Returning to one’s ancestral homeland offers time for reflection, but also reminds us that even these sacred places are often threatened. Read more →
A Visit from Grandma
I woke up to the sound of my kitchen being destroyed, pots and pans falling to the ground, plastic dishes bouncing off the counters, cabinet doors slamming shut, and the sink water running on high. There was a strange but familiar smell, it was a mixture of musky perfume, sage, and beef soup. I knew for sure who it was in my kitchen, and it wasn’t a burglar, it was my Grandma. A couple of years ago, I gave her my extra house key so she could come over anytime she wanted, but days later while I was at work, she started a huge grease fire that nearly burnt my house down. I took my extra house key away from her, but at that time I didn’t know that she had made several copies of my house key. This is how she keeps getting into my house. No matter how many times I take the copy keys away, she will always have another one. I keep wanting to change my locks but I never really have the time to do it.
The ruckus in my kitchen stopped and it got really quiet. I tried listening to see what she was probably doing, then suddenly, she peeked into my room and turned on the light. She locked eyes with me and had an expression between surprised and nervous, like she knew she was in trouble. She walked into my room and opened my curtains. She was wearing a baggy, blue floral blouse that was tucked into her long, black skirt and she wore black slip-on sneakers. “Takoja, yahi ash šlowayesni. Uŋa wahaŋpi etaŋ yatkaŋ ye” [I didn’t know you were here. Come drink some soup].
I looked at the clock and it was 8 a.m. She must have snuck out of the nursing home early this morning and hitchhiked over, my grandma is just crazy. I asked, just to bother her, “Where’s Grandpa? Did he come with you or did you leave him at the nursing home again?” She snapped her eyes at me and said, “Lila, ȟ’aŋhi ĉha eĥpaya eblable” [He was too slow, so I left without him]. Then she went and left the room. “He uŋa wota ye!” [Come eat!], she yelled down the hallway.
I heard my cell phone ringing, and went to dig in my jacket pocket to get it. The Lakota Nursing Home was calling. I yelled, “GRANDMA! THE NURSING HOME IS CALLING!” I answered the phone, “Hello?” I put the phone on speaker so Grandma could hear.
“Good morning, can I speak to Viola?”
“Yes, this is Viola,” I said while Grandma was quietly coming back into the room.
“This is Susan, I am one of the head nurses here at the lakota Nursing Home and I am calling to inform you that your grandmother, lyla Goode, has disappeared from the nursing home. Your grandfather said he came back from his Morning Prayer services this morning around 7:45 a.m. and lyla was nowhere to be found and he wanted me to call you first.”
“Eez that Grandma!” I said while nodding at my grandma. “If she shows up I will give you a call.”
“Ok, thank you, Viola. Bye”
I ended the call and looked at my grandma. She said, “Takoja, lila waĉiŋyaŋka waĉiŋ. Lila wa u na lo li ĉiĥ’ aŋ waĉiŋ” [I really wanted to come see you and to come cook for you]. She sat down beside me and I hugged her tight. Then I asked, “Do you want to go back now?” She shook her head, “Hiya” [No].
I told her, “Grandma, you know I love you and Grandpa. We all talk on the phone almost every day and I will always come visit you two whenever I can.”
Then she said, “Lel wa uŋ kiŋ lo liĥ’aŋpi waŋiĉe” [But there’s no kitchen at where I stay].
I stood up and said, “let’s go eat.” As we were walking down the hallway, I said, “You know, Grandma, Grandpa probably misses you. He’s probably sitting in his bed staring at his old pictures of you and waiting for you to come back.” We both chuckled because that is exactly what he does when she’s gone.
When we got to the kitchen, there were dishes all over the ground and all the cabinets were open, but at least there was a big pot of hot soup waiting on the stove for us. I didn’t know how we were both going to eat that big pot of soup, it was enough to serve 15 to 20 people. I poured two bowls of soup and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I got unsalted crackers and sliced up half an onion for us. We sat down at the table together and ate in silence.
When I finished, I got up to put a tight lid on the pot of soup and said, “Grandma, let’s take the rest of this soup to Grandpa and all of your friends at the nursing home.” She smiled and nodded yes while still eating her soup.
After cleaning up the mess my grandma made in the kitchen that morning, I asked her, “Are you ready now?”
“Haŋ” [Yes], she said as she cleaned her area.
While Grandma was getting her stuff together, I went outside to start up the car and to load up the big pot of soup. I came back inside to help her get into the car and then I helped her put on her seatbelt. Once we were settled, I put on KIlI Radio for her to listen to. They were playing that old country music that she likes. I looked at my grandma and she looked so calm and happy. She leaned back into her seat, closed her eyes, and then began to sing along with the radio.