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bad hair, birthdays and death

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post #37
bio: raquel

first post
that week

'le vie c'est tres droll'

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it's a bad hair day in le vie. no signature middle curl. none of my co-workers recognize me without it.

Bad hair aside, Grandma Shirley's 90th birthday is coming up. October 26th. Me and my Mom and Grandma have this 30-60-90 thing going. Don't tell my Mom I told you she was 60. Shirley freely admits to being 89, when she remembers that she is. I have 350 days till I break the chain. Unless I have a kid this year, which is not looking likely, folks.

*As a point of clarification I am going to throw in a reminder that we are now talking about my Mother's side, the Minnesotan Jewish side of my family, as opposed to my dad's Venezuelan Jewish side. That's right I am 100% Heeb. Okay, back to the story.

So my cousin and my sister have been working up this sort of oral history about her and her husband of 62 years my grandfather, Marvin. Marvin passed away back in '97 when I was in Omaha doing Schoolhouse Rock Live. Sadly enough, my last second "bereavement fare" flight (a mere $1,000 probably more than what I made doing that show) was canceled and I missed his funeral by minutes. The fucking Fort Peck Tribal Council made it there, but I didn't. I was there for the burial though. It feels like a lifetime ago.

The oral history is pretty funny reading for the most part. When it's not really sad stuff of loss and death and all. My Grandfather was one of those larger than life types. He was a renown lawyer who represented Native Americans and became particularly well known for the Black Hills land claim case which went on for oh, 25 years. It wound up in the Supreme Court. He also helped set up the Indian Claims Commission for the US Gov't and did a ton of other feats in helping change Native American land laws to allow just compensation. He worked until 2 days before he died. His last day was the first one that he left the office with a clear desk.

I wonder what it was the drew him to the Native Americans. In his eulogy his partners talk about how dedicated he was and how much he loved his work in part because of his "boyhood growing up in Minnesota with Indians". I have my doubts though. I wonder if he had a boyhood at all growing up in the Depression. At one point I remember thinking that he grew up the youngest of 9 kids and they all worked to put him through law school. This is a total lie, that no doubt someone in my family crafted to find out just how gullible I am. (Answer: deeply gullible). Maybe I just can't picture him as a boy because I only knew him as an imposing, distinguished and removed older man with an understated and unexpected sense of humor.

My suspicion is that he related to the Native Americans as an outsider. A Minnesotan Jew surrounded by Lutherans. When speaking about the Native Americans he, according to the Chairman of the Assiniboine Tribe of Fort Peck (Montana), used to refer to the injustices done to "us". He eventually became an honorary Indian chief, Chief So-no-sky. A far cry from the "Jew Lawyer", as he was referred to when he first began his work with the Native Americans. He was a living legend who affected many lives. Usually, but not always for the better. Especially if you were a waiter. But that's a story for a later blog.

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