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Paddle Your Own Canoe
Chapter 27

Many times the dull, rusty, antique tin box belonging to Bellzona had been sifted through. The opening up of the treasure of early day Oklahoma was like holding a giant diamond gem of incredible value. One just could not take their eyes away from each document because of the story it told.

Probably,  summing up Gramma Bell's whole life was the poetry she had clipped from newspapers.  The following was one of them:

Paddle Your Own Canoe

Voyager upon life's sea,
To yourself be true,
And whatever your lot may be,
Paddle your own canoe.
Never, though the winds may rave,
Falter or look back;
But upon the darkest wave
Leave a shining track.
Paddle your own canoe.

Nobly dare the wildest storm,
Stem the hardest gale,
Brave of heart and strong of arm
You will never fail.
When the world is cold and dark,
Keep your aim in view;
And toward the beacon work,
Paddle your own canoe. ...

..Would you crush the giant wrong,
In the world's free fight?
With a spirit brave and strong,
Battle for the right.
And to break the chains that bind
The many to the few
To enfranchise slavish mind,-
Paddle your own canoe.
Nothing great is lightly won,
Nothing won is lost,
Every good deed, nobly done,
Will repay the cost.
Leave to Heaven, in humble trust,
All you will to do:
But if succeed, you must
Paddle your own canoe.

by Sarah Bolton, written in 1851. This poem, set to music, became known throughout the world.

And yet,  there must have been another part to it. There were more words Dee remembered her Gramma Bell singing:

“The daisies growing on the hill are blooming just for you,
If you will only,  Paddle Your Own Canoe.”

Dee could not remember the melody, but the words, the words, they stayed as if they were printed on her heart and mind.

Dee's childhood was of another era. The times were what might be called, “soft involvement,” to coin a phrase.  It was just a way of saying the teaching was there, certainly.  Although it was sixty-six years ago, really, not that much had changed as far as economics was concerned. Her Dad and Mother had to work the cattle, the ranch, and its lands. This left the job of “baby sitting” up to her Grandmother Bellzona. What was different about that? The same was going on with Dee as a Grandmother. The only difference was that Gramma Bell was much more weak.  Her asthma gave a daily battle.

Dee remembered so plainly how her Gramma taught her, whether it was crochet, sewing, or so many other moral lessons. Sometimes, in the memory of her grandmother it was if she could see the woman clearly. Reading her expressions and weighing her instructions as Dee often saw her own grandchildren do at this place in her life. Gramma's way of comforting people was to pull out her always ready violin.  She could play The Eighth of January in such a happy way it seemed as if someone took your arm and jerked you up to dance all at once.

Who could think or care about anything hateful or worrisome while this woman's lively music wrapped itself around the room and its inhabitants like swirling leaves in an autumn wind storm.  The memories made Dee make a note to try to lighten their lives up more with music. Of course, the children always love it.  “Why not?”  She thought. “How costly is that, anyway?”

“In the last days, there will be wars and rumors of war.”  Her mind raked over some of her teachings. 

Was this instead of being a message of gloom, rather a way of saying, “Go on with your life and don't get so bogged down with the enormity of it?  Who knows?  I don't know, and that is for a certainty. Instead, she did understand the old poem of her Grandmother's which  popped up again as it was prone to do, and it seemed to be reaching  out to her from the depth of the past:

With a spirit brave and strong,
Battle for the right.
And to break the chains that bind
The many to the few
To enfranchise slavish mind,-
Paddle your own canoe.
Nothing great is lightly won,
Nothing won is lost.

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