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Location: Redding, CA, United States

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Four Funerals and a Wedding

Since my mother passed away last year, I have been to four more funerals and learned about the wedding of a young person we knew when she was a fresh faced new student.

I realize that we are all getting older; people die - that's the nature of life, and people age, find love, and marry. Both of these thing, funerals and weddings are profound events and both can be cause of tears and joy at the same time.

Here at the village we lost, my Mother, our cousin Randy, our niece Erika, and our sister-in-law, Sarah. Each funeral was held at our tribal cemetery, in the traditional way, and we sang our relative home to the other side where we hope we will be fortunate enough to see them again.

The last funeral I attended on behalf of the Tribe was for my Brother Richard and his very large family in Sacramento, who lost their matriarch at the age of 91 this past week. I, unfortunately missed the days before the burial due to the work being done on stopping the water bonds and canal plans, but made it to Sacramento in time for the grave-side service. I was struck by the difference of place:this was a beautiful, flat, park-like place with thousands of grave markers and monuments. The service was short but moving; I am not a church person but understood the connection of the saints to our spirit people and to the passage to a better place. While the location was different and there were no songs to help the departed in their travel, the grief was the same as the funerals I had been to at home.

I cried for this mother who had welcomed me into her family as one of her own and I cried for her children and relatives she was leaving behind in this physical world but, I was happy to remember that her family had been brought up in the best way possible: with love and respect and a sense of duty to their communities. I remembered from other times seeing one son in his police uniform, a grandson in his military regalia, a daughter caring for those who were sick and another who worked in youth corrections but with a firmness that was like an aunt making sure you stay out of trouble and my Brother who educates and counsels the students of the university. These gifts that Tina left for the world erased the tears from my face as they, like the gifts left by the others I have sung to the other side, will remain strong and vibrant with the memory of their mother.

We are losing the golden generation due to disease and age, just as we are starting to lose the "boomers" and the children of Gen-X. At ceremony this year, my 10 year-old great nephew spoke to the people. He talked of a great many things, but what fits for me today is his statement:"the children need to take care of their parents and the parents need to take care of their children." This lady that passed, just like my own mother, did just that. And for the children, I know you all did just that too! We will all continue on until we too join our people on the other side of the river but until then we need to continue what that young boy said and take care of each other.

The wedding, I didn't get to, but I want to add the Winnemem family congratulations to Yvonne C and her spouse. Remember that it is the female eagle who chooses her mate and we know that you have chosen well.

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