Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Lakota Grandmother's Cat


Now, Maya should know that her Granny has a friend named Frieda, and Frieda is half Irish, and half Lakota. And that means that, just like Maya, Frieda has a grandmother whose family has been in this country for a long time, and a grandmother whose family came to this country very recently. But, with Maya her Granny, whose family came from England, is from the family that has been here a long time and her Ma, whose family came from India, is from the family that came more recently. With Frieda, her Grandma, who is Lakota, is from the family that has been here a long time (ever so much longer than Granny's family has been here, as a matter of fact) and her Gran actually lives in the old country of Ireland and hasn't come here yet. And the thing is that Lakotas are American Indians, so that Frieda and Maya are each half European-American and half Indian,— but Maya is a different kind of Indian.

So, it happens that Frieda went to visit her Grandma on the reservation for Christmas. And her Grandma was telling her how she is getting older. And, indeed she is, because Frieda is older even than Granny, and so her Grandma is almost 100 years old. So, Grandma was telling Frieda, in Lakota, all about what it is like to be very old. She has to walk slowly. She has to rest often. She isn't as strong as she used to be. Sometimes she forgets words. She doesn't always hear exactly what people say to her. And she doesn't see as well as she used to.

Grandma was telling Frieda that one day she saw that her cat was asleep under the rocking chair. Now, she wanted to sit in that rocking chair, and she was afraid that she might rock on the cat's tail and hurt her. So, she called the cat. But the cat didn't move. So then Grandma went in to the kitchen and got a bowl of milk for the cat. She put the bowl of milk under the rocking chair. And that was when she realized that her cat wasn't under the chair at all,— it was her scarf! "No wonder, thought Grandma, that the cat didn't come when I called her."

Frieda says this story is much funnier when you tell it in Lakota. Granny would do that, but she doesn't know Lakota and neither does Maya. But what Granny thinks when she hears this story is that it doesn't matter where your grandmother comes from -- people are people everywhere. Many grandmothers are walking slower and not seeing or hearing as well as they did. And the ones that have cats, love those cats and don't want them to be hurt. And they all love to tell stories to their grandchildren. English or Indian, Irish or Lakota -- a grandmother is a grandmother the world around.

2 comments:

Deja Pseu said...

What a lovely story! Yes, I think there are some Granny tales that are universal.

Cuppa said...

How exciting to think that I will soon have to make sure I pick up my scarves, and put a very loud bell on the cat!

Loved the story.