Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A memory of my Dad and of Marilyn Youngbird - part 1

My father had passed away several years ago. Just prior to his passing, he was staying at our home. I was so excited to have him with us. He was living with my brother at the time and my brother would tell these wonderful stories about how much fun they had going to ballgames and hanging out and simply spending time with each other in very everyday but meaningful ways. I was envious, and wanted to create the same opportunities for my Dad and I. So we went to a Seattle Mariners ballgame. While at the game, my Dad began to feel ill (my Dad's health was always rock solid) and I kind of pushed him, wanting to show him a good time. He hung in there pretty well but we left early. I was disappointed, my father feeling sick, my plans dashed. The remaining week with us had some beautiful times, but there were also times when I didn't meet the situation of his health is well as I had wished. I just didn't get how sick he really was and Dad was always a pretty stoic, tough guy.

My Dad died not long after that. I felt terrible, so responsible for his dying. His symptoms started at my home, at least in an obvious way, and I felt I had pushed him too hard and that I had failed him.

About a year later, Marilyn Youngbird, a medicine woman and tribal member from the Arikara and Hidatsa Nations, came to stay at my home. I had arranged for her to conduct a sweat lodge for friends and students in the Seattle area. In her room we placed a box with chimes located in the middle of it toward the bottom, a magnet on the inside top or ceiling of the box, and dozens of little metal balls, about the size of large BBs. By turning the box upside down, the metal balls would stick to the magnet and then when the box was turned upright the metal balls would slowly and randomly be released from the magnet and fall, hitting the chimes in a very spontaneous and beautifully melodic and meditative way. This release and the music it plays can go on for some time, depending on how long the box is left upside down. Thinking she might enjoy it, I had prepared the box for Marilyn before she came, setting it upside down by her bed. After she had left, I got curious to see if Marilyn had noticed the box and when I checked I saw that the box was now upright, so I figured she had found it and listened to the soothing sounds it provided.