Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Eagle Butte
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Love for unci and shimasani serve as an important reminder

Alaina Beautiful Bald Eagle

Sometimes we are in such a rush that we expect the world to move at the same fast pace we are, but unplanned moments can remind us all of the importance of slowing down and enjoying life. This happened to me today, with our inevitable publishing deadline approaching, where we work diligently to send our pages to be printed. There is no time to waste, and every minute of the hour on Tuesdays, is spent reaching the goal of meeting the deadline.

I spent the morning hours calling veterans, interviewing them about events that had occurred during the fair weekend, and almost all were male. The phone conversations were quick and straight to the point, something that I, as a reporter, am used to and have come to appreciate in my line of work.

Then came the call to my friend, Wilma, whom I was calling to speak to about her late-grandmother. You see, I thought I could quickly call Wilma, get essential details, and move about my day, writing my story. The conversation did not go as I had planned.

After spending over 30 minutes on the phone with Wilma, not only was I in tears, I had the privilege of listening to intimate and private stories about her grandmother, Hazel Owl King. Not only was Hazel a World War II veteran, she was highly respected and loved by her community members.

WWII veteran Hazel Owl King

Reserved and humble, Hazel had never sought attention or recognition during her many years living on Cheyenne River; rather, she quietly helped her community, oftentimes donating to ceremonies and memorial rides, said Wilma.

As the conversation lasted, I learned about her last days on Earth with her family, and the details and memories Wilma shared made me think of my own grandmother, Eleanor, and her last moments with us.

Wilma and I grew up over a thousand miles from one another, in two completely different traditional ways, her being Lakota, and I, Navajo; however, the love we had for our grandmothers transcended cultural and social differences.

After 30 minutes, from what started as a, “Can I get a quote from you about Hazel’s flag?’ turned into a memorable conversation, and time stood still. No longer was the looming deadline pounding through my head, no longer were my shoulders tense and my jaw clenched – I was relaxed, listening to Wilma’s words that painted a beautiful photo of her grandmother.

The conversation needed to happen- I need a reminder that no matter how busy life gets and how much I think something is a priority, it’s the human connection and family that matters most.

Love can stop time, bring tears of joy, and can transcend life’s busiest moments. As Wilma said, if you are lucky enough to still have your grandparents, take time to visit them and learn from them. And if they have journeyed on into the spirit world, remember and honor them, for it is from their seed that we exist right now.

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