Fond du Lac Follies


A man I honored for many years died. Roy Joe Defore was 80 when he moved into the spiritual world. I respected him because when I was a young teenager, he came back from the the Korean War as an US Army paratrooper. He made his final jump from the military to life on the Reservation. Roy and nimisenh, my first cousin Geraldine, were married 55 years.

At one point we were both working for Fond du Lac construction at the same time. He lived at the north end of Northrup Road. Every time I drove by his house, and he was in the yard, I would throw him a Sawyer wave. He’d wave back. I was honored when his family decided to use my poem, End Of The Beginning, on his funeral card.

You earned your rest Roy Joe, Ogichidaa

**** I went to Duluth and a guy cut me with a knife. I learned as a writer to use an interesting first sentence to draw the reader into the story.

Actually it started a couple of months ago. My medical malady began when I started developing Freddy Flintstone feet, the left foot more than the right.

At first I tried hot water to soak them away because this sure wasn’t normal for me to have puffy feet. Those powerful feet that had carried me through the rice paddies of South Vietnam. I have never had a problem like this before so I went to Mino-ayaawin clinic. There, Lynn Kosmach, RNP agreed that I had fat feet. She gave me some compression socks to see if that would help. They worked fine for a while, I had feet that were normal in size for me. But as soon as I took them off my feet grew again.

Lynn suggested a blood test and the results told her there was something amiss with my kidneys.

The fat feet went away for a while then returned with both feet. So back to the clinic for another foot show-and-tell with Lynn. She suggested further tests. One of them was a sound something, sonogram maybe. Oh oh, that test showed an unknown mass in my left kidney.

Next was a CT scan. That showed a large tumor in my kidney, the unknown growth was almost the size of the whole organ.

We met with a specialist Dr. Jeff Engelsgjerd. He showed us the results of the CT scan and informed us when they are as large as this one was it was usually cancerous. Cancer in my kidney? I immediately thought of Agent Orange. I had been exposed to that dioxin when I was in South Vietnam as a young Marine. Thanks Uncle Sam, you are no longer my uncle.

In looking at the size of the tumor compared to the kidney itself there wasn’t much of the kidney that wasn’t tumor. After consulting with Dr. EngelsgjerdI we decided it would be easier to remove the whole kidney, tumor and all.

A date for the major surgery was agreed on and we prepared mentally and spiritually. The day arrived and a check showed my blood sugar was too high. Another date was agreed on and we started waiting..

Finally the big day arrived and we went to a hospital in Duluth. I had a physical check and was issued a party hat for my hair.

The surgery happened and I don’t remember much about it. I remember being wheeled into the operating room and waking up sometime later. I was glad to see my wife Patricia and not my maw’s smiling face. (She had died in 1969.) I was one kidney lighter, had a long cut in my gut, and I didn’t know what happened to my party hat.

I saw my wife Patricia standing there.  Her face told me the surgery was successful. I went to the recovery to be nursed back to good health, mino-bimaadiziwin  

I was moved to regular hospital ward. All of a sudden, Gary Farmer’s face came in the door, followed by his band the Trouble makers. Dr. Vainio of Mino-ayaawin and his son Jacob were in the group of visitors. The Troublemakers had stopped at our house to eat, relax and tell road stories a few days before. It sure felt good seeing all of these guys showing up in the hospital room. They were all dressed in black and they made me laugh.  

After a couple of days there the I escaped. I had my reasons for leaving Against Medical Advice. My wife was my accomplice. She drove the getaway van.

I got the boil fixed by another surgeorn, Dr. Lenz and now I am sitting at home recovering, been thinking of recovering at the bingo hall.  

Mii sa iw


The views expressed in this column belong to the writer alone, they are not meant to represent the medical establishment, Fonjalackers, veterans, or anyone else.  Comments and bingo packs can be addressed to  FdL Follies, PO box 16, Sawyer, MN 55780-0016 face book also.