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Donna Flood
Happy Hunting Moccasins

Old Gramma Little Walker spoke little English. The charm of the old ones allowed them to communicate without it. Their ways were special and pleasant. Their soft voices and aware expressions brought them to an understanding with anyone they happened to chose to share their time and experience. As she walked into the hospital room of the Gabriel, a young woman, she did so as quietly as a child enters the presence of a grown up.

"Hello Gramma!" The young woman spoke to her. She spoke with the knowledge the very elderly woman would probably not answer her with words. Sure enough the frail little woman simply lifted her arm and hand onto the girls bed and patted the place beside her leg. The younger one went ahead speaking to her in the English language, not knowing what tribe she was since the Indian hospital where they both were served a number of different people.

The little woman reached down to the chair where the girl's moccasins were setting. As she picked one up there was a satisfied pleasure in her expressions. She turned them this way and that to examine the workmanship, the beadwork, and their soft texture. Certainly, she had made it plain she liked the shoes. As was their way, she turned her head and didn't look directly at the girl, but to some far off distant place.

Gabriel wondered what vision she was seeing. Where were her thoughts turned? Was she looking to seeing her future in another far off land?

As if to answer her the little delicate person turned her attention to the girl. She rubbed her hand over the moccasins with one more lingering touch, smiled directly to the girl and set them back in place.

Now, I must tell you, there is a custom among the people of our tribe. If someone likes some possession you own, dearly, lovingly, completely, sincerely likes the object then it is one's obligation to give that object to the person. Whether the custom holds true with the Pawnee tribe of which this woman was associated is not known.

Days progressed and the two women of spring and winter were to share moments together. They were not able to communicate as far as language was concerned but there was something more rare and precious to their relationship. The elderly woman was somehow or another drawn to the young woman and the young woman was as equally satisfied with her companionship.

Soon the time came for Gabriel to leave and as Gramma Little Walker came to her room while she was packing her things, the young woman stopped for a moment. She picked up the expensive moccasins and handed them to her new acquaintance. "Take these Gramma." "I want you to have them." "They were meant for you anyway." "I don't ever wear them."

Gramma smiled such a gentle, sweet, loving, smile as she reached out to accept the moccasins. A little tear trickled down the side and out of her eye.

"No, No, Gramma." "Don't do that." However, Gabriel felt the same way. They were from different tribes and different areas. They probably, would never see each other again.

A few year passed. Gabriel was back in the hospital for a tonsillectomy. The misery of the sore throat made her feel if she could just have some apricot juice she could feel better.

"Do you think there is any possible way I could have some apricot juice?" Gabriel asked one of the nurses. She knew it was an Indian hospital and there probably wasn't a chance of it, but, nevertheless, she asked.

"I doubt it." The nurse was honest. "I will see what I can do."

In a little while a tray was brought to her bed and in the middle was a lonely little glass of apricot juice. The taste was wonderful, Gabriel thought. Just as she was finishing the juice a dark swarthy young man dressed in white hospital garb came into her room.

"Enjoy your juice?" He asked.

"Oh! I really did." "My throat feels so much better." "I really didn't expect to get any, though."

The man smiled and said, "I went to town and bought it myself."

"Oh my!" He had Gabriel's attention. "I didn't mean for you to do that."

"It was my pleasure," He said. "You remember the little Pawnee woman you gave the moccasins." "That was my mother." "We buried her last summer." "She requested she be buried in them, and this we did."

Gabriel had very deep feeling about what he told her but she couldn't voice them. It was her turn to allow a tear to slip from the side of her eye, where upon the young man smiled to her and said,

"Well, you know the Ponca and the Pawnee are old enemies." "We used to steal your horses."

"But this time, you stole my Mom's heart." With that he smiled and waved to her as he left her alone to think about the time she had shared with the quiet, little woman who was his Mother.

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