Foot stoolHer name was Gizella, and I loved her fiercely. As a child I would help Grandma ease her tight black, “Grandma” shoes off and massage her little bunion-burning toes. I can still hear her lyrical voice in that thick, Hungarian accent, “Oh, tank you, child. Your hands are so strong, so gut.” And then she would stretch her small feet, wrapped so snugly in thick, beige stockings, onto the beautifully embroidered footstool and sigh deeply. How many moments in time had I spent sitting next to that beautiful lady listening to her stories about Budapest and how her white-cloud of hair had once been a deep, Irish setter red and how she loved the soldier she was never allowed to marry and so many words of laughter and sorrow as she retold her long journey so elegantly. I would slide my finger along her ski-jump nose and when I reached the tip she would make a barking sound that would delight me every time. It was our ritual. Years later, that little footstool she had so carefully crafted, flower-by-flower became part of my life and that of my childrens’; soon becoming a clawing favorite of my cats and too many of my own nomadic moves, until I gathered its worn remains and put it away in storage.

Today, it has found renewed life at Joshua Tree Oasis—the most splendid vacation retreat in the world. It is as if Gizella has found the peace and beauty she was seeking all her life. Every time I see that little footstool in this transporting desert escape, tucked in the corner in the master suite, I can’t help smiling and think of how happy Grandma would be to share this.

I still remember her words to me before she passed. “Darlink, I vill alveys be vatching over you.” I loved teasing her, so I said, “But, Grandma, even in the bedroom?” “Ah, yes,” she twinkled back. “Especially there! I vill be listening to all the `ooohs and aahhhhs.’”

And so I think of all the lovers of all ages who have shared this magical vacation home in the desert—finding renewed passion for each other. Shouting and laughing and loving together against a backdrop of resplendence—nature at its most enchanting. Windows facing a vista not unlike a moonscape, dotted with nature’s most exquisite wildlife. This is the majesty of Joshua Tree Oasis. And lovers have traveled the world over to love again—or maybe even for the very first time in this heavenly haven; their “oooohs” and “aaaaahhhhhs” in synch with the desert symphony ever-changing with the seasons. I don’t know who’s enjoying it all more—the lovers, or Gizella’s little footstool “vatching it all.” And smiling.

Cara Wilson-Granat