Yesterday Mother was
ninety-one. She made the statement, “I was born over behind Aunt Creth's
house in the timber edging their farm land. They had a teepee up there and
that was where Mother was staying. She wanted to be near Gramma DeLodge who
was a midwife for the tribe. I was born around three o'clock in the
“Not too many people were
born in a tee-pee,” I was thinking.
Mother reminisced about the
changes in the Ponca tribe. “In my youth the leaders were the elder men of
the clans. That was then and now is now. Today the tribe is more like a
business than a tribe. There is the bingo hall, the health clinic, and the
housing. I know other tribes have more industry but for now, these are the
sum total of our “businesses as far as I know. Of course, the funding for
education, personal emergencies and so on is part of it too.”
Some of the things my Mother
enjoys are socializing, sewing, expensive cologne, nice clothes, her own car
which is now a Buick. She enjoys her children and grandchildren. Velma
had a job until she was way over eighty and says now, “I want to get to
feeling better so I can go back to work.”
Social activities” These were
the meat in my mother's sandwich. There was never a time when she wasn't
planning some event. Some events I remember from childhood. 1. Dances for
way out places in gymnasiums where whole families brought their food and
bedding for the children to sleep under the benches against the wall while
the parents danced 2. Private parties at the ranch home 3. Indian hand
games. 4. All the pow-wow entertainment regarding cooking for visitors on
the campground. 5. In fact anytime there was a need to provide all the
arrangements around meetings and group association she easily organized
Sewing: I personally believe
my mother's sewing of the garments for regalia of the many stunning
creations helped keep traditions alive. The blending of colors in intricate
ribbon work designs she sewed for maidens as well as matrons caused the
women to look their best. This while in contest when enjoying an evening
or afternoon of dancing. She sewed men's regalia as well. The beautifully
styled men's shirts, leggins, or neck scarves were equally as attractive as
the women's dress.
Cars: All the years Velma
worked she was always sure to keep a nice looking car. When she was around
sixty her dark wine colored Mustang was a thing of beauty. Once they owned a
flashy Buick my father enjoyed so much. One year I went with her while she
drove a brand new bright red sports car while her's was in the garage for
repairs. This was the year we visited all the graves of her family. It took
all day. There we were in our blinding red car while she took time to put a
flower and weep a few tears over each grave.
There were years when she was
struggling to see her children through different crisis situations but
somehow she always managed to keep a bottle of expensive classy perfume.
Mother was never a clothes
horse but she always managed to have a few very nice new dresses of a
quality cut. When I was younger I easily wore them as they were passed down.
My friends all thought it was my good taste and choice.
When Dad passed away in 1986
I can't remember exactly the number of great-grandchildren but it seems
there were twenty-two grandchildren. There are many more by now. She was
always sensitive to each one's needs. Even Dad's grandchildren from his
first wife came to her when they needed help. She was willing and able to
be there for them. Never did she fail them.
When I was in high school
Mother worked double shifts back to back, sixteen hours a day, cooking in a
restaurant. She went to school at Oklahoma University and then went to work
for Oklahoma for Indian's Opportunity where she worked as a social worker.
The work she did for them was of a broad spectrum. Just a couple years ago
she was recognized at a meeting attended by national leaders.
Her love and steady pushing
of her family has been an experience for each one of us. I'm sure all would
have different memories to add.