Thursday, July 31, 2008

Writing Project (#1)

Navajo was not a written language for a long time. The art of story-telling is greatly developed in that culture, but little has been recorded with a pen and paper. Perhaps to those living in that culture, Grandma Bitsilly's life is not out of the ordinary, but to me it is fascinating and I want it recorded. Last November when we visited her for Thanksgiving, I spent significant time with her having her tell me "her story." I didn't start with specific questions, I just let her talk, notebook in hand, and tried to keep up. Occasionally I'd ask for more detail, or clarification, but mostly observed as her mind travelled back through time and enjoyed precious memories.

During this most recent trip, I took what I had written and checked for accuracy. I watched as her little hunched frame would shake with silent laughter as I read over a funny memory, or as her eyes would suddenly get very deep and still when hearing about something not so pleasant to recall. It is my project now to put those stories together and get it written for my children and her posterity to have. I know it is far from a full compilation of the incredible experiences she has lived through, but it's what she chose to tell at this time, and I considered it a great compliment when she said that I had done a good thing, it was just as she said.

Included are a few stories of Che, or grandpa. He passed away 17 years ago and while he is remembered fondly, it is not appropriate to speak of the dead in that culture. I happen to break most of those kinds of rules and asked questions anyway. Here is a great picture of Che during his time as a rear-gunner during WWII. The limited knowledge I have of this man earns him the greatest respect in my mind.


This was written on the back of the photo:

"USS Hornet, 1943


This picture was taken in the Pacific War in 1943- when I was ready to go on our mission from the Aircraft Carrier USS Hornet- we kissed the Seattle Gate, Goodbye in 1942- and didn't moan perhaps, all we had in mind was Jap's Island in the pacific. You'll like your mission when you know it as I do. We bombed the Jap's Ammunition dumps and cave's and battleships. In many case's the only warning would be the "cry" "Fire in the Hole." I thought My day was up in the war- but I came home safe and sound, War was Hell."




This photo is of Denten's mother, Dianna, and her younger brother, Elvis. What a treasure!





6 comments:

McKelle said...

Wow, that's pretty amazing! I wish I would have done that with my grandpa. I also wish I would have taped him singing and talking. I think of how he talked and it makes me laugh when I think about it. My grandpa fought in the pacific in WWII too. His stories were pretty crazy. Keep it up. That is a great project and a very valuable keepsake.

juliancalebmomma said...

Wow, how amazing. I love learning about grandparents' lives, it always inspires me to live mine better for some reason. Now when your kids ask you stories about their grandparents (like I used to do) you are totally prepared for them. This will make the best future-FHE too.

Becky said...

I love this post, Amberly! What a wonderful gift you are giving everyone as you record memories...

Kristi said...

Amberly - amazing hardly begins to describe you. I am always spellbound when reading your blog. Thank you for your writings, feelings, and thoughts!

Lindsay said...

wow. Diana looks a lot like her father. He was a very handsome man. good pics!

Sandi said...

I hope you post more of these stories. This was really great to feel.