My Grandfather By Melissa Aug 24, 2017 Rodman Hall Art Centre

My grandfather. His name is Ron. He is a second-generation Mohawk Indian living off the reserve. His father’s parents were taken and put into Residential school. He served in the United States Military and when he came home, he married my grandmother Gayle, whom I’ve never met. They had my mother, aunt, and uncle. I remember him even though I wouldn’t say he was ever a role model or inspiration. He drank a lot, smoked, and listened to Patsy Cline. He watched me a lot when I was very young as my mother was a single mother at 20. He was very dark- black hair, black eyes, always cleaned shaved, and very handsome. He told the best stories and although he lived a hard life and drank too much, he was very intelligent. I remember it like it was yesterday how smoky his apartment was and how badly it stunk of smoke. At 4 years old rolling him cigarettes. The hum of classic country playing on the record player. Corn bread, corn soup, and Tang was always on the menu. I didn’t know I came from something beautiful because it had been so stripped it was barely recognizable. It wasn’t until 24 years later cancer had destroyed his body and taken his life at his funeral that I heard the drums, the chants, and felt the spirits ignite my blood memory. I realized I am Native and part of something more than cigarette smoke and the smell of aftershave when booze was unavailable. His spirit was torn from him before he ever had a chance. And at that moment I felt proud and my grandfather had become an inspiration to me.

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