Time always changes. That is one thing he remembered from Isaugha.

“I have lived a good life Mahkookins,” he said.  The changes from the old days to today have been hard to adjust to. I tried my best to be a good grandfather to you and you listened to what Kunshi and I spoke about. We took you to all the places we went so you can know a little bit about what we grew up with.”

Isaugha left one spring morning and Kunshi left the following winter. There was an empty void that he felt for a long time after that and retreated to his own world of memories of what he once was. He dreamed for those memories to be real once again. Those memories hurt and his tears needed to cry. The ways that use to work didn’t anymore and soon those beliefs became shadows in his crazy mind. He carried on.

Gone were the days when he was nothing more than an innocent young man.

That was replaced with what he thought were his responsibilities. His time served in the Navy showed him the fragility of humans. What words of Admirals and commanders made him perform duty without question but still made him question what he was meant to do.

Then the twice failed marriages where he thought, that he was doing what everyone else was doing, was correct…  He bartered with anyone who could hear his thoughts in trade for what was good but it was the price of his innocence that was… “held in hock”…. by many who wanted him to be who they wanted. He had to go into survival mode with sets of skills that were foreign to his old way of thinking.

Thats what the people were using nowadays to survive.
But they were not surviving.
They just thought they were surviving with their measuring sticks of success whittled by the hands of another people who knew nothing of the long ago times.

Ideas of using Role Models and Education to breed future success only made carbon copies of the servants the residential schools molded…
and the ensuing warranty stamped: approved by the churches.
“Good until this date…..”
Put in ground
Make more Role Models and encourage Education.

It could have made him miserable and vengeful but he always had the words of his grandparents in the back of his head where he kept them as shadows.

He carried on…

He was a fire-keeper. Isaugh saw to that and made him remain true to form in his younger years. You have to keep the fire going no matter what happens. The humans depend on it even when they are so far way. Let our ways continue no matter how small a spark it seems to you. Do not abandon hope and prayer. Without prayer all will be lost.

Despite the criticism he went to the ceremonies that felt right and passed on the ones where they claimed they had the one proper way to pray. It sounded like the churches to him but he would wish those humans well.

Through life he fought battles where the human spirit guided him to. Maybe it was for something he wanted. To a place he would not reach.  Maybe he had to give up on something. A dream? a wish? laughter?…. Love?…..

He would dream of her. Her scent, her voice, her eyes and her smile. She was close but still so far away. The touch of her skin so soft as a feather. Then he would chuckle to himself and say what a crazy way to be.

He left to travel… Searching for the human beings. Stopping every so often to take a knee- to catch his breath- to breathe in the aroma of memories that were fading little by little each day. Talking to himself because there was no one else to talk to. But he heard it all before… in his mind… it made time pass from days into years.

He looked into the mirror one day and noticed that the sheen of his black hair was fading away and was being replaced by white. No matter how many he plucked more would come back. It will make the time pass more quickly he thought and then he can go see his Isaugh and Kunshi and to the world where it made sense once again.

He witnessed families falling apart during times of family loss and saw it with his dad uncles and aunties. All sad, All hurt, All in need of touching love but feeling none. They retreated back to the worlds they knew and were familiar with. It didn’t hurt that much then.

They could use those damn survival skills the white men were teaching them and turning into a nice profit margin for themselves.
There were no rules in that world. Only the one with the most marbles at the end of the day was declared the winner……… To be repeated the next day with the rising sun.
Days became weeks that became months that became….. etc,… etc…. etc….. ( you know the story)

Now Itaugh (dad) was starting his journey to follow Isaugh.

Years before, he sat down with Wakinyan Duuta, and he told him with straight words about what he has to do when it is his turn to pass.

When Isaugh and Kunshi left they left a big hole for us to try and fill. I am afraid I didn’t do as well as I should have and don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did.

You have always been the oldest and you were taught well. I didn’t see that for many years because I thought you should have been what I wanted you to be.

I didn’t want you to join the military because I wanted you to work the ranch and animals. It made me mad at you and I wanted to hit you like I did to those little kids in residential school. Still you stood your ground and made me realize that I was your father and had to wish you well and let you find your place in the world.

When it is my turn to pass: you have to make sure that you do not shed a tear in front of anyone.

Your sisters and brothers will be watching you like a hawk. and your mom will be angry at my leaving. Carry on with all the planning we have talked about and don’t sway from that. Let the anger of everyone just wash over your back and carry on.

You are the fire-keeper and you will someday meet someone who will carry the fire for you next. So you cannot let the fire burn out. I know that now my son. I am proud of you.

You gave me my freedom to live without the continued shame of that terrible residential school and now I give you the freedom to see the world with the eyes of a human being.

He rode a fine sorrel horse. His Tahansi (cousin) and he sang songs all the way to the cemetery. They sang as loud as they could so Itaugh would feel welcome. The rest of the cowboys just whooped it up and fell in behind as their tribute to the man they all loved and respected.

And again he longed for those “before times” when everything was good in his own world but, he knew now, that times always change.

(Jan 31, 2015)

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