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Paddle Your Own Canoe
Chapter 11

“You poor thing.”  It was her friends way of extending sympathy toward her because she was “baby sitting” with her grandchildren.

“Don't feel sorry for me!”  Dee was quick to express herself.  “I'm doing exactly what I want to do.”

After Glenda left her grandson was wrapping himself around her as he sometimes did when it was later in the afternoon and he was tired from the days activities.  “Gramma why did Glenda call you a poor thing.”

“Oh, don't pay any attention.  Doesn't mean anything.”

This innocent question gave Dee a moment to reflect as she was holding her grandson. He was getting to be a big boy and she sang to him as she had sung to her own boy, his father.

“Puff the magic dragon, lives by the sea, in a land called Ah Dah Lee.  A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys.”

The song always touched her heart as she remembered  her five, no six, brothers and one brother cousin.   It always seemed to her they were just little boys for such a short time and all at once they had to grow up to all the hateful and, of course,  pleasurable things as to and  of being a man.

“Yeah, but why did she?  Are you poor?”

“Randy, language isn't that simple.  Poor can mean a lot of different things.  Poor  work, poor timing, poor tasting food, dirt  poor, and poor but proud are just a few expressions.”

“But, why did she call you, poor thing.”  Randy was persistent.

It was their way, their culture, whatever one wanted to call it, to go ahead and explain to children, even though they might only get part of the understanding of something told to them.

“Long ago.”  Dee was making a story out of the explanation. “Long ago, there was what they called Indians.  That is what Gramma's mother is called.”

“I know!  Gramma V. is Indian. Everybody knows that.”

Dee had to smile.  “Oh yes!”  She was thinking to herself.

“Well, years ago, those people lived differently than we do, in a way, but in another way just like we do.  The man hunted and fished and fought the enemies.  The woman stayed around the camp, worked hard to make clothes, grow and store food, tan animal hides and so many things you will probably not even hear about.”

“Since Mama and Daddy had to work so hard, someone had to help with the children. The children had to grow up fast in order to be strong. The Grandmother's and Grandfather's were strong. They were healthy people. With this strength they were able to help care for the children.  But, it wasn't just because they needed to do so, it was more than that. It was kind of like a rule. You know a rule?”

“Uh huh! That is like when we aren't supposed to call names.”

Dee had to smile again to herself and was glad the boy was remembering the incident and talk they had about that.

“Yes, Randy.  Like that. So you see, even though Grampa isn't Indian, he is respectful to me.  He doesn't complain about kids being around. Instead, he helps me with you children.  You know that don't you?”

“I love Grampa.”  Randy was listening and being thoughtful.

“I do too.”   Dee told her Grandson. “I've loved him for almost fifty years now.  What do you think about that?”

“Is that more than a hundred?”  Randy in his own  way made her aware he was so very much a child yet.

“Let's just say it is quite a long time.”

Randy was quiet. Whether he was thinking or was just too tired to visit she didn't know.  They were sitting so they could see down the drive. Dee knew the children seemed to have a built in sense as to their mother's arrival and liked to watch for her.  As her car came up the drive Randy was all at once very alert and ready to get to his feet. His Grampa had been holding his sister, Ada.

“Ada!  Ada!  Hurry!  Let's get our stuff.  Mama's here!”

As the children's mother came into the house she was hugging and loving on the children but Dee could see her daughter-in-law was very tired and that touched her heart too.  The only joy Dee had at the moment was knowing they had provided one small relief for the woman in that she knew her children were secure with their love while she struggled to get through life the best way she knew how and that was by helping their son arrive at his goals.  It was as one country song proclaimed, “The secret to a successful rancher  is a wife who works in town!”

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