“Wow! Look Grams! The water
is up to the bottom of the bridge.”
One of the grandchildren was interested in the
rushing, moving water beneath us.
“I know it. Reminds me of the year your Aunt
was born. Grampa was trying to work in the hay fields and it did rain
every day, I believe. The old ranch house was almost as cold as winter
time those days. Sometimes I had to find a warm comforter to keep warm.”
In the back of my mind I’m reflecting on the
mystery of the ways of the rain band who were Mother’s people. Every
battle to make her comfortable these days was like a small skirmish
leading up to what we knew was the decisive engagement involving life we
soon would all have to rally ‘round.
The elements almost felt like they were in
league with our heaviness of heart as we answered Mother’s same questions
over and over while her memory is now slipping so slowly away from her. On
one visit to the hospital with her pneumonia the staff was bewildered as
she returned to her original language and spoke Ponca to them. A Native
American boy told her in Ponca, “Be patient Gramma, those little helpers
will be with you soon.” We wondered if he meant the nurses or something
else but, at any rate,
Gramma seemed soothed with his words.
We, taxi-her, back and forth, between children
to satisfy her wish to remain the eternal nomad she has always been. The
grandchild and great-grandchildren stand at a distance to observe with
questioning looks. Those who are the most intelligent are obviously
disturbed and have to be worked through their depression.
“Just watch, son! Watch and learn because one
day this is how you will have to take care of me!” This lightens the
heaviness of the situation for them and they are okay with it.
My own lack of being able to speak Ponca is
only a bit of an issue.
“Shay Ah’ Mah! Monska Ah Dee” Dee.” Mother
don’t need any money, Mother.” I respond.
“No! No! You give your brother some gas
money.” I had to smile, I knew he didn’t need it, but I reached in my
pocket and handed him a 20.
“I don’t need that.” He looked at me in a
questioning way which told me he didn't understand Ponca either.
“Hush and take it,” I whispered. “Give it back
later if you must.”
lesson is here, someplace. I just don’t know what it is. I think it has
to-do with respecting my brother, but I’m not sure.
“I need to get out of the rain. I’ll see you
She waves her delicate hand just as I have seen so many of her people do.
It’s a flipping, halting motion from the wrist without moving their
fingers and for only two or three times. Even these small ways speak of
reserved, quiet ways. I saw her wipe the rain drops off her hand almost
lovingly as she pulled it inside the car.