“Mariah is reserved isn’t
she?” Observed one person who lived in this little town with no
entertainment, except for the misfortunes of others.
I nodded, “yes.” Little did they know how reserved, aloof and dignified
this woman could be. Actually, I felt she was going to some lengths to
“She’s driving me crazy,”
another woman, a room mate, with whom she was sharing an apartment,
“How’s that?” I was
“Come over this afternoon
and you will see,” she invited me.
I walked down the long
driveway to the little apartment at the back of a larger home. “Mariah
must be out of her mind,” I thought. “Why would she live here with us,
the peons, when she has a lovely place in the Osage?”
The woman who had invited
me had a very small table in the tiny room that was the kitchen.
Everything was pin neat, including this table. There was a meal waiting,
but I could hardly bring myself to sit before the spread because the
space was so small. I felt a bit as if I was taking food from someone
who needed it more than I.
“Sit down. Please,” my
hostess pulled out a chair.
“Where is Mariah?” I was
curious about how she could be here, but not seen in these small rooms.
“She won’t be coming to the table, let’s go ahead.”
“I had heard the same song coming from the bedroom. It was a popular
tune, something about, ‘I need your love to keep away the cold.”
“Same song?” I smiled.
“Yes, over and over and over. You will see.” A touch of a frown on her
forehead told me she wasn’t pleased with Mariah’s behavior.
The monotony of that same song, played again and again, was worrisome to
me, and I determined my Uncle Dean must know about this.
That evening when I had time to visit with Mariah after attending church
I point blank asked her why she did not fight for her girls.
“You saw how much money I had left over from my royalty check. I might
have been able to feed them, but how could I buy gasoline, propane for
heat, and whatever medical might come up. Paying for glasses, dentists,
or accidents, how could I pay for that. I can’t work. I have very little
skills, some typing but little else. The girls are so small, who would
raise them if I could work? In fact, for that matter waitress wages
would hardly pay for a round trip drive from Pawhuska sixty miles away.
“The attorney offered to
go through a messy divorce, but then you know what would have happened.”
Mariah was a thinker and was displaying the traits of all her family’s
genes. Those were the days in circa 1956, when there was no such thing
as no-fault divorce. Someone had to be at blame.
“I haven’t the slightest idea about what would happen.” I was totally
“All those records go on
file, forever. If some of my grandchildren should want to pick them up,
there all that would be, all the back and forth mud slinging. I’m not
going to let it happen.”
“The laws of the church?
If you remarry without charging some valid reason, you will be
disfellowshiped?” I did know that much.
“I’ll just have to deal
with that, when it happens.” Mariah had made up her mind.
Vee was so upset over
Mariah having lost her girls she took it up on herself to make an
appointment to speak with her niece’s lawyer.
“Mariah could have had
her children. She has done no wrong as a mother. She simply did not want
to go to court to fight for them.” The man was the best the town had to
offer at the time and had values of his own to equal his acumen, so it
was, Vee accepted the inevitable.
My heart was young and
unaware of such worldliness but something about this woman’s strength
and courage struck me deeply. How noble and kind for her to be thinking
so far ahead to protect grandchildren she would never know.
“Their father will raise
them as I would have. Taking them to California will, in the long run,
be for the best. It is what the elders of my tribe have advised. So many
of them have done the same, by taking loved ones far away from unsavory
things that could touch them here.” Mariah closed the subject and never
talked about her children’s lives again. There were no more pictures,
stories telling of their small accomplishments, or, for that matter,
greater things they achieved. We never saw them again. Once, I did see
the middle girl on telivision. while she walked down the runway as Miss
California, and to me it seemed she had a winsome, far away, look in her
eye while she floated along in her long dress. She gazed out across the
crowd as if she was searching for someone or something.
Mariah, soon after the
repetitive song playing, left Ponca City and moved to Bartlesville where
Weldon was living in a hotel. He was working as a truck driver. She
remarried soon after that and, indeed, was disfellowshiped from her
“Everyone to their own
opinion, the old man said as he kissed a cow,” was her only comment.
If a person had the time
many horror stories could be told by the Osage people and indeed, much
more shocking than this. I’ve heard a few I don’t want to remember much
less write of them.
If Mariah wanted her
girls to know love for themselves and not for their money it has to be
noted the miles between Oklahoma and California certainly achieved this.
Today as the Native
population comes into the wealth of their casinos the problem will exist
again. However, the Osage tribe has worked through this eventuality.
Their casino money goes toward education, health, housing and other
programs, not to the individual. Some other tribes have the same
practice, which is good and bad. Leaving a person deprived of their
inheritance so the tribe determines what they think is best can be a
great handicap with today’s high cost of living. The bills must still be
paid, other than education, medical and housing.