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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 54

The British Kept a Cominí

How we managed to raise the children was always a miracle to me. I joked we were always two weeks away from total poverty and on occasion the expression wasnít just a thought but reality when one or the other of Rodneyís jobs ended. Thank heaven for workmanís insurance with a company. There was always enough for milk and bread until the next job came around. Once in a while when we were down to nothing, off we would go to Dallas again to work a short time for as long as I could stand the city.

The only breaks we had were the yearly conventions held by our faith. To do this I practiced a religion having nothing to do with Christianity but rather a matter of economics. I paid close attention to saving for these conventions by having an art exhibit, taking in students or baby sitting.

Myriad Convention Center at Oklahoma City was where a lot of the yearly gatherings were held. Congregations from a great numbers of a particular district met together in the convention hall that was as big as any sports stadium. This is where I was content to sit through lectures from the Bible. It was always a wonderful time because not only did I get treasured physical rest but inevitably I would see someone I hadnít seen for years and sometimes even from the time I was a child.

The tall slender dark complexioned man stood a short distance from me. This expanse of the place was always a wonder to me. How in the world could there be any chance meeting of anyone, but here it was.

I noticed him because of one article of clothing he wore. Usually there was no identification of clothing or something so that you could tell what race a person might be. His tie was the broadcloth fabric so many of the Native American people wore. It was a plain dark blue in the classic wool, woven, texture and on the very edge were the colors to be seen on broadcloth, a bit of yellow, a line of red and all with a soft line created by the weaving of the fabric. This was a sure statement that he was of a some tribe.

Broadcloth is the fabric with a long history for us, reaching back to the French traders who brought the trade cloth from Europe down the water ways of America. The accounts go back to the Romans who took the rough fabric to England where the Brits refined it to this soft lovely fabric it now is. To own even a small piece of Broadcloth like this is costly. This act of respect to wear such an article at a special occasion would not be understood by any here unless they were Native American.

"What tribe are you?" I boldly asked.

When he spoke, there was no doubt in my mind he was, indeed, of some tribe. He stood quietly for a moment and looked off into the distance as if he were at the edge of some tall bluff on the prairie gazing out over the terrain.

"Iím Choctaw." He answered and this was his only reply. No other information was forthcoming as is characteristic of Native Americans.

"Are you married?" Again I asked in a direct way and had no apologies to make for that because again it is our way. No forked tongue here, just speech aimed as sure as the mark of an arrow.

"Sheís over there." He turned his whole body and tilted his head slightly toward the place where his wife was sitting. I wanted to smile because sometimes Ponca people used to point with their lips. He didnít do that but used his body instead.

So it was, he and his wife became our friends and some way or another we would meet again occasionally. Once they invited us to a fun dance and party when their teen-age children were with them and that was joyful association there at Cushing, Oklahoma.

An old time fiddle player met my request to play the song, "The Eighth of January" which was played during my youth by my Grandmother. Her brother William Collins must have taught her. The tune was like fire to the gathering and instantly there were people who couldnít keep their feet still.

"They fired their guns but the British Kept a Comin." The fiddle player knew the notes and the quick rhythm of the violin set everyoneís feet to dancing.

Rhonda was always with us whether for Amway meetings or a gathering like this. Her paraplegic condition didnít let her take part but she always seemed to enjoy the antics of those around her. We never did much with Amway other than using the products, but we stayed involved for the meetings where there was a lecture and then a fun time around a table in some nice restaurant where we all visited, Rhonda included.

If a person watched Rhonda closely, sometime she might quietly wipe away a tear while a beautiful ballerina or a wonderful ice skater performed. These were the difficult moments for me. I was passed the point of having to take a shower to cry alone. It was just as easy to walk away into another room for a bit.

Rhonda and I laughed heartily while watching the young ones doing the Virginia Reel that night at the Cushing dance. A couple of the girls were involved in conversation and missed their place to come into the dance while their partners stood waiting for them. The expressions on the boys faces as they waited for the girls was just too funny, we thought.

The innocense of young men's puzzled expressions had a look that seemed to ask, "Are we dancing here, or are we visiting?"

Like dancers in the Virginia Reel we skipped along through the heaviness of what could have been defeating to a place where we learned to accept what was, without using our circumstances as an excuse to fail.

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