Friday, May 21, 2010


May 20. Michael and Wallis came over to help me put the mirrors on the bureaus. Then Justice and Bruce martin came. I had to hurry out to Annie's and tell stories to 25 students from Penn State. They had arrived under half a moon on a warm mosquito laden night. We began outside on the Redd Shedd patio but the insects drove us indoors. After stories, Annie sang a couple of songs and served a delicious elderberry tea. When I left it was too cool for mosquitoes and the frogs were at full throat.

May 21. Today I found this tribute to my exceptional mother. It was published Nov. 22, 1996 in the Native American Press Ojibwe News (Pub/Ed Bill Lawrence) THANKFULNESS: Cherish the past and relish the present. By Anne M. Dunn.
This will be my first Thanks-giving Day without Mom. She passed over on Nov. 14, 1996, the beginning of all my motherless days. So... I'm still trying to find my place in a world that no longer includes her physical presence.
I'm still cleaning her house... and sometimes I find that when I tough something... it touches me, too. A red bowl, her slippers, a sweater, her hair brush, a bobby pin, her photograph, a ceramic bird. They touch me.
While looking through her papers I found old letters written by her sister, her parents, her sweetheart. Recent letters from grandchildren Annie, Sara and Charles. She'd saved birthday notes and Christmas greetings, too.
Like most people, I know that thanksgiving doesn't happen once a year. It's ongoing. But from my mother I've learned that we don't have to look far for an opportunity to be thankful.
I'm thankful for a worn blue notebook where she recorded, "June 30, 1979. Found wild carrots along road on Wilderness Drive going to camp ground. Also found wild onions growing their in a field and along the road."
I imagine her delight at finding these earth-gifts. I see her small hands digging around a plant. I watch a smile playing across her face as she rubs the soil off on her pants let and carefully puts the root in her jacket pocket.
My niece Terry gave me a picture of Mom picking strawberries this past summer. I'm thankful for the photo and for the joy I see in my mother's thin, tired face.
My mother never lost her ability to find beauty in the things around her. the bright flash of a hummingbird, the delicate petals of a violet, the restless twinkling of a star, rain-splashed leaves, the song of a bird, a well-told tale, the smile of a friend, the first morel mushroom in the spring.
I'm thankful that she opened my eyes to theses treasures. She has been my mentor. From her I have been learning that thankfulness is nurtured when we cherish the past and relish the present. Then it deepens in the future as it becomes a precious memory.
While I certainly appreciate the eagerness of children, the enthusiasm of youth, the strength of adulthood, it's the gentle wisdom of the elders that touches me most deeply. I love their great past, their lavish generosity and their patient disregard for time.
For some weeks I'd watched my mother began to abandoned her earthbound life and failing flesh. She seemed to brush my hand from her arm and look to the promise of a better future. Every day she left the rest of us farther behind.
"I don't know why I'm still here," she lamented.
"Because your family needs you," I offered. "Because you still have work to do."
"Work!" she said, holding up her trembling hands. "I can't do anything."
"You can still tell stories."
"No, I can't. When I try to remember a certain story... I forget how it goes."
But I urged her to tell me the story of the first loon. When she got stuck I helped her remember. What I'd forgotten she remembered. So we told a story together... just as we had so many times before.
Satisfaction twinkled in her bright eyes as she ended. "That's how Loon came to be."
Later i told our friend Larry Cloud Morgan about this incident and he told me the story of an elder woman who wept, "I'm not good for anything anymore!" He told how Creator had pitied the woman and had given her a task that never ends. She happily continues to weave the past into the future.
With Mom's passing I have become the oldest person in my immediate family. Now my children must turn to me for counsel. Therefore, I pray that I'll have something worthy to tell them and that my words will enrich their journeys.
Now it is time to spin new dreams with the fragile threads of memory and hope. Into this new fabric I'll weave all that is fine and rare and thankful, and pass it to my children when it's time for me to leave.

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