We met Christine and Dennis when we stayed at Azure Gate, on our first visit to Tucson in years. Even on this short visit, we felt that Azure Gate had a special peaceful, welcoming, almost enchanted feel to it, beyond the physical beauty of the place and its tangible amenities. When we became regular guests, we realized it was Christine and Dennis’s thoughtfulness, imagination, generosity, their loving and harmonious relationship that created the atmosphere that brought guests back year after year. I did not really talk much to Christine during that first stay, but I recall her beautiful smile and warm greeting at breakfast and felt so welcome. As I got to know Christine, I learned how often she had opened her home to family, friends, and others, showing a hospitable heart long before running a B&B. Christine’s imagination and creativity were evident in the wonderful discoveries to be made in the courtyards and desert paths of Azure gates - small, artistic arrangements of colorful pottery, figurines, etc. On an evening stroll, they felt like fairy gifts. Once Christine and I began talking, we rarely stopped. We were close in age, and we were ”Army brats”. We remembered our fathers being sent off to Korea during the war, the pain of their absence, and Christine had grasped the idea of death and that her father might not return. We had lived in Germany in the early 1950s, only about 40 miles apart, and (as a photo here revealed), in identical apartment buildings. We shared the belief that living in other countries, seeing different cultures, and experiencing the diversity of military families had given us broader perspectives and a sense that differences were enriching. We even shared the common experience of returning from distant assignments and reconnecting with our extended families at family lake cottages in the Midwest. In our conversations, Christine’s love of family was so clear. She spoke of Dennis with the deep love, appreciation, and admiration, usually heard from those who have just discovered love. She would talk about each of her children, in their individuality, with pride and love, and of the joy of time spent with her grandchildren. In the past year, she spoke with such excitement and anticipation for a new grandson. What a blessing that she was able to see and hold Bennett! Christine’s spirit was in harmony with the universe and the natural world. She retained a child’s capacity for wonder at seeing a beautiful rock on a trail, (tucking favorites in her pocket), a coyote in the distance, or Azure Gate’s resident bobcat. Christine trusted the universe to send signals of the path ahead. So, when she fell in love with Tucson on a chance visit, she returned home, sure that Tucson was the right spot for the B&B she and Dennis had been contemplating. Christine trusted her intuition and was brave enough to act upon it, something she did to the end. I will always miss Christine, but I am deeply grateful to have known her. She left an indelible mark on my life.
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