I got a message from my Chief yesterday saying that her mom is really sick and that I should go see her because she does not have long. She told me that she asked about me and talked about me a lot. In my pre-teen years my grandparents had left my home community as they were getting old so they had moved to the City to be better cared for. Therefore, I had nowhere to stay but wanted to work and she took me in for the summer.
Those memories are strong because she cared for me when she didn’t have to and gave me a place to stay, cooked me breakfast, lunch and dinner and even looked for us at night. We always wanted to stay out late at night as most kids that age do, I was just entering high school so one can imagine what we were getting into. As it got late we could see a flash light jumping around the community, lighting up the best hiding spots it seemed, I think it may have lit up the skies too.
There was no hiding from that light or she, when it was time to come home it was time. She cared so much for us that she didn’t want us to be out late and she wanted to ensure we got a good night’s rest for the next day of work. It was a time that racism, prejudice and other forms of discrimination were introduced into my life, which was followed by confusion and many questions unanswered at the time, so her gentle presence was a necessary one.
She represented, as she does today, a symbol of love and compassion, a role model in which the people of our community strive to be. She wore an effortless smile and carried with her a big heart, a natural parent that never stopped being one and I knew then as I do now that if the world was full of people like her, it would be a better place. She is a great grand-mother, grandmother and mother to many, but that summer she was a mother to me and a positive memory soothing to my mind, heart and spirit.
I will go see her today and tell her that my heart is stronger because of her and that the community she will soon be leaving is also stronger and carries with it traces of her love and compassion. I will ask her to say hi to my grandparents, my brother and the many Ancestors who left as she soon will. Finally, I will promise to her that I will fight for and protect the land she could never leave. Her home was her community and her family were the people in it. A mother to me she was, a role model she will forever be.