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Native Indian Lore
Blackie, Needs More Coffee

My shuffling about the warm kitchen was always a signal to those who were waiting, a meal was forthcoming, and I remembered my mother creating those good memories, too, so long ago. The snow and cold outside the walls of our cozy little home gives me fuzzy feelings of gratitude for the warmth. The most severe of this winter storm went around us and no power outages happened like in other parts of the state.

Mother is resting on the French Day Bed in the double wide rooms of kitchen and a room created, so she can be close, in view of her caretakers. She was intently watching a cooking show. All her life cooking was a great talent with her. I wondered about her thoughts as I glanced at the fancy attire of the girl on the television screen. Mother was always a modest lady, who didn't agree with too much skin being exposed. As if to answer my thoughts she said,

“I wonder why those producers can’t dress their hostess properly. I’m afraid she’s going to get a grease burn on that bare skin.”

So begins the day. At 94, Mother’s sense of humor was alive and well with more than one person noticing. Here are two or three of her comments.

Fry bread, frozen can be taken out of the freezer, popped in the microwave and served hot, so it can be sopped up with soup and this is always nice on a wintry day. My husband pulled a few pieces out and had them in the microwave, getting ready for the soup he saw on the stove. While we were finding our places at the table he brought the bread, steaming hot, to the table.

“Humm, I didn’t know my son-in-law could make such nice fry bread!” We all started our meal with a chuckle. Ponca women don’t speak to their sons in laws, but she managed to find a way to joke with him. He simply grinned and looked away. It was a good thing, beings that he had only lost his own mother. A clever way of “breaking the rules” to acknowledge his helpful action. Maybe just once.

She kept us with smiles as she remembers her Uncle Henry, who was blind. “Uncle Henry,” she recounted, “always liked to eat outside on the porch where he would set his plate and coffee cup beside him.” I could visualize the porch because we had lived in the same house. I could see the rough boards of its floor, the height allowing a person to sit on its edge and swing their legs. The wood round pillars must have been well nailed in place because everyone swung from them. The children in play or the elderly to use them as a help to come up the steps.

“Bring me some more coffee, Sister. Blackie, (their little dog), needs some more.”

“Oh my! Mother would say. Push him away, you know he is around you! My mother loved to tell the story of long ago times, when she was a child.

“Uncle Henry,” she continued, “could not speak perfect English. Once he was angry because his lease-money was late. He said, ‘I’m so mad at that Miss Hoyer, their agent, I just feel like killing him, when I see him.”

“Oh Brother! First get you language correct. She’s a woman, not him. You should say, “I just feel like killing HER.” Mother tried to correct his English.

“Yes! Yes! That’s right! I feel like killing him!” Uncle Henry could not seem to get the gender correct.

Somehow, Velma, even in her old age, was still caring for her family during a sad time, when we, even though there was no discussion, were sad at the loss of a family member.

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