Contributed by guest blogger, Judy McMillie
Most of us have a favorite restaurant or two. We aren’t exclusive with it, but we frequent it often, once a week maybe. My husband and I love Avila’s Mexican Food. It’s a very special place for us, and we have a particular booth we like to sit in. We chat up all the waiters, waitresses, bus-boys and –girls, and we tip generously. It’s what we like to do.
Recently, when we went to Avila’s for some enchiladas on a cold and windy evening, the service was slower than usual due to a big party in the back party room and a large take-out order to fill. But we didn’t mind too much – Avila’s is a pleasant place to be.
My husband Buck whose career was in law enforcement -- he retired from the federal prison system -- was transferred to La Tuna Federal Correctional Institution near El Paso in December 1969. He, his wife, and two young children drove to El Paso from their previous assignment in West Virginia, and Avila’s was the first restaurant they ate in after arriving in this decidedly Mexican-food city. The love affair began all those years ago, and a few of the employees still working at Avila’s today were working at the restaurant way back then. Luis and Chiquita are two of them. There’s a special bond between them and us, although I came on the scene many years later.
The other evening when we went to Avila’s, we were just sitting, waiting for our food, when Buck spotted something shiny on the floor under the adjacent table. He thought about leaving it alone, but he was curious and we were just biding our time, so he went to the table and retrieved the item. It was a big beautiful gold and diamond man’s ring, a really lovely piece of jewelry. At that very moment, our waiter friend Luis passed by and asked what it was that caught Buck’s attention. Buck showed him, and he became visibly breathless and weak. It was Luis’ ring, and he had been searching for it for a long time. He had been to his car and his locker, he had searched the counters in the kitchen, the area of the restaurant where employees take their breaks, the dining rooms and everywhere he could think to search. He was extremely relieved to find the ring, and then he told us the story behind the ring.
Luis calls it his “anniversary” ring. He and his wife bought it when they married, and every year, on their anniversary, he would add a diamond. Luis and his wife divorced after 22 years, but it still was an outward and visible sign of their life together, the family they created, and he treasured that ring like no other. I can only imagine how upset he was when the ring went missing. And I was a witness to the relief that inundated him when the ring was found.
I am a firm believer that God places us where He wants us, and this incident seems to prove my point. Buck and I could have gone anywhere we felt like going that evening, but we went to Avila’s at that time, probably at the very minute Luis was petitioning God to help him through this stressful time. Life can be so sweet at times, and you know I’m a big fan of happy endings!
Luis ended up buying our meal that evening, although we protested as much as we could. He was very grateful to have such good friends, and so were we.
Luis certainly shouted his joy and gratitude to God and His world that evening!
Judy McMillie is a retired newspaper librarian, current newspaper columnist, self-avowed memoirist, great-grandmother, native Nebraskan, and Annette's "Aunt Judy" currently living in El Paso, Texas.
If you ever find yourself in El Paso, go eat at Avila's!
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