Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Gram D.

My dad's mom would have been 87 today if she was still alive.

I posted the graphic of the American Indian woman above because she was 100% native American Indian. She was a Mohawk Iroquois, born on the Kahnawake Reservation, near the St. Lawrence Seaway in Canada. The day she was born -- November 24th -- was the first real snowfall of the year that year, which was probably pretty late for Canada! Her family named her "Kanietahawi" which means "brought the snow." Interestingly enough, I remember very clearly the day she died. It was on my birthday, and it snowed that day too. It seemed appropriate.

My Grandmother had certain key beliefs that she instilled in me. One very important belief was that all people are created equal. She did not discriminate based on looks or race or beliefs or where a person was from -- and for a person of her generation, that might be considered somewhat unusual. She also was a firm believer in women's rights. She also didn't think people should keep secrets about their health; she wanted people to share information, so that everyone would learn. It aggravated her to no end when people whispered about someone having cancer. "They called it the Big C -- they didn't even say the word. And they kept it all hush hush. But you need to learn about these things. Who knows, hon, maybe one day you or I will have the same problem, and we will know a little more about it than if it's constantly kept a secret!"

Another interesting thing about my Grandmother was that she donated her body to science after she died. We had a service, but her body was taken to a medical school for students to dissect. "They don't need my organs, they are too old and not very healthy," I can hear her say. "But maybe they can use me to learn something." It was more than a year before her body came back for us to bury. I was weird. But cool, too.

My Grandmother wasn't the most lovable old woman -- actually, she could be a bit ascerbic and outspoken. She didn't always say what you wanted to hear. But she was a great person. I also believe that at my age, she was having her share of problems and depression and stress. She was strong, though, and I loved her very much. So, Happy Birthday, Grandma.


pink dogwood said...

Your grandma sounds so cool - I would love to hear more about her. Her names sounds so cool too - "Kanietahawi"
Thanks for sharing.

Beth said...

Happy Birthday Grandma D.

GEM said...


She would have been a great woman in our time had she been your friend instead of your grandmother. An open minded, stong willed women with truth as her guide. May she rest in peace and may she always guide you. I will think of her when the snow comes.


Ps said...

A moving tribute to a wonderful lady.
She is remembered.