THE LAST MEDICINE MAN

The doctor said Grandpa wouldn't last to the night. I cried through the morning, already missing his gravelly voice painting with bold strokes, pictures of our Indian heritage.

As a young man Grandpa was a wicasa wakan, a Medicine Man. Grandma said, when Mama was born, Grandpa studied the thin fingers of clouds that streaked the sky red. Then he plunged his hands into the soil, working it with his strong fingers. "No son," he had said sadly, "I will have no son to be wicasa wakan, to soar with the eagle and know the wind, sun and sky. No son to feel the Earth, feel her life, to draw forth her wisdom." His lament became truth as his and Grandma's love gave birth only to daughters. None of them received tribal names, nor I, his only grandchild -- he believed his descendants lost to a world outside his soul.

"That's when he really died," Grandma said. "His spirit seemed to leave him in the breath of his heavy sigh. And he abandoned many of the old ways; today he abandons life." She shuddered slightly and gazed at the bedroom door, memories writing even more years into her brow. "He's really been dead a long time," she said as her sad eyes looked back to another day.

But I say, you will not be gone, Grandpa. Though I shall mourn and wail with the others, you shall live on in my soul. You are the spirit of my dreams, my past and my future. Together we shall soar upon the currents of the Mother Earth and I will bare my face to the Father Sun.

 

Copyrighted by Lawrence Swyfte 2003

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