Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Memories of Unci and Le Tour Hits the Alps

I seem to be fighting my way to "competence" with my new blog software/format fairly well. It's still a bit stumbling on my part, but it does seem to be cross-posting correctly. Sometimes old dogs like me really don't like new tricks. I have to think too much in the early morning with the new format - it's not in my blood yet, so I'm expected to think before 5:00 am. There are sometimes when that just doesn't happen - LOL. 

In this photo, Grandma (Unci Zona) is on the right, and 
her sister, Sadie is on the left. There was a third sister, 
Nancy, who I met once. In this photo the two are all 
dressed up to attend my nephew's high school 

Today came up in my calendar as the date when my Unci Zona died out in Pine Ridge. I'll have to try to text my sister today and let her know I'm thinking about her and the family on this memorial date. Unci (Grandmother) was a force - very respected and beloved in the community, loving, welcoming, and the matriarch of the family with a well developed ability to make you think twice about doing something she disapproved of. She didn't yell, she was quite soft spoken, but she was strong. Despite her lack of a sharp tongue, you wanted to do what she asked, to please her and get that wonderful smile of hers in return. 

In this photo, Grandma and Auntie Sadie 
are again right and left. This photo was 
taken in front of Grandma's house. 

Grandma Zona was the reason my brother moved back to Pine Ridge after many years in the Twin Cities area. He had a house that he actually owned, a family he was raising, friends and comrades throughout the area, and he was well known as a spiritual leader of the Lakota Oyate. But, after many years, Unci decided it was long enough and asked him to return to the Reservation. That was all it took. He uprooted his family, put up a double-wide mobile home on his land near her home, and moved back to South Dakota. He was often in the Cities afterward - visiting for this or that or holding a ceremony for someone. We were still in touch, but it was different than just dropping by the house and visiting with him and the kids. Now there was 13 hours of driving between us. 

Here, Grandma is with my niece Rachel, dressed in her 
cap and gown for her High School graduation. I was 
able to see Rachel for a short time when I was back 
last year for my brother's funeral (her father). She's 
grown into a beautiful and talented woman. 

Still, for many more years, I went out to the Reservation at least once a year, often more, to see Unci and visit my brother, to participate in various ceremonies, and to help out. One of the last times I was out there, my sister Maja and I tore Unci's kitchen apart and put in a new floor, then painted the kitchen, living room and hallway of her little BLM log house. It was a week of hard work, but I noticed things were still looking pretty good when I was back there last year for my brother's funeral. 

All COVID tests came back negative, so we're on for 
the final week of Le Tour de France. Today we're 
into the big mountains - the Alps - and here's where 
teams will be crushed and dreams will be left 
behind. We have serious mountains until the 
individual time trial on Saturday and the ride into 
Paris on Sunday. It's been a great race so far with 
lots of surprises, so I'm anxious to see what will 
happen in these storied peaks. 

So, on this day of remembrance for me, I ask all of you to remember those people who have been important in your life. Cherish them if they are still alive, and recall interactions with them if they are no longer walking among us. Remember how your life was enriched by your interactions with them and consider yourself fortunate to have those memories. Have an excellent Tuesday and I'll be back tomorrow, and please - be safe, stay well and wear your mask. 

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