Memories of my maternal grandma will always be with me. We called her “Ma’sani’ “(translated from my language it means — “Elder Mother.”) Our tribe is matrilineal so my four clans come to me through the female lineage of my parents ancestors. When I was a child I remember traveling to the deep frontier country in the back of our pickup truck to visit Grandma. The roads were dirt – not paved. The air was fresh and my hair would blow wild in the breeze. I was so excited because we were going to grandma’s house. My maternal grandmother lived about 35 miles off the main roadway. On rainy days the dirt roads were hard to maneuver because of the mud. My dad was a fine driver so there was no need to worry. It was fun to ride in the back of the pickup truck as we sloshed through the mud.
It was so exciting when we reached that last hill — the final marker that we were almost at Grandma’s. The moment we pulled up at Grandma’s house, my brother and I would jump out of the truck and run to the shade house where grandma was busy cooking. She was always cooking and cleaning, at least that is what I remember. She did not have electricity, plumbing or running water but it was the best place in the word to me. Before leaving our house Mom packed groceries and dad loaded barrels full of water to replenish grandma’s supply.
Grandma greeted us with her loving hugs and smile. She did not speak English, only our native language. I understood her as she spoke to us but I had difficulty speaking our language. I think she tried harder to talk to us in English than I did in speaking our language. The reason was that when I tried to speak our native words, they came out sounding funny and those listening would laugh. Although we had some challenging communication barriers, Grandma always seemed to get what I was trying to tell her. She really enjoyed having us there. She made sure that we had plenty to eat and always managed to have a sweet and tasty desert to share. It was sad when it was time to leave especially after visiting and playing all day. As we pulled away from her house we’d watch Grandma waiving at us until we couldn’t see her anymore. The trip home was always so lonely.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.