Aurora Martin, who just moved away from San Antonio, Texas, for the first time in her life, was made to feel welcome in Maricopa, thanks to Maricopa Rocks. Photo by Merry Grace

A local woman sought the community’s help with welcoming her newly relocated mother, and the heartfelt response was overwhelming.

When Maricopa resident Merry Grace asked the local movement known as Maricopa Rocks to help welcome her mother to her new home in the city, she wasn’t expecting much. She was happily mistaken.

Submitted photo

“I thought maybe if I ask, maybe two or three people will paint Texas-themed rocks and they set them outside so when she comes outside she’ll see it,” Grace said. “I was overwhelmed. I ended up with 21 rocks.”

Grace’s mother, 84-year-old Aurora Martin, moved to Maricopa from San Antonio with her husband two months ago after she was diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Grace said. The move, she said, has taken an emotional toll on her mother.

“I saw that she was getting homesick,” Grace said. “She was born and raised in San Antonio. It’s the only home she’s ever known.”

Seeing this, the loving daughter sprang into action, reaching out to the group Maricopa Rocks, which recently started an art/social media movement, painting rocks and planting them around the city.

“I wanted to cheer her up, being away from her lifelong friends,” Grace said. “[But] I had no idea they would respond the way they did.”

The day before her 84th birthday, the group planted the 21 painted rocks in Grace’s yard.

Submitted photo

When she saw the first rock, Grace said, “she immediately asked, ‘What is this?’”

It was painted with the Texas flag.

She sat down, Grace said, and then the family “brought [the rocks] to her one-by-one, and one-by-one she was getting more and more emotional.”

One rock especially got to her, Grace said. It had the picture of Texas with a small heart painted within the borders, and written next to the image of the Lone-Star state were the words, “Texas, where my story begins.”

“As soon as I read that to her she just bawled,” Grace said. “It wasn’t a sad cry, though. It was kind of a relief cry.”

Another rock said, “Welcome to AZ,” and still others were adorned with Texas flags and sayings like the “Yellow Rose of Texas.”

They have plans of possibly building a small flower garden in their backyard and using the rocks for decoration. For now, she keeps several of them in her room.

Martin is still relatively cognizant of the world around her, however dementia is a degenerative disease with irreversible symptoms which can prove to be severely debilitating.

So, when the time comes, Grace said alluding to her mother’s eventual passing, “the boys [Martin’s grandsons] will take Abuela’s [Martin’s] rocks and create their own gardens.”

For now, there are more good moments than bad, Grace said. With this gesture, perhaps her mother can maintain just that much more of her past, and realize that though she may have started her story in Texas, home is where you make it.