Spiritual Autobiography (B)

I recently re-watched the movie, G.I.Jane. In this movie, the Navy Seals were trained to “Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape”. What would you think if those were the morals of a developing child? When I was a teenager, my grandmother asked me, “What about virtue? What are your morals?” She didn’t really want to know, and all I could answer was to survive.  She was a Congregationalist Protestant. I hope to say in court one day that the U.S. Army never stopped their genocidal program that targeted my Native American ancestors, even against those of us that are U.S. citizens like my grandfather, my birth mother, and myself.     I learned from my grandmother’s humility. To work with my grandfather’s traditional Native beliefs, she had to accept responsibility for all the stupid things her son had done as a young man that led to my mother’s suicide. I know I’ve read a New Testament bible verse that says those who sin the most are forgiven the most; therefore they love Jesus more for covering their many or worse inequities. I’ve always had a lot to confess but the Bible says though our sins be as scarlet, you can be made white as snow. My birth mother was the spiritual one, yet she had Native responsibility for our relations with the Earth and converted to Christianity which was kind of like taking on Armageddon. Christians might acknowledge stewardship for God’s creation and for the beasts of the field, but they don’t teach these relations the same way that the Natives do. To many Christians, the Earth isn’t their mother, and the wolf isn’t their friend.
Aunt Jane had a lot to do in Colorado while I was growing up in Missouri and Kansas. My cousin Doug grew up in Emporia, KS where his father was the football and golf coach and eventually Athletic Director at ESU. Doug wanted to be an Air Force Officer at the Air Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Aunt Jane was a Women’s Assistant Athletic Coach at CU in Boulder. She had to ask a Colorado Senator for a letter for Doug to move to Colorado and become an Air Force Officer. Doug’s brother Mike lived in Boulder also as a civilian. Doug is now retired.
Jane said we were supposed to change our ancestors’ military values into competition in organized sports and in the market. I won a Junior Achievement prize from the Chamber of Commerce in St. Joe when I was six or seven for selling school supplies to my classmates in grade school. Then I sold YMCA candy door-to-door and won a free week at YMCA camp with horses and swimming and lots of camp activities in little work groups. I felt the presence of my ancestors in that environment and it was fun. My father’s two brothers were math teachers. My father’s adherence to logic was why he had no faith in the unseen world. Jane and I together were in a world of sex-segregation and sex-integration. In sixth-grade, I became the first female to saw down the school’s Christmas tree with a boy and the first female crossing guard. That year, the grade school’s first girls’ basketball team was put together and coached by one of the girl’s stepfather. I played basketball even though I wasn’t so great at it so they would have enough girls to form a team. I also played girls basketball for two years at Bode Middle School. At the end of eighth grade which was the end of middle school, my family moved from St Joe, MO to Leawood, KS.

In Kansas, my freshman English teacher was the girls’ basketball coach. Amy was new Varsity center for the team and was a friend of mine in English class. She though Coach East should let me keep the girls stats because I was developing good math skills. They had plenty of girls competing for Varsity and Junior Varsity teams. I kept the stats for most of that first year before Doris said I couldn’t do it anymore because my grades weren’t doing so hot. No one was concerned how this loss may affect my development of quantitative skills for college or lack thereof. Girls Golf in the Fall Season was my only high-school sport. In my freshman year at Blue Valley, the girls golf team need a girl golfer so they would have six players for a full team. Most of the girls in my class didn’t make the varsity basketball team until they were in their junior year. I received a varsity letter in golf for all four years. Coach East taught me how play the basketball point guard position in gym class. My motor skills coordination finally developed my sophomore year and then had so much better coordination. My new best friend Debbie moved into the school district when I was a sophomore. She was the one who developed into a varsity point guard for the girl’s high school basketball team. Debbie also became a champion cross-county runner on the high school team and a sprinter on the track team and the president’s girl’s physical fitness winner. She joined the Marine Corps right after high school and moved to Camp Lajeune.
After 1970, Aunt Jane became busy with Title 9 lawsuits and challenges and college recruiting. My first crash weight loss program was in eighth-grade. The diet group sponser was the girls Physical Education teacher and it was something like Weight Watchers. I won for the most weight lost in that competition, and I discovered cycling as my favorite means to burn the calories. St. Joseph has some beautiful side streets for cycling. I had learned to swim when I was much younger. I took a beginner’s tennis group lesson at the country club in the summer between seventh and eighth grades but I didn’t ever have a tennis partner after that. We moved to a condominium at Leawood South in Kansas where the first hole of the golf course was our back yard. That first summer there before I started high school, I didn’t know many people and gained all the weight back that I had lost in my depression. My only activity was hitting a tennis ball against the garage door and taking beginner golf lessons for the club’s golf pro. Coach East said she laughed so much when I first had to run some standardized test around the track in freshman gym class because I couldn’t breathe and didn’t have a running form at all. Coach East was a distance runner herself and didn’t eat much at all. She was great at helping girls develop new skills. She helped me develop poetry-writing skills, and the senior English teacher helped me with writing short fiction. Aunt Jane died shortly after she retired from CU in 1980.
My grandfather’s life in Oklahoma and my life afterwards cover the whole 20th century. He was the one forcibly removed from his parents’ home and placed in an Oklahoma boarding school where his long braids were chopped off and he was forced to learn and speak English as a second language. Later in his life, he won a scholarship to Hampton Institute where he became a certified teacher. He returned to Oklahoma where he taught English as a public school teacher and raised four daughters with a white woman. I don’t know her name. We called my grandmother Mamaw, and he was Pop. I have many photos taken with Mamaw who came to visit my mother in St. Joe before she died. Then, Pop remarried. He wanted me to learn English spelling and grammar well from my public school teachers, and I called on them to help me. I also learned to speak French and Spanish in high school and college like my uncle, the priest who was fluent in foreign languages and gave Mass in Spanish. He played the piano beautifully by ear. He was a math teacher before he worked in the business office at the Abbey. Both my uncles had a wonderful sense of humor. My other uncle was a public school teacher and taught math in Wichita, KS. He was married with two children and was much younger than my father. He was a Baptist and played the piano for a muscial group called All God’s Children.  My father died from lung cancer in 1979, two years after we had moved to Kansas.
Jane never married that I know of. I wasn’t taught much about sex and gender except that I needed to look for feminist mentors. Because I was the only kid with all of my ancestors, I know they call my orientation two-spirit in Native American culture. I recognize my gender identification as androgeny and my sexual orientation as bisexual in a world that is gay or straight not gay and straight. Now, I’m fat and old and haven’t been sexually active in almost thirty years so sex doesn’t matter in my life. People always wanted to make sex a conflict with community not a partnership. I didn’t even want the partnership anymore, and I certainly don’t like the conflict. If you knew my parents’ stories, you wouldn’t be interested in a sexual partner either.


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