Dysfunctional teachers...thats what my family was. On the one side was religion and on the other those lacking in what was deemed 'less than moral'. Funny when you think about it...religion is supposed to be honest, loving, supportive, non judgmental, a place you go to be one with God. Yet those in my religious family were anything but. How does one believe in something that is said but not practiced? I remember back stabbing and lies and hatred and prejudice even within the family members...I remember money being at the root of so many things, and I remember the greed and the striving to 'keep up with the Joneses' all the while someone was in need of food or clothing or a place to live. And I remember the remarks aimed at other religions that were not 'good religions' and I remember not being allowed to play with certain children because they were 'beneath' us. How very sad...
My favorite song as a child, that held the words that would guide my life was Jesus Loves The Little Children. The words that touched my heart 'all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white'. It seems inconceivable to me that a religious person could hear those words, preach those words but then not live those words. That a person who claimed to be a teacher of God's love and words could then turn on those very words with prejudice against any color but their own.
In the picture you see me as an infant, seemingly perfect in God's sight. Not perfect in my family's sight however because my father was Native American. So from the time I was born, because I had brown hair and blue eyes and very white skin I became the subject of one big lie. I never knew my father until I was 19 years old. All my life I was told he was white, that he had died, that he didn't matter because I had other family to raise me. When I was 18 I had to have my birth certificate to get married. While searching for it in my gran's cedar chest I came upon a letter that had my last name on it...a letter from Oklahoma, it was hidden amongst some linens. Since I knew (or so I thought) that we had never lived in Oklahoma I was curious and I took the letter from the hiding place gran had it in the chest and tucked it away to read when she wasn't around.
On the trip to Idaho to get married I opened it and read it. It was a letter from my father's mother, who I also did not know existed. I cried as I read the words she wrote pleading with my grandmother and mother to allow her, my grandfather and my father to see me. It said that she had sent a doll for me at Christmas and that she hoped I would be allowed to have it, I never saw it! A few days after I was married I sat down and wrote a letter to the address on the envelope, 'praying' that if she was no longer at that address that it would be forwarded...tho I didn't hold out hope because 17 years was a long time. But spirit was listening and the letter was forwarded and 2 months later I got a letter from her with my father's address. I was shaking from the emotions that washed over me as I read the letter over and over.
The letter was tear stained when I got it and even more after, what an incredible feeling touching the spots where my grandmothers tears had fallen as she wrote to me, telling me how long she had hoped to hear something about me, how she had asked Great Spirit over and over to help us find each other...she spoke of the hole in my father's heart all these years, spoke of him not being well and that she hoped I would write to him before it was too late. As I wrote to my father all the lies of the past 17 years flooded my mind and then I knew why I had been lied to...I was an embarrassment to my family because I was 'part' injun...yep! there it was, that deceit that I had begun recognizing at an early age, that knowing that religion at least in my family was just a means to cover up things they didn't want known...more on that later.
When I wrote my father I gave him my phone number and told him to please call if he wanted to know me. Three days later I had my answer, he called and we talked for what seemed like hours tho it was probably only one. It truly was as if we had known each other always, he confirmed to me why I had done things as I did as a child. For instance, communing with nature rather than going to the mall with the other kids...always taking the Indian role in Cowboys and Indians games...gathering stones and feathers and shells...talking to the animals, never having any fear of any animal...so many things made sense to me then.
I never asked for the usual girlie things for Christmas and birthdays, I wanted an Indian Princess costume, handcraft items, I wanted to explore everything and to know 'why' it was and why it was where it was. I remember once at about 7 years old, after an earthquake in Wenatchee, that I made a circle with stones and sat at the center of it silently with my eyes closed just listening, letting dirt sift through my fingers, feeling the warmth of the sun and in my mind were visions of earthly things, animals, trees, rivers and more. My cousins called me weird and my family said I had a vivid imagination...in a way they were right, only it wasn't imagination but truth in my mind. I was doing things that were natural for me to do...
I didn't have my father for long, he passed away about 5 years later without ever having a face to face meeting, but after numerous phone calls and letters. There were two things he said to me that I didn't understand fully then but I follow reverently now...'honor the inner child and listen with your heart'. He said if I listened with my heart I would be wise beyond what I could imagine and the inner child would give me new eyes everyday and make me joyful in many things. He was right but I never had the chance to tell him.
To be continued...
Jul 12, 2010 10:43:13 pmby magnus073 Homepage »
Lynn, all I can do is say since we are so close and discuss most matters in private I'll keep it that way. You know I love you like family and will always be there fro you anytime you need me. You've been through so much in your life, and honestly most people wouldn't have held up half as good as you through half of it. The sad thing is there are some people who claim to represent God but then do anything but that. We are all his children and he loves each and every one of us. It's just sometimes a few bad apples warp his message of love and try to make themselves feel better by putting others down. We can talk about this more later in private. Hugs
Jul 12, 2010 10:55:45 pmby auntietk Homepage »
This is wonderfully written, my friend. Straight from your heart, speaking your truth, with no "sour grapes" and no sense of large pockets of unfinished business. You tell your story with love and compassion, and I'm looking forward to reading the next installment.
Jul 14, 2010 12:32:54 pmby Chipka Online Now! Homepage »
I am incredibly glad that I saw this, and I have to say that the specifics of your story are quite different from anything I've experienced, but the root causes are the same; ah, but prejudice, fear-and-loathing, and all of that gunk all stem from the same source--something a friend of mine calls "existential badness." It exists in-and-of itself and infects people who are otherwise innocent and "good." It's kinda like something Maxine Hong-Kingston said in her novel Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book. She said it about a particular racial slur beginning with the letter "N," but it applies to the sorts of slurs that often lead to even more detrimental things. "It's in the American air," she stated, "and will use any zombie mouth." She described racism and sexism and other -isms as verbal flatulence: people making farting noises when they should be talking. The problem today is so many people are farting and acting as if they're saying something that anyone else needs to hear! The thing is, you can't blame people for farting: they do it because they've been hijacked, and it's fantastic to see that you're not pointing the finger of blame and looking for some kind of payback--non-farting people are like that.
There's so much more that I could say, and I am sure that I will (in private) but I definitely wanted to say how moving this is, and how much of my own life is put into perspective by just reading this. I plan to live and work in Russia (in Moscow) because of someone special to me, and I lived in the Czech Republic for a while...that experience alone was as cathartic to me as you reconnecting with your father. It's always an amazing feeling when one discovers family, whether it's genetic, or spiritual or both. I found a spiritual family--which is hilarious because they're all a bunch of slightly kooky bookworms and artists, beer drinkers and mushroom-pickers over on the other side of the planet, but the rush of feelings you describe when reconnecting with your father is so similar to the rush of feelings and rightness I felt when I stepped off of the plane in Prague and was disappointed that the Czech Republic seemed so...appropriate rather than exotic, foreign, or even interesting...oh, it became interesting, but I suspect beer and a certain group of friends had something to do with that! But anyway, enough of that...this is a marvelous and moving piece of writing, and I'm incredibly glad that I was given the honor of reading it!
Jul 25, 2010 9:42:57 amby NefariousDrO Homepage »
That is an incredibly moving account, I'm so impressed that you haven't fallen into the lies, but are setting out on your own path towards a greater honesty and spiritual integrity. It takes courage to share something like this with strangers and near-strangers, we're humbled by the strength you have shown.
Jul 26, 2010 12:44:32 pmby myrrhluz Homepage »
This is an incredibly beautiful telling of great sadness and strong perseverance of spirit. I am so glad you were able to know your father and your grandmother. The stories of the letters, and all the power they contained, moved me. The first letter written by your grandmother all those long years ago. Horrible as their actions were, it is a blessing that it was not destroyed. It lay hidden all those years with the power to heal and make reparations, locked in its words. Your letter, sent into the clouds of time, a letter you sent out with little expectation or hope but with a desire that filled your being. Your grandmother's letter blessed with her tears and full of her love and long held hopes of someday reaching you. And then your letter to your father, I can only imagine his joy at receiving it and your shared joy at finding each other after all the years and lies that had stood between you. Your narrative has all the sadness, blindness, hypocrisy, hate, and all of the joy, awareness, perseverance, and love that are part of the human condition. Thank you for sharing it. You are a person of great spirituality and courage and I am privileged to know you.
Dec 31, 2010 2:30:57 pmby Orinoor Homepage »
This is fantastic, hard because of the lies, but so beautiful and wonderful that you were able to make that connection to the part of your life that was missing. I did things in childhood too, rituals totally outside my family, perhaps from the side of my family I've never known and I just think it is so wonderful that you discovered some of your mysteries. Thank you so much for sharing it with us here!