|Navajo Ceremonial Basket - Mary Holiday Black (#347)|
And, speaking of interesting people, I met one last Monday. That afternoon I was busily working in my office. Okay, I admit it; I was in there planning an after-Christmas getaway with Laurie and the kids. I was working on the entertainment component when I heard the door chimes ring. Priscilla was vacuuming upstairs, Danny was communing with his computer and Steve had gone to his rock house for a bologna sandwich, so I got up and went into the store to meet a forty-something woman and her twenty-something son. They were from Phoenix, and the woman was still exhilarated after jumping from an airplane over Moab. She and her son were "spending quality time together” before the young man married and moved away. I learned the woman had been born and raised in Sawmill, Arizona, had gone to school at Arizona State and was working as a journalist for the East Valley Tribune. She was dark skinned, had a pleasant face and an extremely outgoing personality. Her son was tall, lean and reserved. The two were traveling home after spending nearly two weeks together. Their skydiving adventure was just one of many they had experienced.
The woman explained that shortly after she jumped from the small plane, tightly strapped to an instructor, she had been "reborn". This somehow reminded her of giving birth to the young man. Before the boy or I knew what was happening, the dear lady began explaining the experience; in graphic detail. Please understand I am familiar with the birthing process. I was alongside Laurie for the birth of each of our three children, and found the experiences both amazing and beautiful. For some reason, however, hearing someone else's story made me queasy. I must have begun taking on a green cast, because the young man stepped in and said, "Mom, he does not want to hear this, nor do I." "Sure he does,” said the woman, he has kind eyes and a good heart, I can tell just by looking at him." Then she looked closer. I must have failed the second scan, because she paused. My look of shock and awe gave me away, because the lady stopped and said, "Oh my, maybe that is too much information." "Indeed," said the young man, taking his mother's arm and leading her from the building. As they left, I stood there shaking my head in frustration; I had failed the test. Rubbing my temples, I tried purging the images she had placed in my mind.
After her work was done Priscilla, wandered back downstairs and I told her about my uncomfortable conversation. She shrugged off my discomfort and told me such things were not a big deal to the Navajo. She said that in her mother's day women had their children in a Hogan and the entire family attended the labor and delivery. She said it was a great teaching tool for the children. Priscilla understands because she was born on the Rez, right-on the Utah/Arizona line. Recently, our dear friend and associate have spent many days on the telephone with federal, state and tribal offices attempting to rebuild her past. She needs to find her birth certificate. Master basket weaver Mary Holiday Black was also born under the wooden framework and mud interior of a Hogan, so we can only guess her age. Priscilla and Mary only scoff at my shy nature. "Anyway", Priscilla commented, "you say things you shouldn't."
To be fair, I know how wonderful giving birth can be, and how painful, disturbing and unpleasant too. Experiencing the beginnings of life, however, is truly amazing. That was the message this woman wanted to share. I am sorry I did not better receive her storytelling. She was opening her heart to me, and I failed to understand. Oh sure, she might have selected her words better, but she was still too jazzed from the jump. Later that day I was speaking with my daughter Alyssa, who recently turned 22. She is a wonderful child, and I remember the day she was born as clearly as if it were yesterday. In my mind's eye, I can see the event in its entirety. Out of respect for my wife and child, I will not share the intimate details. As mentioned, I retold the woman's story to Alyssa. My daughter is in the nursing program at BYU, and doing labor and delivery clinicals at the University of Utah Medical Center. She assured me the birthing process can be less than appealing, but the end result is altogether moving. Alyssa stressed that one day she too will have kids. "Not yet!" I quipped, "You are too young to be burdened with a man." I often tell my daughters 32 is a good age to marry, but they disagree. "Speak with your mother about spending too much time with a man"; I advise them, "She will tell you how disturbing that can be."
With Warm Regards,
Barry, Steve, Priscilla and Danny; the team.