My grandmother, Nola and my Uncle Frank
Today’s Beloved Dead is the grandmother I never got to meet. She died after getting the Spanish Flu after her youngest son was born. I wish I could have met her and if she had lived my father would have been a much different person. After she died, my grandfather left to build the Panama Canal and the kids were raised by my great-grandmother who was totally unfit to raise them in my opinion. She beat the shit out of my dad and when he broke his wrist driving a pony cart he didn’t have permission to drive, she refused to let his other grandfather set it and it gave him a good deal of pain the rest of his life.
The other reason I would want her around would have been to talk to her, to find out about her father. Family stories say her father was a Native American, He had to have been adopted and when I’ve done research he appears in the first census as Tomas and then as an adult, Thomas. The story about him was that he would not talk about himself or where he had come from just that he was some sort of Native American. Dad thought he was half Native American and Thomas’ father allegedly had 10 children and it wouldn’t have been that hard to sneak one in with that many children. And the records at one point list him as being born “around 1858” but no exact date. At that point on history, Native Americans in Illinois and Kentucky were treated very badly and I suspect he was passing when he got into Iowa Medical School and became a doctor. His mother was said to be the first white girl born in the county.
Anyway, my dad had a profile like an Indian head nickel, beak and all but he had no idea what tribe his grandfather would have belonged to and I know that drove him a little nuts because he knew the genealogy of the Robbs back before immigration in 1723.
When I went to camp the first time, the camp was a Church camp that was named Indian Village and they did teach a lot of Native customs such as bead work and bead weaving. I loved learning that. I can still do it. Every afternoon we had story telling that first year with a gentleman that said he was a Kiowa chief and he used to show us the bulletholes in his leg from where he had been shot early in his life, before he learned the white father’s religion. It was the only year he was there. He was weathered and the best description I can apply to him from my childhood memories was he was he felt like earth.
This is also the week I heard the tree talk to me and this week went a long way to setting me on a pagan path. So much for Church camp. https://elfkat.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/the-tree-and-the-girl-2/
One afternoon, I was sitting listening to him and he stopped his story and looked at me. He just stared and then he asked me what tribe I belonged to, I have no idea why he would ask a strawberry blonde, whiter than milk kid that question but he did. He told me he knew I was of his people and nodded to me and that was that. It was never mentioned again. All my friends wanted to know why he had done that because he hadn’t talked individually to anyone else and as far as I know he never did that week because it got around that he had talked to me.
I was 9 and dad had just been telling us what he knew about his grandfather so I said I didn’t know. I was nine and I remember going home at the end of the week and telling dad and dad just told me again, he didn’t know.
I’ve always been very careful not to take anything from Native cultures because I wasn’t raised in the context of those cultures. My spirituality is mainly Celtic and Norse based because of my mom being half and half and the rest of dad’s heritage is Scottish but sometimes I long to know more of that part of my DNA but it isn’t mine to know in this life.