- Gender and Relationships
"Iskiw My Friend" by Rolly A. Chabot
I have been sitting here completing another novel tonight. My thoughts have been drifting back to the past and the relationships we form and how they have impacted us. Really just how important they become over time. What we speak into others is so very important. This hub is followed by another as they are chapters I have pulled from a novel I wrote called "Alone."
As always I welcome you to the Fireside. This is a time to gather and hopefully touch others with some words of love, caring and maybe even some wisdom. I do hope you can settle in a find some rest here.
Iskiw was a very special lady and one who touch the writer in a profound way. I would like to share a little of our time together with you and maybe there is something here that will touch your heart. May it make you more aware of who you are and who you will become through love. Rest assured you are dearly loved here at the Fireside.
Quiet Love and Respect
It was getting onto early evening so I would have a chance to get to the hospital in time to say hello to Iskwiw and catch up on the news. Maybe afterward I would still have some time to visit with my mom and dad. I headed northwest. When I arrived I had a heavy feeling I could not seem to shake and no idea what had brought it on.
I rounded the corner to Iskwiw's room. She sat with her back to the door. The woman in the bed beside her had the curtains pulled shut, so Iskwiw was alone looking out the window.
I approached and realized she was in prayer; her weathered hands clasped together, her Cree Bible in front of her. The room was filled with a presence I could not identify. She heard me and with a squeal of joy jumped off the bed and hugged me like I was a lost son.
She had so much to say. She pointed at her breast and made a fist as though attempting to tell me something new. “Mine,” she said and shook her head, “mine,” and she looked towards the heavens. I was moved by her emotions as she reached up, pulled my face close to hers and kissed me softly on the cheek.
I knew then that I had come for a reason, and that was to meet a new dear friend.
I learned that Iskwiw was being sent home the next day without treatment. That was her choice; she had just learned she would never recover from the cancer that had invaded her frail body. In her words she explained that, rather than go through all the complicated treatments, she simply wanted to go home and be with her family and friends. She wanted to go in peace as many had before her.
This woman was so unselfish she told the doctor to use the medication he would have given her to give someone else a chance at life. I spoke with her doctor that evening and he was amazed at her strength and willingness to give the gift of life to another.
After I returned to the room, Iskwiw patted the bed for me to sit. She was quiet for several minutes, holding my hand. She waved a hand over the lights and traffic below saying, “Not home to die in. Home is Old Crow.” She pointed to the North. “Old Crow home. Iskwiw go home now.”
The doctors had asked that she be escorted back to her community by a family member or friend and she was going to call that night to see if she could have someone flown down to help her. “Iskwiw, I’ll take you.” My time is finished here, I will take you home.”
I cared about her as if I had known her a lifetime and was glad to find something I could do for her. Besides, it would give me a chance to visit the people I wanted to see there anyway. It had been sometime since my last visit.
“God has sent you into my life for a reason,” she murmured, touching my face and smiling, and the reason is to take me home.”
After that we spoke little until Iskwiw began in broken Cree, “Home is where I go to be with my people and the land. My time is near, Rolly. If I am there I can go in peace.” She paused to take a long breath. “It has been a good life I have lived. My eyes have seen much, my ears have heard much. My body is tired but the spirit God has given me lives strong in my heart.”
I was still as I listened, understanding she would die soon. “We’ll leave tomorrow. I’ll make all the arrangements and be here in the morning. Now you get some rest.”
She gently kissed my cheek then pulled back the covers, slipping into bed as I tucked her in. She spoke again. “You go family, love is good gift” she closed her eyes and fell asleep.
I left with a new sense of purpose. It was time to go home anyway. I would spend the remainder of the evening with my parents and explain why I needed to go back early. They would understand. It was something my dad would have done if asked. “Do what God tells you, son, and go with our blessings,” he said softly.
Later that night I thought about the events of the past few days. The fact that I was heading north again made my heart light with excitement. I thought of the joy Iskwiw had shown when I suggested I travel with her. This little lady had so filled my heart with love and compassion with the gift she had given another; it has served as an example many times over in my life. When we have nothing else to give, we can give of ourselves; we become the greatest gift when we share ourselves with others. I was looking forward to the trip. It would be my pleasure to share as much time with her as I could.
Before I left her earlier that night I had dialed the phone so she could speak to her daughter. Iskwiw had shared the results of the tests. I was amazed as I listened to her consoling her daughter, even though it was she who had to face the inevitable. A mother never stops teaching; Iskwiw was teaching her daughter about life.
In Nature the old look after the young, and life is much the same. After time passes the young look after the old, who have to step aside and allow all the gifts they have been taught to be put into practice. It is all part of the process.
Eventually the teacher becomes the student, allowing the adult child to become the teacher. The old tree dies and falls to the ground and the moisture trapped around its decaying body nurtures the seeds that it has shed for years. Its rotting trunk becomes the fertilizer and life for the new seedlings. Iskwiw was preparing herself and her family for what was to come.
After the morning farewells with my family, I picked her up from the hospital. The trip to the airport was quiet; there was no need to speak, as we both knew the meaning of this trip. Iskwiw sat quietly with her hands crossed and eyes closed. I knew better than to disturb what was happening in her heart. She would share her thoughts with me later, when she was ready. I suggested we have breakfast. She had eaten little and we had three hours before boarding.
I had steak and eggs and Iskwiw just toast. I tried a few times to talk to her but it was difficult. As I looked across the street I noticed a ladies’ dress shop. After we finished eating, without hesitation I took her arm and marched her over to the shop. My instructions were simple: to find the most colourful clothes for her.
Iskwiw argued. “No,” she said in Cree.
I simply laughed and kept bringing the saleslady more dresses. “Gift.” I pointed to my chest and touched her heart. “My heart wants to give to yours.” I stood back and crossed my arms.
She finally smiled and started to try on dresses, though she shook her head at me over and over.
Finally I saw the Iskwiw I had first met on the plane. Her smiling face was back and she looked amazing. She had chosen a floral design with many colours, new shoes and a purse to match. I took her a few doors down to the hair salon for a quick trim and set. The girls who attended her were gracious, caring and loving. I shared her story with them and tears formed in the corners of their eyes.
Iskwiw was transformed. I felt peace knowing I had made a hard day better. It took her mind off the burden she carried. It was well worth the effort and the cost to see the change.
We arrived at the airport and as I dropped the car at the rental agency, I looked over at Iskwiw, who sat waiting all alone. She stood out from all the rest in her new clothes. She was staring at the throng of people that milled past, one after another. No one even took note of her. I thought of the fanfare that would await this woman when she arrived home. Homecoming of a loved one was an important event and she would arrive home a new lady.
Just love and be loved
In closing it is my wish that you love and be loved as we are called to be. Make an impact today on another life. It is a gift we can give freely and learned to accept with a grateful heart...
© Rolly A. Chabot