Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Crow Mother

You know that question "If your house was burning down and you could only grab three things to save, what would they be?" I've never had a good answer to that question. I am very much a non-materialistic person. I don't care so much about stuff. I usually say my computer, because getting a new computer and setting it up is annoying. But all my important docs are saved to cloud servers so it wouldn't be all that tragic to lose my computer. I just didn't really have much of value that couldn't be replaced.

I now have a different answer. I would absolutely save my Crow Mother Kachina.

Kachinas are Native American dolls that have a lot of meanings. While those meaning are important, the meaning of my kachina is more important.

My Grandma Gatlin collected, sold and knew vast amounts of information about Native American art. I learned much more about my Native American roots from her (who was not Native American) than from my grandfather (who was). When I think about and remember my grandma one of the more prominent things is thinking about her vast collection (on the positive side). From the time I was itty bitty and can remember my first memories I associated her with Native American art, and specially kachinas.

Crow Mother was always my favorite kachina. I would stare at her on the shelf and sometimes my grandma would let me take her down and look at her. I loved all her kachinas but something in particular about Crow Mother spoke to me. Maybe it was my young feminist side who loved her power and respect as one of the highest female kachinas. Maybe it was her gentle look, although her role is not so gentle. But for whatever reason, I loved her. And my grandma always said that when she died I could have her.

Fast forward 30-ish years. My grandma died. The events and family web of complications around her death were messy and somewhat strained. I gave up hope that Crow Mother would make her way to me. I made peace with that.

Fast forward to 6 months after she died, and I was home in Indiana for Christmas. I was downstairs and went to the bathroom in my mom and stepdad's room. I walked in the room and there she was. It very literally took my breath away. There were some other things sitting in the window ledge with her, but all I could stare at was her. I couldn't believe it.

Not one to be able to hide my emotions or keep secrets, I ran upstairs and asked my stepdad about it. He was like "Oh, that was supposed to be a surprise." Later that night when my mom was back at the house she brought all of the treasures upstairs. My sisters didn't have as close of a relationship with her as I did, so my mom picked out some nice pots for them and they seemed happy with them. But she remembered that Crow Mother was what I'd always had my heart set on. I was overjoyed and overcome with emotion. She had also brought three ceraminc dolls with her, since we are three sisters. I chose the one that had the sun god painted on it. I didn't have any real attachment to the dolls, but since that doll had a painting of another of my favorite kachinas on it, that held some meaning.

Crow Mother has some broken parts that have been re-glued and fixed. I don't care. Her value is not in her quality and pristine appearance. Her value is much more deep and meaningful. She symbolizes some of the good things about my grandma and some of the happy memories I have of her. In some ways, the fact that she's a little banged up is even sweeter. My grandma was a clumsy clod of a person. I share that with her. We tried to be careful but our bodies always betray us. Crow Mother has been moved from several houses, has probably been dropped a zillion times, but her worth is more than her bumps and bruises. She's beautiful and has survived. Much like my grandma, and much like me. Crow Mother is my prized material possession. I'd save her in a second.

No comments: