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Some Kids I Have Known
Agnes Pappan


As a strain of music takes us away so, too, does the  memory of  Aunt Agnes. The strength of her Native American blood gave her a tall straight stature and posture.  There was a quiet magnetism about the young woman and this gave her dignity. The smallest parts of life she met with determined, quick  decision making action. What could have been dull living she made interesting with her ability to make stories from every day events. All  young people were equal in the attention she gave them. She bonded completely with her own children. She knew each and every one of their strengths and weaknesses  by heart.

Who could keep from laughing out loud as she told the story about their pet crow who stole the last tire patch her husband was about to use. The man was preparing the car to take the family on a necessary trip to the grocery store in the little town some fourteen miles away. Through her words one could see in the mind's eye the crow sitting at the gable of the house with a tire patch in its beak. The little family all stood in exasperated frustration waiting to see what the crow planned to do with the tiny patch. A moment before what had been a small, unimportant object became the focus of attention.

"Now how could that crow have known this was the most necessary thing in our life at the time?" Aunt Agnes laughed as she told the story.

As the years progressed she was always beside our family by some happen-stance or was it? She was busy with her own family but she was there close by for us,  too. The strong Native teachings  were something not discussed but simply lived out. No one told the children about ancient ways of the clans. Different relationships made cousins your sisters or brothers. On the other hand, Uncle's and Aunt's   too, had children and then they were also one's  Uncle and Aunt,  forever,  as long as time could speak and eternally. Like a chain  unbroken this was the personality within Agnes, one of the last full Poncas.

If there had been such a thing as a Native American Southern Belle,  it would have been this gentle lady. Agnes loved being a woman. She reminded the observer,  in one way or another,  of her femininity. Usually,  it was  through her love of jewelry. .She didn't wear heavy clumsy pieces.  Her jewelry was delicate: small  shining bead work earrings hanging  long against her stately neck. She was. a beautiful model for the jewelry.  This must have been why  she easily developed her work into a craft and small business. She simply carried the bead works  with her in a small handkerchief tucked into her purse. The creations were so small they took up no unduly large amount of space. As she would visited, she constantly worked the long thin needle through the tiny, glistening, sharp edged,  beads. As time went by and Agnes grew older, she kept to her work in spite of failing eyesight.

As for me,  I  lived through all the tumultuous storms of trying to cope with a disabled child's world. We lived  in cities and went  to the best doctors, who we hoped would have solutions for our daughter's cerebral palsy.  At a distance from our roots so much of the basic realities of life were eroded away.  Only later did my husband and I  throw away what became the  obviously unsuccessful  promises of health and healing . to return to family and the small town of Ponca City, Oklahoma. In doing so, we came to a more realistic and practical  way of living.

Like an old beautiful melody Agnes was with us again.  She came  to our house and sat for hours with our girl who was  in the wheelchair. They visited with each other and their speech was soft and low. No one knew what they discussed. However,  theirs was a world lovely to see. This now elderly, delicate  woman was still beautiful with the richness of her coloring and the strength of her ways.  She seemed to enjoy being with the young girl in a wheel chair while she herself was absorbed with her fragile work. Occasionally, one or the other of them would laugh softly, as they discussed something of interest. I  remembered my own childhood and the pleasant conversations we all had shared with this woman.

Aunt Agnes. left them as quietly as she had always come. .My daughter didn't ask I,  did not have the heart to tell her about Aunt Agnes's death immediately. I  knew, somehow, I would have to find a way. The opportunity came  in an unexpected event.

We were waiting at the Indian cemetery for family to arrive to discuss the upkeep of the graves. . .My daughter looked out the car window with interest. I noticed but didn't question. The disabled girl was  forced from her condition to be able to observe with a completeness lost to most people. Aware of her ability  I did not interrupt or break her concentration.

Only when they were home  did the girl mention what she had seen at the cemetery.

"Mother, I saw Aunt Agnes today," she smiled.

The comment raised the subject  and I knew the issue had to be met. O spoke gently to my daughter.  "No, Sweetheart. You did not see her."

"I did, Mother, I did." The girl was definite in her answer.

"I'm sorry I haven't told you. It was hard for me, because I didn't want you to grieve. Aunt Agnes is no longer living. She has been gone for some time."

My daughter ignored my words. . "I saw her at the cemetery today. I know Aunt Agnes, and I saw her."

There was no more discussion. There was nothing more to be said. Was Aunt Agnes's gentle spirit still there to take care of one more duty, or was it just some mischievious spirit hoping to cause sorrow for the girl? If it was,  its appearance backfired. Instead there was the strength of her Native ways coming one more time to tend to the girl. For me, at that time,  there. no answer as to why my daughter had, indeed, seen Aunt Agnes one more time. She had, after all, not been willingly and deliberately abandoned by Aunt Agnes. Otherwise, how could she know this?


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