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The Tie to my Life
~ Corey Flood
As I write this my whole being feels renewed, a new beginning,
a new way. In my heart I feel a cleansing coming, one I
welcome. With the strength of the wind my mind and body
looks for the sacred and profane, a way of life that works. The
sage is in the breeze and the mysteries alive, the sage- a plant
given to us to free ourselves from any obstacle in our path,
sage- its use in ceremony that has endured for centuries, a
truly wonderful way to regain balance. I want my life to mirror
the prayers I seek, and the power to make it so.
Hanta Yo- Clear the way.
My mind becomes alive with images from my life that are beautiful and thoughts of them bring me joy, if my mind can find these special ways, my heart and action can bring these healing medicines to life. I hear the voices of my ancestors call to me, words to guide me on my way back to the innocence that we are all born with. A power calls to me “Come to me my son” “Come to me my son” with the strength to follow and belief that I am all you need to know, “I am here my son” with the power to bring you to your feet and accept all that meant for you, “My son I am waiting…… The tug of war inside you is wasted energy, “Come to me my son,” I will lead you to healing. You are a strong, loving man, come forth to all that is waiting for you. Clear the way “my son” Corey.
My grandfather “Tunkasila” whispers “Awake my son,” awake to a new day I created just for you. In your life my son, I place obstacles in your path. Obstacles that you decide whether to face and conquer, or to accept the negative energy that allows you to continue to live in fear and doubt. Be brave my son and accept the wonderful gifts I create for you. Accept and conquer. I will never leave you.
I sit under a twisted tree and with the tree comes soothing shade, this tie to my life which many, many, grandchildren, children of our Tiospaye, extended family, had played under as children, including my daughter Cari, I hear and listen to the past laughter and joy, my mind fills with these memories, one upon one. This place, this tree from my memories, a place for many of us that holds a very beautiful magic, a magic of honesty, of laughter and smiles, a way of life all children are born with, a way of life we as adults should relearn. A life that holds genuine love, a child's life of innocence, of trust, of laughter and smiles, and the ability to forgive and love fearlessly. A child's life, a life I now seek, and a yearning begins in me to return to these wonderful gifts from my past, a past very much alive, and my past- my new beginning.
Awake my son!!
I find myself in my most loving memory. A memory that has burned the brightest throughout my life, my heart and mind rejoice as these special gifts come back to me, my life up until now empty of these special gifts, my life has missed this place of wonder that my memories bring back to life, these memories full of mystery, full of love, much, much love, a place I now see. My grandfather and grandmother's old cabin is in front of me. The beauty of this single story, one bedroom cabin with my grandmother’s wood cook stove and the wood stacked neatly beside it taking center stage, an old dipper hangs on the wall- beneath it the clear fresh water we haul home, morning- noon- and night. There are pictures of my warrior relatives in their regalia, and uncles and my father in their military uniforms and medals, eagle feathers and a stuffed red tail hawk with wings and tail spread wide as in flight, and a beautiful elk hide pipe bag- the pipe bag, a wonderful picture of grandpas power, and behind my grandmother Adas bed hangs the various herbs and medicines she uses to heal the many who come to this beautiful ancient cabin of love. The door is always open, night or day, and if all they had to offer visitors was a cup of coffee, they gave in happiness. The scent of the mixture of grandmother's herbs and medicines hang in the air for me to remember as I relive these moments, this cabin full of old ways- all the items on the walls feels like power, love, and respect for one another. This magical place from my youth- made of wood and earth, but built with love and respect for one another that binds this place like cement. My mind is alive with all these memories, my mind brings to me these magical events that I have held on to all my life, my mind and soul remembers, when facing sadness and hurt these wonderful medicines come back to soothe me. I thank you Tunkasila for gifting me so. My neighbors burn wood in their fireplace, the familiar aroma awakens me daily, and my memories always carries me to this cabin, what my neighbors fire lacks is the love and scent of grandma Adas sweet grass, cedar, and sage she so lovingly adds. This cabin free from electricity, indoor heat and plumbing, nothing modern except for a battery powered radio sitting on the kitchen table, a dwelling of ancient ways, Lakota language, Lakota humor, and Lakota love for me. “I remember my grandfather” “I remember my grandmothers stove bringing heat, warmth, aromas and delicious food. I remember…
My thoughts take me to a time when my life was without direction. I’ve had many teachers in my life. I have been blessed to have had many elders, so many loving relatives that paved the way for me to the good red road and the way back to the genuine Corey, the little Corey- the innocent child who still pushes his way to the front. In all ways I protect this part of me. I remember sitting under my grandparent’s twisted tree, the tie to my life, the tree- a symbol of peace and tranquility for many of us. I felt the need to speak to someone, but didn’t have a clue as to whom, suddenly my grandfather appeared. I knew something powerful was coming because in his hand was his elk hide pipe bag. I studied his profile, his still handsome face, his waist length hair unbound and loose, the goodness and peaceful ways coming off him like rays from the sun. I had seen my grandfather’s pipe bag before but never his pipe. I watched this most important elder of mine, my heart was pounding with love, pride, respect and thankfulness that my grandfather chose this day for me, to share himself with, and tell me all my heart wanted to know, my whole being came alive. My grandfather removed the leather thong that tied his beautiful pipe bag together, the elk hide pipe bag that I first saw as a child, a medicine wheel attached in the middle of the stem with our colors, red, yellow, black and white, the bag was heavily quilled, and long leather fringe and two spotted eagle feathers hung and swayed in the breeze as if in flight, the feathers becoming almost alive from his motions, this supreme example of strength and manhood filled me to the core with immense pride. I watched him remove the stem and bowl and felt I was in a dream, and could only imagine what a moment like this could be, in all ways my heart, thoughts or words could never create all I was witnessing. The beautiful pipe stem appeared, this pipe stem engraved with my grandfather’s power, twelve spotted eagle feathers hung along the stem, and a braid of horse hair from one of his horses from his youth, my grandfather brought the bowl out, the bowl hand carved by him at the sacred quarry from Pipestone, a sacred place where all tribes, enemies or not, existed in peace to dig the wonderful red stone. The pipe bowl was shaped like the herd father of our relative- Tatanka Oyate- Buffalo Nation. My grandfather joined the bowl with stem in a ceremonial way and he brought out his sage, sweet grass, cedar and tobacco, as he lit the sage that purified the air, and hummed an ancient pipe song, my grandfather said “My son” this pipe when separate are two objects with little power, when joined like man and woman, the two together produce life, beauty, and a way of life that has survived since the beginning of time, a way of life “my son” I now share with you. This warrior relative of mine looked at me, his dark, dark- almost black eyes- looked into mine, I felt his power, and the way I loved and viewed this man paled in comparison to what I now saw in front of me, and for a flash of an instant I saw him as if in a dream, a young coming to age warrior mounted on a spotted war horse, his loose hair hanging to his waist, his hair blowing back in the wind, I hear the roar of an eagle bone whistle that is deafening, the whistle bringing me back to reality, a place I did not want to return to, the place I envied- my grandfather’s time, came with the joining of the pipe and stem, this beautiful place my heart and thoughts have never forgotten. I felt wonder and awe that I will never feel again, and explaining this in words- words cannot describe all the beauty I felt. I cannot share with you what his words said to me, those loving words made for only him and I. I can share with you that the words we shared have paved for me a blueprint that I follow today. Wopila my grandfather.
When searching for answers a messenger arrives. It could be a word, a song, person, event, when your heart is open the message will come. This thing I know to be true. I decide to walk my grandparents' land. The land of the mighty Sicangu Lakota Oyate. Some of the lands that remain theirs are lands my Lakota relatives and the mighty Cheyenne fought and died for- and won against all odds by defeating the US cavalry who could resupply, and did not have anything but death and theft in their hearts, unlike the warriors of the Lakota who always had to fight a defensive war shielding the women and children, elderly and huge pony herds. I look at the land and beautiful scenery, wild turnips and herbs everywhere you look, sage dots the hills creating a fragrance never replicated by man with his many colognes or perfumes, and an abundance of wildlife, especially deer, horses, and the cute barks of the numerous prairie dogs from their little houses here and there, everything in place just like it was meant, but Tatanka Oyate- Buffalo Nation is no longer numerous like the blades of grass, slaughtered without conscience because killing off the food supply was the only sure way of defeating my relatives- the honorable and strong Sicangu Oyate. I watched a small herd of horses appear, and with them their young. I watch birds in flight and their young experimenting with their wings, and my friend- Wambli- soaring high in the sky protecting this wonderful, peaceful place- hidden from anything modern or manmade. I watch the mighty Wambli circle me and feel the immense beauty of the land and also the knowledge that my people, with their camp, horse herds, warriors, women and children, and the grandpas and grandmas, all together fought a defensive war that ensured they kept these lands just like Tunkasila created them-free and wild. I can hear the laughter, giggles and the good will towards all from the Sicangu Lakota that still hold this magic place. My heart pounds like a drum with pure joy, pride, and respect from who and where I come, and the blood that runs in my veins.
“Awake my son”
I remember the day my little girl was born. I always wanted a son but as the nurses handed her to me, this little girl I named Cari, the only child I will ever have, I looked into her dark, dark eyes, an image of my grandfather came to me, I saw and felt the mysteries of life. This little one quiet, eyes that light up with love and trust, eyes that bring to me all I’ve waited for. I remember those days, the day I became mother and father to this gift I held so tight. My little girl had a cast placed on her foot the second she was born- she was born with a clubbed foot. My little girl full of strength, her eyes and lips full of smiles, my little one filled my heart and gave me the purpose, and the direction I so desperately needed. I remember waking up in the middle of the night. Cari and I would watch the deer, raccoons, and various little animals who played here and there. My little bundle of joy, held securely in my arms drank her bottle, and watched all the little families together. I looked down at my daughter, who had such a wonderful smile on her face that held such joy, joy that had me wishing time could stand still in the wee hours of the morning when things feel magical. “I remember my grandfather”, “I remember.”
When the time came for my daughter to be delivered, I told the Dr. and nurses I did not want them to spank her like they do so often to babies to bring them to life, I told them to rub her little feet with loving hands so she would not be brought into life in violence. I remember never, ever spanking my daughter. I would sit her down and take her little hands in mine and speak to her gently, Cari would stare at me with her dark eyes, her eyes filled with mischief, and I could do nothing more than say- “come to me my girl,” and give her the hug of a lifetime. I remember once- I made her sit in the corner in her little rocker, and she turned around, her waist length braids were beautiful and shiny, she looked at me with those eyes of my grandfathers- and her personality all rolled into one. “I remember my grandfather” “I remember.”
I remember the doctor explaining to me why Caris's foot had to be placed in a cast to straighten out the tendons in her foot and calf. I would have to soak her cast off every Friday, and take her to the hospital to have a new one replaced. I still have her first cast. I took the tiny cast and wrapped it in medical tape- her tiny little cast full of family signatures. The day came when my little warrior was scheduled to have an operation at the Shriners Hospital in Minnesota. The surgery was to strengthen the tendons and further straighten her foot, the Drs used part of her calf to reform her little foot. On the way to Minnesota, I sat in the back seat with her explaining to her all that she would endure- at two years old, my little girl held one of my fingers in her hand and listened. The morning arrived and I soaked her cast off for the last time, the last one she would ever wear, I walked to the nurse and handed Cari to her, Cari looked at me with those eyes and never made a sound. The silent tears on her cheeks will be with me always. It crippled me that I could not take the pain for her. The surgery was a success, a pin was inserted through her ankle and a corrective shoe would now take the place of the cast. Cari would wear the cast until she was 5 years old. I remember when she was old enough to attempt her first steps with the shoe on that was supposed to prevent her from walking on it- she walked. Pride filled my heart watching this act of supreme bravery- her giggles and smile filled the room as I watched her take her first step, my little girl, my salvation, teaching me how to live life- happy- without worry- laughing, loving, trusting. “My grandfather I remember.”
“Awake my son, " Awake to the day I made just for you. I remember my grandfather telling me “my son” when you travel across the country always take a pinch of dust from the land you stand upon, this pinch of dust will always bring you back to us. I wore a medicine bag around my neck for many years, and this loving part of my life has brought me home time after time. My mind is a whirlwind “Taku Skan Skan” the circling, spiritual power that is always in motion fills my being. I have had teachers in my life, many, many of these special holy, spiritual, powerful men and women, incredible as it all is they all had the same message, a message that is truly wonderful and sacred. I used to have a very negative view of people who claim to be Catholic, and yet live a satanic way. Their words weak and pathetic, lacking in power and sincerity. Their actions mocking their so called god, a proven god to all Native people of violence and sadistic, and demented ways, almost total genocide came with its god, a god thats agenda was to terminate and destroy each Native American tribal group its doctrine touched, a god so heartless that they did the unimaginable, they took the little children from their parents and placed them in catholic boarding schools to erase and kill the Native identity within, they did this to thousands and thousands of our young and innocent relatives, including my Lakota relations and many, many thousands more. They are just now in in 2021-2022 uncovering the many thousands of bodies of murdered and molested bodies of these children I speak of. I remember my father sharing with me his pipe during an eclipse of the sun. I was thoroughly honored that day. My father explained to me the answer to my chaos from so called Catholics. As my father joined pipe stem to bowl, the beautiful red stone bowl carved by him, the stem filled with my father's colors, his power. He told me as he brought to life the wonderful fragrant aroma from the tobacco. He said “my son” why worry about others when all you truly need is in front of you. I had this overwhelming, close to complete hate and disgust concerning people who claim all their acts are done in the name of their so-called god. An excuse to make right all the violence and sickness created by them, a sentence to throw out there and excuse their demented way. My father and grandfather taught me that in no way shape or form does this mentality I spoke of exist in our thoughts, life and especially our pursuit of the sacred and profane. My father's words changed what remained inside of me that hated, despised, and struggled to understand these evil people and ways. My father accomplished this simply and all he said filled my heart. He accomplished this with kind and loving words. “My son” breathe deeply of this pipe you and I share, release and accept- we are still here, release each thing that is holding you down, release and accept. I hear you my father, my loving father no longer with me like so very many, but his words always be. The pipe a way of life, the pipe- the truth- the pipe a way of life that works.
Oyate nimkte wacin yelo,
May the people live spirituality.
“Awake my son, awake,” awake to the peace and love made just for you. Listen to the wind my son, I am here for you- waiting…
I find myself walking down an old road- the wear from the many horses, then wagons, and then cars creating a sacred mixture of change in life. I see a tree full of turkey buzzards, the buzzards representing death and darkness to me. I allow myself to sit in these feelings, feeling them totally, my eyes catch motion in the sky high above the buzzards, and I see the one who flies higher than any other- I see my friend Wambli- Eagle. I hear the scream from an eagle bone whisper, the blast is deafening- Hanta Yo, Clear the way. The mighty eagle, sacred- the only true messenger for me, the eagle who chooses one mate and one mate only to share his life with- the eagle more powerful than darkness and death- the eagle, my grandfather showing me once again the one true way. My heart and mind are open, I hear messages meant only for me. Live in truth, slow to anger, free the Corey that is waiting to come forth, love the innocent- embrace each and everything I create for you- in these things you will finally feel the power leading you to the front- the power that will allow you to walk freely, value the qualities that make you who you are- respect the goodness I created in you…. Awake.
I find myself on top of Mato Paha- Bear Butte, the center of the earth for me, a center of power. A power I've felt, a power that came freely, and it came with the power of the sun. I remember one one of the many trips to this sacred place and being the only one on the huge mountain, and a faint voice came to me and as I climbed this voice became stronger and stronger- the song was one that was gentle and full of love, as I rounded the bend I saw sitting on a rock a woman alone and she sat singing. I had come to expect magical and wonderful events from this place, almost as if the mountain could read my mind and gave to me what I sought. As I neared her, I saw her look up at me and not hesitating in her song she handed to me a braid of sweet grass and a spotted eagle tail feather. I continued on my way and looked back at the woman singing and before I rounded the bend, I noticed that there was no one there, but in my hand was the braid and eagle feather. Another truly wonderful gift from Tunkasila. In all ways a very beautiful moment. I sit on top the mountain and free my father's pipe from his pipe bag and fill the bowl- I remember one of my father's prayers and I draw deeply of the smoke and remember.
May my eyes see straight
May my words always be true
May my ears fill with your wisdom
May my walk be straight with no bends
May my heart bring forth love
May my life mirror the prayers I send to you my Grandfather
May each and everything I seek bring forth freedom.
Touch my son Corey and bring him forth
I am a humble man Tunkasila
I ask you this from my heart.
As I repeat this prayer, I remember all the beautiful words my father shared with me, always letting me know how much he loved me, he gave me the most important gift- his time and his patience. I look at his pipe I now hold in my hand and realize how much this man who gave me life, all he truly, truly gave me and how very much he meant to me. I remember so very much about this man I loved deeply. I see his face in front of me, I hear his laughter, I remember his gentle ways and his immense strength. The thing that touched me the most about Dad was when he lost his parents, his elders, my mother Peggy, each and every brother and sister he had and any remaining relative on this earth- he had such immense strength and its as if his gentle ways and love intensified. In each case with me I will never be the man my father was, but as I look at his pipe I realize I have no one else left in my life also. My life is empty of these relatives of mine but the ones who meant the most are very much alive in my mind, heart and memories, and for that I thank you my grandfather for making it so. My father Collins- I hear and feel you.
I open my eyes and see myself in a tiny cave, the cave- the walls blackened by fire. I look above me and see the many tobacco ties. I see beautiful offerings hanging here and there, and I feel a calmness fills me. The cave big enough for two people to sit side by side dangling their feet from the entrance comfortably. The view looking down is beautiful and breathtaking I remember coming to Bear Butte and seeing the cave many, many times. The climb- a truly sacred climb, each step bringing more and more of the setting into place. I remember seeing the cave for the very first time. The cave became a center piece for me. I wanted to enter this cave each time I came to the holy mountain. I would look at it as I climbed higher and higher, my heart would pound- bang, bang, bang, resembling the drum, each beat giving me the strength to climb. I would see the cave become all I truly wanted inside and as I neared- fear would fill me and overwhelm me. I would hesitate and back away from my one true want, the fear I felt would change my direction and I would imagine a mountain lived there and the fear would cause me to move away in defeat and lose the power that awaited me there. The morning came again as I again climbed to my biggest challenge. I was looking at the cave and begin to inch closer to the entrance, and what I saw and felt gave me the answer, the answer my creator gave me- bravery to defeat my fear and not see a mountain lion, but peace, beauty, and a truly sacred site where many, many, famous, brave, great in war and holy warriors who sought their answers there. My steps felt like I was walking on the clouds in honor of all the ones who came before me. I thank you Tunkasila- Grandfather- Creator, I thank you dad and grandfather for the bravery and gifts you both gave me, the gift to defeat my fear and not see a mountain lion, but peace, beauty, and a truly sacred walk and quest, the cave was a wonderful setting and gift, I have been blessed from so very many of these magical moments. The cave gave me all I hoped that it would, in this I am truly thankful.
Awake my son, Awake.
I stir, coming fully awake to the new day. I stretched and thought about the gifts of yesterday, as I reflected on all I was given I heard a whistle, the wonderful sound coming closer and closer, the intensity becoming louder and louder, at once a fierce, almost violent blast, Kree Kree Kree- with the whistle came the message “I am with you, awake, stand and accept” Awake my son. I remember the old ones sharing with me stories of honoring women. A woman brought to the Lakota Oyate all our ceremonies, and most importantly- the sacred calf pipe, the pipe handed down throughout time to the same blood line of holy men. This pipe very much alive today speaks of the immense spiritual power of the Oyate. Woman- one who has the power to bring forth life. Woman- a true power to respect. I remember my Uncle once sharing with me the story of the courting flute, and the song of love played bringing power to the man using it, the flute music endearing to the woman who fills his heart, the song meant for the one who he chooses as wife. I am a pure romantic at heart. I recognize not the physical beauty of a woman but the spiritual power she possesses. I remember a time when I was walking around a city lake. I came around a corner that had many trees and beautiful scenery, various flowers with their intoxicating aromas filling the air, and birds darkening the sky, I spy my friend Wambli soaring high above them all. As I entered this place of beauty, I heard singing from a very soothing voice. I could see the back of the singer's head as I neared, her hair jet black and braided in one long braid reaching to her waist. I listened to her voice with eyes closed and it captured not only attention but also my heart, as I neared, she moved her head so I could not catch her profile or any of her facial features. The soft, emotion filled song caused me to stand in silence, but a crowd of people came from behind me and I moved on, feeling blessed by an event that was sacred. The voice stayed with me all day throughout the night. I thought about this voice and what it would sound like in a conversation, and her pitch-black hair was a fitting crown for this wonderful person. The job I had at the time was long hours and a lot of overtime. Sunday came around and I had the day off, as I neared the lake again, I did not look in the direction I saw her in the weekend before. I wanted with all my heart for her to be there again. I slowed my walk as I neared the corner she was in, and I rounded the bend and there she was. This time there was no song , as I neared her, I could smell the aroma of sweet grass. I knew this would be an event that held power. I look for things in events, people and situations, this was one of those moments, and when a voice has all these things, I become very alert. The song that brought these things to life, the sweet grass in the air- a sacred plant made to cleanse and purify, and to bring the spirits- I was in the moment fully. As I neared her, all I saw caught me heart- her jet-black long hair was unbraided. I neared her and again felt fear, exactly the same kind of fear I had facing the cave at Bear Butte. I entered her view from the front because I did not want to cause her alarm. I was within 20 yards from her when she saw me, at that instant the sun escaping a cloud shined fully on her face and her facial expression was as beautiful as her song. I found myself stepping closer, this woman- her song- her voice, her stunning face, her jet-black hair stirring in the breeze, and the aroma of the sweet grass, all had me speechless. Time stood still. I found myself walking straight to her without doubt. This stunning woman, in all ways a sacred person, stood up and when I was within 6 feet of her, she lifted her arms, the wind came up strong- her hair blown straight back- the sweet grass in the air, she raised her arms to embrace me, as I walked into her arms, we were a perfect fit. As she and I embraced I heard her whisper “Micante- my heart, against my neck- I knew you were coming, we stood there, her and I the only two alive in the world, she whispered again, “Micante”my heart- my heart. Everywhere we went if her hand didn’t find mine, mine would hers. This woman from my dreams always, always had her arm around me or was touching me in some way. I never had these types of oneness with anyone in my life, and to know she wanted me with the same intensity I needed her made life the way it was meant to be. She whispered agaisnt my neck and told me “I knew you were coming” I knew you would finally come to me, again she whispered “Micante” “Micante” my heart, my heart. I believe in the mysteries and with her I had the gifts of years of this wonderful, deep, intense love, and I fell more in love with her every second of the day. I will never forget her or my love for her, and like the eagle who mates with the same mate the rest of his life, my heart and arms wait for her. I remember waking up one morning her hair spread over me like a security blanket- her beautiful face, long lashes, and her lips always, always in a smile, and whispered words to me always of a deeper meaning to live for. The morning came and I knew she would never awake, even with the excruciating pain, the body shaking sobbing tears, life changing hurt, my arms ached from the way I held her against me. I could not let her go, I would not. I again heard the blast from the eagle bone whistle, and in it I heard “Micante” I will always be with you, I will always be here by your side. My love when we meet again it will again be by the water., I will always, always be her waiting for you…… We talked in length about the afterlife. I knew at those times to ready myself and know what types of plans to make for her. She is the only woman to have ever stirred me to the extreme- the true meaning of love was given to me by this woman from the spirit who knew me in every way possible. My woman, my life, my dreams, my heart….. She is still with me after 10 years. I used to haunt every body of water, in every city and town I found myself in just to hope against hope, she would appear. At these times I would hear a whisper softly in my ear- soon Corey- soon, and I would catch the scent of sweet grass. The way we found each other I had no more will in me to enter any more relationships, I was void of hope in sharing my life with anything more than my dreams, and then she came to me. I know there are things I need to complete in me, and I know that the day will come when she is back in my arms and life, either here or in the afterlife, but the day will come. Her promise to me shields the loneliness and the pain because on that day we will never separate again, this I know to be true. In my life I have never doubted the afterlife or the powers Taku Skan Skan- the revolving spiritual power. I have been so very gifted in this life to know that the power walks beside me. In each thing I do there is a learning, at times it feels like I'm being groomed and prepared for something powerful and wonderful that will define me and my walk. In all these gifts my grandfather I am humbled and grateful. Like my love, I cannot touch her physically but when I miss her terribly and want the wait to be over, I hear her voice and feel her embrace from behind. I hear her whisper my name and I know; I know when my cycle of learning is complete, she will be there. I will share one last moment. My woman, my wife, my equal, my whole feeling of life passed with the smile on her face that morning. It was both of our wishes to be placed on burial scaffolds far, far away from anything modern or prying eyes, far away from anything else but the rest to end when we will continue our walk. I placed her in a beautiful star quilt that my grandmother gave me, I remember brushing her hair and almost seeing a smile appear. The scaffold I built was in a wonderful tree that I used to play on as a child. The tree on my family's land way back in the hills. I remember standing there sharing my thoughts with her and once again I heard the eagle bone whistle- the blast was deafening- I miss her as I sit in the dim light writing, as I write this, I will allow one last tear from the loss I feel, and the emptiness of my hand. This next chapter of my life will never be lonely again. My love, my perfect love, thank you for blessing me in every way possible. I feel you in the wind. I remember grandfather, I will always remember- you…….
Awake my son, AWAKE!!!
The passing of loved ones come with age. I sit back on the hill of 60 human years and wonder how I finally made it to this level when if wiser would have had all this thankfulness as a much younger man, it matters not I am here and in the spirit. I look back on the memories I've had, and the adventures that few have had, and the absolute gifts I have received in all areas of my life, and it makes me feel honored to have had so very many deep, deep, personal relationships, and so very many teachers that continue to pop up as the minutes tick by. I know a lot of it has to be because of my elders, especially my grandfather and my father that passed so many, many victories in life they each had because of their deep connection to Tunkasila and a never-ending trust in him. These two things that drove my two most loved male teachers were given freely, and all it took was to follow only what their hearts and true desires wanted. When I think of people struggling with the concept of a creator- it never surprises me when these same ones drop to their knees when facing personal tragedy and heartache. The concept of belief has never for an instance been an issue for me, all I have to do is look in the mirror, see through my eyes, hear through my ears, taste with my tongue, and breath the air that drives all life. I remember I went on a hunting trip once and was in an isolated place far from everyone. For me the hunt is more about being able to sneak up on my deer relatives and if wanting meat would have surely have accomplished that task. I like creating weapons with my hands but feel no need to kill for my food, but something truly amazing happened to me once. I had my Dads bow and wanted to take it out and practice, and feel what he did when he hunted with it. I am a quiet person by nature and the skill of sneaking up on one of our wild relatives takes skill, I cannot begin to tell you how many beaver, deer, coyotes, badgers and once a young bear, as I walked deeper into the forest, I spied an old dead tree. I constantly have my eyes in the sky when I am in the forest, the winged relatives of ours will warn us if danger approaches. I saw this tree in the distance and it drew me to it. I was within 20 yards fro it when movement caught my eyes. I stopped immediately and slowly looked up and down the tree until I found what it was that drew me there. I noticed a huge golden eagle feeding its young. I saw how tender it was to its young and the roomy nest it built for its family. All of a sudden it must have sensed me, it spread its huge wings straight out, each feather standing out. I could see its talons gripping the edge of the nest as it faced me. I love and respect the Wambli Oyate- Eagle Nation, more than any of our numerous relatives that make up our existence, and the eagle saluted me with its beautiful song. I could see the little heads of the baby eagles' peek over the nest to see who their mother was giving her attention too. The eagle did not try to fly away or attack which they do, especially in defense of their young. Knowing this eagle sensed zero danger from me honored and touched me for allowing me the opportunity to view her and her little ones. Another gift from my grandfather Tunkasila for living my life fully. In every way my mind replays all the beautiful memories that have made up my life.-memories that I get lost in. I took one whole day for myself at a lake reliving as much as my mind and memories would give me and as I sat into the night these special times were still coming to me. I remember my father Collins Richard Flood, and each and everything he shared with me. I have many talents, leather work, I've read libraries of books because of him, I love to read and write with great joy, and especially making regalia and feather work. My father was a spiritual man, not a so-called medicine man like so many claim, but he shared everything he knew and felt inside concerning life lessons and true spirituality. I was blessed to have been extremely close to him, taking care of him the last two years of his life, and he taught me the love a man brings to his eldest son's life. To know my father shared so much with me, only me, makes me appreciate the understanding and patience he had with me all my life. I see now how he prepared me for all that is in front of me today. My father, the tall, black-haired man, physically powerful man, who turned every eye when entering a room, called for me to come see him after work, him and I were the only two Floods left in South Dakota. My father lived in an apartment complex next to mine. I was only one building away from him. My father, the only Flood elder I had left in my life, his little brother and sister, the only family he had left in this life passed within months of each other- leaving him alone- the warrior image alone. I still feel a deep loneliness for him as I write about him. My father lived alone with his little Kola Sammy_ he was my mother's little doggie but when she passed my dad made him his. They were inseparable. These two were very much alike, and the bond between them was wonderful. I remember when my dad took one of his numerous trips, he always called me to see if I would watch Sammy for him. I missed a lot of family functions because of this but it in itself was a gift of knowing him, and because of this I grew to love my dad's little Kola Sammy. I remember a bright sunny day my dad called for me to come see him. I knocked on the door and heard “come in my son,” he always knew my knock. I entered his apartment and he said like he always did, there's coffee and soup on the stove. I miss those wonderful moments with him. Knowing him and I had so many, its those very things that gets me through my loneliness- I remember so many soothing words he said to me. I ate some of his soup, and took my coffee into the living room and sat in the rocker next to him. “Corey my son” those words always, always brought tears to my eyes., he said “Life is never ending” Taku Skan Skan- life is a revolving spiritual experience. I thought I was prepared for this talk, I was not. He began speaking of the day my mother passed, and all the grief and sadness- that added to the weight that he carried, losing his whole family, mother, father, brothers and sisters, and every elder he ever knew- all gone. My mother's death added to the immense sadness that overwhelmed him at times. My dad was filled to the brim with loving words and actions towards others, especially when you truly needed someone. Dad was the one to call you or come see you when you were hurting. I remember the feeling of safety I always had when in his presence, even as a grown man being around him brought me peace. My Dad was the only true warrior I had in my life left. My dad mase sure I knew every elder I was related to and also the many who came to my grandparents to have coffee and talk. I learned about each one through his stories, later on in life and I had a column in a tribal paper and wrote about each one, now my daughter and grandchildren have each of these stories. My father's story is about love, respect, honor, pride and also an enduring love for his family, and the understanding and willingness to to help you strengthen yourself as you work through your grief, hurt, loss and pain. My dad was my medicine man in many ways. There are many who claim to be a sacred man but the ones who use more than words are the ones I look to with respect and guidance. My father was full blooded Sicangu Lakota, fluent in his own language, but was also an expert at the English language and the way white people thought and conducted themselves. In this it made him very dangerous in their eyes. He asked me how the coffee was, I told him like always- terrible. My dad couldn’t make coffee if you paid him, sorry Dad. He began speaking- Corey my first born, I am proud of the man you are, I have always been, your setbacks in life do not nor have they ever defined you. The fight inside you to become more than your backwards steps- do. The obstacles you face in life are self-imposed. You will know my son, you are your worst trial and worse critic. I am 59 years old as I write this and after all this time, everything he shared with me I know to be true. My dad like most of his family died from cancer. I remember when he called me when I was in New Orleans, he asked me to come back home and asked me if I would come home and care for him, he needed me. I remember becoming his care giver- a role he was not comfortable with. He asked me- me of everyone he knew. I was deeply honored beyond words. I remember grandfather, I remember. That night after our father and son talk “go home my son” tomorrows another day, he wanted to take a shower and read before bed, something inside haunted me to sleep on his couch, I wish now I would have heeded these messages. My father never wasted words- meanings behind everything he said, I am much the same, so I kissed him on his forehead and said goodnight.
I woke to the blast of the eagle bone whistle, Kree, Kree, Kree,. I remember grandfather, I remember this new day that would change my life. I called him the next morning to see how he slept, but there was no answer. My dad was an extensive reader. I could see him lying in bed with Sammy beside him reading a paper or something from the pile from my old columns he kept by his night stand. The biggest he complimented me with was he really liked my writing, I, in turn wrote down each thing he wanted me to pass down, and in this way I keep him with us. I went to work and completed my work by noon. I went straight to his apartment. I knocked and knocked but could only hear Sammy barking out of control. Sammy seldom barked. I knew this was a warning, and I will never forget the sound, Sammy almost crying and I will never forget that sound- ever. I entered my father's apartment but neither him or Sam was in his living room. I went to his bedroom door and knocked, but there was no answer. Sammy started wailing again, so I entered. Sammy was tied by his leash to the dresser, and I knew my father would never leave him this way, so I walked over to my dad's side of the bed and noticed that his bed hadn't been slept in. I went around to the other side of the bed and Sam stopped wailing, and I looked down and saw my father trapped between the dresser and the bed frame. I gently placed my hand on his chest and called his name, my father opened his eyes and had such a peaceful look on his face, he was a vision of pure, serene, peace. My dad asked me to help him sit up. I told him that I shouldn’t because it may bring more hurt and pain, he asked me because he didn’t want anyone to see him this way. I gently took his hand in mine and slowly tried to bring him to a sitting position, and I could tell by his eyes and the grimace on his face that I had to lay him back down. I called the ambulance. The ambulance arrived and with it came the racket of sirens and loud voices. Sammy, thinking someone was going to hurt his master began growling and barking loudly, all the noise almost made me insane with the turmoil. I was kneeling beside my dad and pushed his king size bed across the room with one hand. I was a former bodybuilder/ powerlifter and at that moment with all the trophies and contests I won, my real payoff and victory was to get that bed away from my dad. They took Dad and I to the hospital in Winner SD. I worked at the hospital and the nurses bent over backwards to make my dad as comfortable as possible. On the way to the hospital my dad joked with me like he always did. The whole time he held my hand and told me what a good son I had always been to him and my mother. My heart hurt for him. The Dr came and talked to me and told me they would have to tske my dad to Sioux Falls because the hospital in Winner wasn't equipped to handle my dad's situation., and Sioux Falls had the specialists he needed. My dad refused chemo and was at the crossroads of his time on this earth. I went over to my dad and told him the news and all he said was “My son, take care of my Kola Sam” he also told me to take Sam down to Dairy Queen and get him a plain hamburger- he loves them, and get yourself something to eat my son- I’ll be okay. I helped load my father into the ambulance trying not to lose myself in the tears. I knew this was the last time I would see my dad as I knew him. He had such a smile on his face as they drove away. My dad's last remaining brother and sister passed away a few months before and he told me they would come to him at night in his sleep. I knew to ready myself against everything inside of me. My heart was happy for him and I knew he looked forward to the ending of the struggle he had in this life time, and I realized I would never be the same without him. My dad and I had a defining moment before the ambulance drove off. He asked the ambulance personnel for privacy. Dad told me he wanted me to have all his regalia, feathers, and important papers, and especially his books. Dad brought me books home all my life, books before toys. I knew no other joy then wondering what he would bring me home to read next. He asked me to do something important for him. Something as his son I was obligated to do. He asked me to have Sammy cremated and place him in his coffin with him so they could continue the next phase together. Sammy was an old doggie and full of aches and pains, sometimes not being able to walk across the room because of the pain. I squeezed his hand looking into his joyful eyes. My dad would drift in and out of sleep and would not open his eyes. I called my Dad when they got to Sioux Falls and he asked me “Hello my son, hows Sammy? I was the last one on this earth to speak to my dad. My brothers and sisters were doing their usual childish behaviors- arguing- and showing how selfish they were by doing this in my dad's room. I could not get to the hospital until I took Sammy to the vet, which none of my so-called siblings knew anything about. The thing I cherished about my Dad was his and I conversations were always private; it was always like that between us. I remember all the trips him and I took together, just him and I alone all my life. It was the way it was supposed to be. I remember explaining to Sam what was to come. My dad wanted me to have his car when he was gone, and it was the only car Sammy knew. On the ride to the vet Sam sat on the counsel between the seats like he always did when Dad and him traveled, and Sammy stared at me the whole 30-mile trip not once looking away. I told him dad was waiting for him and we had to do this one little thing before he could see him again, maybe go get a hamburger together. I told him in a few minutes they would be back together again. Remember this about Sammy, Sammy was a one-person dog, no one would be able to take my dad's place in his life, and Sam was old and in pain- he understood exactly what I was saying. We entered the vet's office and Sam ran straight to the nurse, and not once looking back at me. The door closed and Sam was gone from my life also. The next time I saw Sam he was in a little black bottle and all that remained was his ashes. I felt the immense loneliness my life now was full of. I had no elders left in my life, each one gone, one by one. I was now the eldest Flood and now considered the elder. My dad and his little Kola entered the next phase together. My father had a very beautiful funeral. I was part ceremonial and part military. I did not realize how real this was until they handed me my father's eagle feathers and the empty shells from the salute they fired for him. The most wonderful sight I have ever witnessed was when driving home there were two eagles sitting together on a tree limb. I knew it was Sam and my wonderful dad Collins Richard Flood, showing me things were alright. I remember my grandfather…. I remember.
Awake my son, Awake!!!!! the eagle bone blast deafening me. KREEEEEEE,KREEEEEE, KREEEE. I hear you my grandfather, my heart rejoices in this wonderful moment. I have shared with you all I am willing to share, bits and pieces of my life. My life has been a most wonderful adventure full of magical moments. I have had immense tragedy, immense sorrow and pain, physical and emotional wounds, but what is the most alive in me is Hanta Yo- Clear the way. I know in my heart these simple words are the cleansing and motivation I have always had in me. I hear you, my grandfather. I hear once more the blast from the eagle bone whistle. Kree, Kree, Kree, my life has been the life I've always searched for and today as I sit here writing I know its inside of you also, Hanta Yo…..Clear the way…..