It Ain’t Easy Being Indian: May 2018

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By Ricey Wild

No matter your age right now, imagine yourself almost 100-years-old. Wow, right? I’m trying to fathom that and I just can’t even. Well, my beloved Gramma Rose will celebrate three digits on May 15th. I’ve written so much about her in my column over the years that she has her own ‘celebrity’ status. She is the only reason I moved up here to Rezberry. We sure had a lot of fun and many adventures before we had to settle down. Alas, our bones have mandated we do so. Sigh.

Rose was born in a year that is remarkable for many things. WWI broke out, the Spanish Flu decimated over 100,000 people worldwide, and The Great Cloquet Firestorm (in Minnesota) laid waste to an entire region and killed many people in this area. But no Indian people died because they knew to head for the river and how to fight fires. My Gramma, only six-months-old at the time, was put into a well with siblings and held by her brother Chick LaPrairie. Little Rosie was apparently unafraid of the natural disaster above her and was singing a baby song.

She was born 1918. Ah! I think sometimes about her and the other kids who lived through that devastating fire. Had they perished, I wouldn’t be here writing this – but I would not have known it. Twisted, yah? Can you imagine a world where you had never existed? My personal belief is that we are all recycled souls who have lived many incarnations but don’t always remember our previous lives. That’s me; ya’ll get on with your own perception.
My intent is to get into a state of Nirvana so I don’t have to put up with this sick world anymore. Welp, having written and pondered it deeply it seems I don’t have a ticket outta here anytime soon. I just poked my lip out and crossed my arms in a petty pout. See now? I gotta quit that kinda behavior.

But back to the subject at hand…my Gramma Rose has been the one person in my life that has loved me unconditionally in the full sense of the word. She has taught me compassion, deep love and forgiveness. Bless her for that, she had to learn it before she could teach me, too.

Rose was born at home in a farmhouse just down the road from where I now live. I asked about her earliest memories and one of them is riding in a wicker buggy pulled by a pony. She says memories are funny, why some stick around and others don’t, like they’re a snapshot in time. My Gramma grew up on the Rez at a time when there was no electricity, no running water inside the home, no telephone, and not even a car. She said they walked everywhere, even when it was 40 below. She and her cousins walked barefoot in the summer and ate everything that was put on her plate. Her father, Henry LaPrairie, was a trapper so Rose ate the available game meats and organic food her entire young life.

She was also the tallest of her female sibs at the towering height of 5”2. Her sisters Caroline, Mary, Lady (Agnes) and Winifred were shorter, but all were fiery women who split wood and did what they had to do to live. Today my Gramma is so ‘widdle’ as we say. But just think a minute beyond her appearance now – to make it this far and she’s been diabetic since 1980. IKR??? I’m so proud of her for many reasons. And being on top with her health and medical needs all these years is amazing. Take a note, folks.

Every time I and Gramma are together we laugh and laugh, almost falling off our seats. Just being silly and needing a really good belly buster. I am her first-born grandchild and very fortunate to have spent many early years with her. Spoiled? Entitled? Moi? You betcha, but she has taught me to be a better person and for that I am eternally grateful.
I really wish I could communicate just how much I adore my Gramma and appreciate her. Tell ya what, I’m going to infuse this column with glorious love – so hold it close to your heart and feel how I feel. I kiss her soft cheek. I scratch her back just so in that spot. And I love to cook for her. I bring ‘her’ dog Mitzi over to visit every time cuz I can’t show up without her.

The family is having a party for her on her birthday and some are motoring here for this monumental occasion. Save travels my kinfolk and we are waiting for you. Rezberry is calling you home.