Our Cherokee heritage comes from both sides of Mom’s lineage.
I remember sitting on the floor in front of Granddaddy’s favorite chair, as he told me the story of the Indian that circled his property nightly, in a dance of protection.
I’d only met Granddaddy once. Grandmama would periodically fein a heart attack in order to bring her ten children from all corners of the country, when she got lonesome for her kin.
I know I’d spent time with mom’s folks prior to that particular “heart attack” in 1965, but this visit was particularly memorable.
Before I get into my story, picture this: two adults, two children and a Great Dane travelling from Philadelphia to Kennett, Missouri in a light blue convertible MG. Pray it didn’t rain, because Zorba wouldn’t fit in the car with the top up!
What a ride!
Crossing the Mississippi River from Memphis to Kennett on a ferry was an adventure for an eight year old girl. Not to mention the unlit, single lane dirt roads with river on either side. Kinda scary with a Philly boy behind the wheel!
Anyway, once in Kennett, life as we knew it changed, even if only for a bit. In retrospect, I think it changed all of us for life. Dad, the city boy, greeted all he met, when walking through town, with a heart-felt “howdy!”. Missouri folk are a friendly sort and that friendliness permeates your soul.
Unfortunately, Mom was bedridden most of our visit with a debilitating sinus condition, so Granddaddy took over and showed us kids our heritage.
Granddaddy was known in Kennett as “The Gentleman Farmer”. He’d hand-plow his vegetable fields wearing neatly pressed navy blue pants, a starched white shirt, tie and a navy blue hat. Gentemen always wore hats.
But, when the sun went down, he’d spin his stories about the injun who protected his house. He’d say, “Come here, Cheyenne, let me tell you a story”. Mind you, my name is not Cheyenne and he wasn’t senile! Granddaddy brought me into our Cherokee heritage with that acclimation. Until he died, Granddaddy always called my “Cheyenne”.
Granddaddy was awesome to me. He was stoic and proper, raised Southern Baptist (babtist, as the Baptists say), but when the sun went down and the Indian Ghost began his protective walk of the perimeter, Granddaddy transformed. He became mystical and captivating. He claimed his Cherokee roots.
Granddaddy had crystal blue eyes, which added to his mystique. His eyes captivated you, always with his words. I’m the only one in my immediate family with blue eyes. Granddaddy’s eyes. Cheyenne’s eyes.
The Cherokee Spirit
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The healing Cherokee spirit
Two years ago, I had a cancer scare. My mother, who is a spiritual woman, called upon Granddaddy, who died when I was a teenager, to “fix Sha”. It wasn’t until I told my Mom the day my symptoms receded, (Christmas day two years ago), that she admitted she’s pleaded to Daddy, my Granddaddy. On that day!!
I’ve always felt a special kinship to Granddaddy. On this Thanksgiving, in the year 2011, his Spirit continues to drive my being. I’m sure he’s talking to Mom, as he’s talking to me today.
Mom and I know that Granddaddy’s Cherokee Spirit came into “Cheyenne” and expelled the cancer threat. He knew my Cherokee Spirit has a mission and my time has just begun…
Shauna L Bowling
Refining, Defining or Rhyming
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© 2011 Shauna L Bowling
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