Fawn Jackson stood as straight and tall as her five foot, five and a half inch frame would allow and tried hard not to look as if her black mourning clothes were swallowing her alive. She would not allow her sobs to break forth. If she had learned anything at the finishing school Senator Browning had sent her to, it was that a lady kept her emotions in check when in public. She had just received the telegram the day before, urging her to return home immediately. Holding the tears and fears in check was no easy task. Her chest felt constricted. Her breaths were deep and shallow. Her eyes blinked often as she held them rigid. Tears would be allowed in private. It wasn’t fair. If her mother was having a proper Shawnee burial there would be much open grieving and chanting as they helped her mother release her spirit into the netherworld. The white man’s way was torture.
Her grandmother, known by everyone in the holler as Nana, used her left elbow to press the cane to her side as she swiped away her tears. With her right arm she hugged her only remaining relative close. She whispered to Fawn, “We’ll be alright. It won’t be easy, but we’ll be alright.”
Fawn looked up at Nana as a tear seeped out of the corner of her eye. “Right. So why did your God take the rest of our family?” She felt like screaming but instead the words came out almost as a low growl.
Nana tried to comfort Fawn. “God didn’t take them, Fawn. People did. Death and sometimes war, are part of life. We live and we die. But we never expect to bury our children. Don’t blame God, honey.”
It would just be the two of them now and Fawn would need to find employment if she was to take care of Nana and be able to hold on to the six acres of land that had been leased to them. She would not be able to return to school. She was needed at home.
The minister finished the graveside service and the few friends and neighbors there came by and offered their condolences. “If there is anything we can do,” was murmured repeatedly, but what could anyone do? They all had their own lives, their own families, their own needs to attend to.
It should have been raining but the sky would not weep for Fawn’s mother. Fawn longed to get away and pray to her native ancestors for her mother’s peaceful entrance to reunion with their great chiefs, warriors, and medicine men, and the wise women whose spirits still guided them today.
Nana took a deep breath, sighed and said, &ldqu...