“They took me to a mental
health clinic in Oklahoma City, “ Mariah was a women full of aplomb,
today the phrase would be, “cool.” She turned her head and gazed out the
window beside our booth and seemed as unconcerned as if she was
discussing what to serve for lunch.
“Are you sick?” She
didn’t seem sick to me, maybe a bit too calm, but I wasn’t even sure of
that. Mariah classically never was a person to loose her cool, as the
expression goes. Often, when others were not coping she would make some
off hand remark to bring a person to common sense thinking, which is a
very Native American trait Bertha must have taught her sometimes during
Mariah’s first fourteen years with her mother. I had not even been
shocked to see her battling the men who were abducting her. She seemed
to be doing the right thing, to my way of thinking.
“What did they do to
you?” I was curious.
“Oh nothing. I just slept
most of the time. I needed the rest.” Moriah took a sip of her coffee.
She reminded me of my Native American grandmother who had the same kind
of reaction to life. If was as if they were unconcerned and removed from
whatever trial was thrown upon them. She now was closely watching the
goings on around her in the little café. Whatever she had suffered was
just so much more of an inconsequential, unimportant event in her life.
The present was more to her interest. It was a lesson for me though, and
this was Moriah’s way of teaching me.
“They wouldn’t let me
have a razor to shave my legs. That was barbaric. What lady wants to go
around with hairy legs?” Ura May was making fun of the therapy she had.
She knew it and I did, too.
“Why not a razor?” I was
curious about something like this.
“Afraid someone might
kill themselves, with it,” I suppose. Moriah was still as removed from
the event as if she was discussing a day at church or some other
“Good Grief!” This last
statement caught my attention.
“Why did they send you
home?” I now had Moriah’s full attention and surely was enjoying the
“Who knows.” Moriah
shrugged. “I suppose it is a diagnosis, I’m not crazy.”
“Well, I could have told
“Might have been because
I decked one of the aids who kept following me continually, even to the
bathroom.” Moriah turned her head toward me, looked directly at me and
raised her eyebrows. “Could have been Dad didn’t want to spend another*
2000.00 for treatment.” This too was a casual observance of what we both
knew was the most likely reason, and we both laughed.
That was more probable
than anything else to me, but on the other hand, I was very shocked
Moriah would have lost her composure to violence. If anything was crazy
and out of the norm this would have been it. However, the people in the
clinic didn’t see it that way, supposedly, and must have seen the act,
as something sane. Too bad they couldn’t have witnessed the way Moriah
fought, when she was forced into a car and taken to their clinic.
I was little more than a
child but a deep impression had been made upon me. At the time my mind
was not able to grasp the full implications, but I began to listen more
closely to my Native American grandmother as she skillfully painted word
pictures of her own joy in going to the boarding school, Chilocco Indian
*This was in the year
1950. Today that treatment would be more akin to 6000.00 in a private
institution, or maybe even more.