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Mother Bear

My mother is Native American.  And yes although I look incredibly Dutch, except maybe around my eyes and face shape.  I was raised on the heart of an Indian Reservation and it is the place I call home.  There are a handful of Indian Reservations in northern Wisconsin.  My mother is from the Bear clan, we have three clans.  The oldest daughter was basically given to the grandmother.   It was a common practise up until the mid-sixties, when there was so much social change everywhere.  It is rare to continue this cultural practise anymore.  This hand off was such a natural custom it wasn't even spoken about.   I was partly raised by my Native American grandmother until she had a stroke when I was 7.  She took me around to all her old childhood haunts and I always felt her eyes on me. 

After her stroke I became a sort of companion.  She couldn't speak so I spent years together in quiet reverie with her and we developed a good connection.  I'd like to think this experience left me with a higher sense of intuition.  We moved to the South West or I surely would have continued spending a lot of time with her.   I had a friend who was from Thailand during university named Jupe.  She told me they did they same thing in Thailand with oldest girls, and the tradition has also faded.  Jupe told me that it was to ensure that there was someone to take care of the grandmother in her old age.  My mother being the oldest girl had had the same experience with her grandmother.  I consider myself sympathetic to Native Americans and feel a certain affinity for other cultures.  Although only mildly interested in Native American practises.  

My parents married the fall after my mother graduated from high school.  She had me at 18 and my two other sisters where born soon after.  My parents lived like a middle aged couple by their early 20's and were basically miserable with each other and the situation.  Blind to the circumstances and potential solutions or options available.  My mother frustrated as she would have liked to have started college.  My father didn't seem to enjoy having a family although I have no doubt he loved us.  They eventually figured it out in their fashion.  Meanwhile I experienced a fraught and dischordinate relationship with my mother through my childhood and into adulthood. Much like the relationship my mother had with my grandmother.  As a result of my stressful experience having a lot of various responsiblities as a child;  lead me to make the decision to delay having children myself. I remember at 15 years old deciding I didn't want kids young and hadn't thought any farther at that age.

When I re-married at 41 and had our son at 42 I was delighted.  My son's first name is Frédéric and we gave him a Native American middle name of Bear, in our language.  The language lady at the local library helped me find the name (thanks Kym).  My mother calls him Fred-Bear.  The first years after his birth I continued a disconnected relationship with my mother.  Then I went back to the reservation the summer of 2009 with Fred.  He was three at the time.  First we stayed with my best friend from childhood on her farm in the country and than my mother asked if we would like to stay with her the rest of the summer.  This experience was good for all of us.  I think my mother had been lonely and we liked being back in the heart of the community.  Since I have had a much better relationship with my mother.  Also I am really grateful that she is so young and in good shape.  She is an active 65. I would even say we are starting to communicate better.