Native American Mother and Child
Bangles and Colorful Cloth for Ma…
“Dedicated to my Great-Grandmother ”
When I was born, you were young ninety-years old, your hair pulled tight at the nap of your neck, still black and bold. At night, you let it down to braid before you went to bed, it fell to the floor; at first I would watch in silence from the crack in the door. The night you caught me I was six, you called me into the room smiling…asking that I bring you a single broomstick. I quickly plucked it from mother’s only broom, and rushed back into the dimly lit room. You showed me how to break it into small pieces; when I looked bewildered your smile accented all of your dark wrinkles and creases.
It was then that my eyes opened wide as you put the stick right through the lob of your ears, its magic I thought; but this is my great-grandmother I have nothing to fear. As a child, I did not realize that there was a hole, because when I would touch the bangles on her ear, she would quickly scold. Just like the time when I tried to sneak a peek at her button up shoes by raising the hem of her long dress, she did not have on shoes, there were moccasins on those tiny feet…who would have guessed. Yes, I was only a child without a care, and I spent many hours sitting at the foot of her old rocking chair.
I never tire of the stories she would tell, sometimes we cried together and now I can say it…as a child she lived in a white man’s world, she called it “hell”. Her parents had walked on the “Trail of Tears”, proud and strong, with every step wondering where they had gone wrong. She help raise me and she taught me the way, and as her mind begin to wander in those later years, I was sad when she would tell her stories she only remembered the bad. This grand old woman dressed in bangles and cloths of many colors, with that big ball of hair and the nap of her neck was a great-grandmother like no other.
She died only days before her birthday, she would have been one-hundred and five, my father said, Ma would have scolded you while saying, and don’t you ever cry. I was fifteen-year old and the world was bright and colorful with the artwork of fall, a befitting day to bury this beautiful and proud Chickasaw.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Ma, my great-great-grandmother and Aunt Francis help raise me; it was during a more simplistic time. My memories of them are treasures. Drawing by Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree
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