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Life Like It Should Be
|by Maria Reed-Shore|
He felt the keys as he struck them one by one. He was new at this. He returned from the war, with all sorts of disabilities, his eyesight was poor and his mind had been lost by horror of war. Very little remained in his heart, he needed time to become well.
Words came slowly; it came, hazy at first. The frightening ones were vivid, he lived and dreamed them. He knew that writing his journals would bring emotions to the surface, opening wounds.
He was the only one that returned from battle platoon. He wished he were one of them that lay in the coffins draped with the American flag.
He was honored, but guilt and shame filled his heart with shame and rage, he drove away any possibilities of ties to people. He became a recluse, enjoying silence, after the screams and cries of war.
He now lives in an Indian lodge. In the wilderness, living off the land with no possession of any kind; just what he holds in the deep recesses of his mind. He finds comfortable here, without watchful eyes of physicians or therapists.
Nothing worked, so he returns to his tribe, being of Native American heritage. He finds refuge here.
The medicine man takes one look at him and mumbles something in native tongue. He knew the man needed help, but only time would do the healing, a long process, because he alone would find it.
He is given one of the old lodges away from the others; it belonged to an old hermit, that had remained empty after he passed. It was badly in need of repair.
Rain Andrew was his name. He was named ‘man of sorrow’ because he held much sadness in his life. Even at an early age. He was left orphaned, taken in by the tribal council. The “mother” they gave him was old and without means. His inheritance helped to give them a better life. Rain did a lot for her. He helped to maintain the lodge, ran errands, hunted for food, cooked and cleaned. He was made responsible; she in turn shared her wisdom with him. They both needed love and companionship. She would tell him stories of the tribe and of his heritage … he listened and learned from her. She knew herbal cures, so she taught him how to gather herbs and roots, to preserve them and use them for certain purposes. She chanted. She told him that every Indian should know how to chant, mainly for rituals and well being.
She was gone now…but he still remembers her. She had a strange name. “Lady that holds the key” … he would call her “mother” because she took care of him.
He went to work refurbishing the lodge before the winter came. He often found old relics and trinkets around the place. He wondered why it had never been touched. He put them in a box for safe keeping; for things that were too large to store in boxes, he would hang up, it made the place look lived in. He liked the feel of it. He would chant when he felt unwell, used the herbs in teas to quiet his fears.
He started to look for the herbs and then would dry them outside on a stoop. He covered them with a cloth to keep safe from the elements.
He let his hair grow long, like the braves of old. His appearance was daunting at first, but then when he spoke; it brought calm to whoever that came upon him. His footing was light. He seldom spoke, but when he did, he would share wisdom.
Soon the creatures of the wild would come to visit, he would speak to them in a soothing tone, and they would listen to him, trusting him with their lives.
He was spiritual as well. His people knew he was different in nature, because of his experiences of loss, and war. This was a man of peace. He abhorred violence. “Anything can be fixed with wise words.” He would say.
Rain would find people flocking to him for cures. He knew what they needed as soon as he sat and talked to them. They knew he could cure them, it was their faith in him, that did the cure…but they would not hear of it, they believed that he held healing powers.
He would use the old typewriter to write down the remedies, and wrote a diary of his daily encounters.
Soon his apprehension left him. He was not afraid anymore. Later on, he helped men who came back from the war who suffered just like him.
He decided that he would build a village just for veterans. They didn’t have to be Native American to be here. He would say, “We are brothers, after all.”
The elders would say to each other “He lives life like it should be lived”.
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