Onward Haskell!! ( Memoirs w/ Hokte )


Grandma and I are just relaxing today. We’ve had a few good laughs this morning. We cleaned house and had lunch. She’s reading a new book I brought home. I’m not sure if I’ve said this or not but grandma went to Haskell Institute, now known as Haskell Indian Nations University. (Onward Haskell) She graduated back in 1949!

I first left for Haskell back in 2013, I asked her and my mother to help me move up to Lawrence, Kansas. I was scared. I never lived in another state away from my folks. Well I’ll be dang, grandma told me

“When I left for Haskell, I didn’t have anyone take me. I had to ride the train and I only had one suitcase.”

I thought to myself… Ok, haha all sad girl but before I left she did tell me this,

“You can’t be scared to leave the nest. There’s nothing for you here and you’ll do good things up there. You’re goin be alright Jess. After a week or two you won’t even miss me. I was scared too but I didn’t have a choice. My parents dropped me off at the train station and away I went. When I got up there, I forgot to grab my suitcase off the train. So I didn’t even have any clothes when I got to school.”

Luckily when grandma arrived at Haskell they had spare clothes for her. I remember as a kid she would always go to the Haskell Alumni meetings here in Oklahoma. She made a number of friends while she was there. She showed me her yearbook as well. I thought that was pretty cool. I sat down with her today and told her what I was writing. I asked her if she had a story she wanted to share from her time up there…..

She replied “Oh I got a good one. My friends and I were in line for breakfast. The rules were, you could only have one biscuit. Well dang it while I was in line I dropped my biscuit. I picked it up and looked around. I ended up putting that biscuit back and getting a new one. My friend behind me didn’t see what I did, and he grabbed that biscuit I dropped.”

Laughter makes the world go round and boy I tell you we laughed pretty good about that. After laughing I at least asked her if she told him?

“No, but no one else told him either.”

Once again we laughed. She still remembers her Haskell days pretty well. Somethings are in and out of course but over all she still likes to reminisce. On a side note, I started to wonder if she was the only one from her class still alive? I’m not sure who the oldest alumni is but I’m going to have to say she’s getting close. I’m hoping some of my Haskell friends will take the time to read this and wonder as well… Who is the oldest?

Anyways another story she told me was that they were having a fire dire one night. She lived on the 4th floor of her dorm and slept on the top bunk. When the fire alarm started she woke up and jumped off that bunk bed…. Just to land on her roommate below her, who was also getting out of bed. Haha, we laughed again. She told me ” I felt so bad for falling on her.” I just told her its alright you didn’t mean it.

This one is my favorite. One of her northern friends said “wasté”, to her and she didn’t know what that meant. Grandma went on after that and gathered up her clothes. (Lmao) She thought he was telling her it was wash day instead of “Wasté”. Her friend seen her later with her clothes and he asked her what she was doing with them. She said, “Didn’t you tell me it was wash day?”

Haha, I’m just happy I knew what it meant before she told me. If you don’t know what “Wasté” means, it means good in the Lakota language. Over all today we’ve shared some good laughs. I told her some of my Haskell stories. I only told her the ones that are ok for grandmas to hear. (lol) Other than that it’s about that time for her daily nap. I hope you take time to spend with your elders. They enjoy reminiscing and can be pretty funny.

Onward Haskell!

You’re my sunflower ( Memoirs w/ Hokte )

Busy busy busy…. Just busy day today. I wasn’t able to see grandma today. Honestly some days she’s too cool. I had somethings to take care of so I stopped by at least say hi! When I was living in Norman, I would call her just about everyday it seemed like. Well anyways, grandma is having an eventful evening. My aunt is a film maker and has a new documentary she’s been working on. She recently showed the film to my grandma. Grandma requested that she show the film to her friends at the Tulsa Creek Indian Community. We just call it “the center”.

My grandma has been going out there for a number of years, probably as long as I’ve been alive. She’s well known there for her volunteer work. I would always ride with her out there growing up. She spent a lot of her time there and I’m happy she did. Some of my favorite memories are from out there. My aunt did as requested. They had a viewing of her film at “the center”. They had a good turn out about 30 people showed up. I know that made grandma happy. She really enjoys her activities and her friends. I’m so happy she’s still able to enjoy things like that.

I started to think about what other activities I should try with her. We’re already scheduled for BINGO on Friday. I’m super excited about that. (lol) Other than that I told grandma that she needed to get out the house even its for 10 minutes. I told her “you’re my sunflower, I gotta make sure you’ve had enough sun and water.”

She laughed but I ended up looking up some fun activities for people with dementia. I’m looking forward to trying some of these out with her and I’ll be sure to update you guys. I know she loves to read so I brought her a nice amount of books over Native American History and what not. Other that I have attached a link with some fun activities to try. https://www.alzheimers.net/2014-03-06/stimulating-activities-for-alzheimers-patients/

Here’s another link as well that has some activities https://www.alzheimers.net/2014-03-06/stimulating-activities-for-alzheimers-patients/

Here’s another day to give thanks…. I hope any of you going through something similar makes the most of the time you have left.

There she goes… (Memoirs w/ Hokte )


Grandma went to a birthday party today for lunch. They had a nice little get together at Red Lobster. I adore that my grandma’s friends still try to get together. Sometimes her friends will come pick her up if one of us isn’t able to take her. They meet up a couple of times a month. Besides birthday parties they usually have a senior lunch or brunch. This Friday is bingo man do they get serious about it (lol)

As per usual grandma is taking her daily nap. Today was a little different. She came home and forgot where she went to eat, until she was reminded. We asked her what she ate and she couldn’t remember. She’s starting to struggle getting up from the couch. I also noticed today that she’s starting to have trouble going up stairs. We don’t have but 3 steps but I have noticed a difference.

Something interesting that she does…. She always wants to go to the bank. She’s always worried about her check book or if she has enough money. She’s been doing ok lately but there’s this one “man” that she owes money. That one is kind of a trip to hear about. She’ll get these odd kicks of thinking she owes people money, or she has bills to pay. She’ll tell us she called the bank, but we unplugged the phones awhile ago. One time I woke up from a nap and it was almost 9 o’clock at night. She had all the lights on in the house looking for a phone book to call the bank. So we just figured it was best to unplug the phones. She wouldn’t remember calling the bank anyways if she did.

She can get these weird kicks at anytime but I also heard about seasonal sundowning. “A common symptom of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, sundowning involves an increase of agitation and confusion, which occur during the early evening hours or late afternoon hours.” I have attached an article that goes in depth of explaining sundowning. https://www.alzheimers.net/how-seasonal-sundowning-can-affect-alzheimers/

Sometimes she’ll pace the house. She’ll be flustered because she can’t remember. She worries but can’t help it. It can be difficult to calm her down. So I started looking into how to manage her behaviorally changes…. This seemed to be a helpful article. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/managing-personality-and-behavior-changes-alzheimers

On a different note, I told her last week about what my project was. I told her the title and she seemed to really enjoy it. She laughed and said I should write a book. I just laughed with her. I reminded her today what my project was. She once again enjoyed the title and liked my idea. She said she wants me to start writing her stories as well. I’m not sure what stories she means. It could be stories from her childhood. It could be stories of her grandparents but who knows. I’ve heard a number of her stories and I’m excited she wants me to share.

Another day and we’re doing alright…..

Growing up at Hokte’s… ( Memoirs w/ Hokte )

As I’ve presiouly said grandma has been in the same house for over 50 years. Grandma raised 5 girls in that house. I’m pretty sure all my 6 cousins and I have lived at grandmas. I know some of my native friends are laughing thinking you only have 6 cousins? Out of my grandma’s grandkids, yes there is only 7 of us. I’m happy, I’m the baby out of all of us.

My mother and I moved back to grandma’s around 2000. I spent most of my childhood at my grandma’s. My older cousin and I were laughing this weekend about how grandma would bathe us. Man she would scrub you real good, to the point it would hurt haha. That and she would barely fill the bathtub with water. Sometimes I miss how the house used to be before they upgraded it. Other than that my cousin and I laughed about growing up at grandmas.

My cousins got to spend more time with grandma and grandpa and that’s alright. We have nothing but good memories at grandma’s. I think some of my favorite years was elementary. In first grade I would always have spelling test on Wednesday and Friday. If you passed the Wednesday test you didn’t have to take the test Friday. Grandma and I would always go to Braum’s on Wednesday morning and go over my spelling words. That’s one of my favorite times. I know she was teaching me back then but little did she know I would cherish those times for the rest of my life. They have updated the Braum’s since then but I miss the way it used to look.

One day in first grade I got brave and cheated on a spelling test. Our whole lives our parents and grandparents try to teach us right from wrong. They can only teach us so much until we do things on our own. Well dang it, as soon as I got home from school. I went and told my grandmother what I did. We only live a mile from the school. Grandma packed me up so quick in the car. She drove down to the school and made me take her to my teacher. I had to confess to my teacher what I had done. Also grandma made me apologize because she always taught me better than that. I have a number of stories about life lessons and growing up at grandma’s but this one is my favorite. I still laugh to this day about how fast she packed up and made me confess to my teacher. (lol)

I try to look at the positive things in life. It can be hard when dealing with someone with Alzheimer’s. One thing you’ll notice is that natives have a sense of humor. So while looking at the positives I tease around. I told my mother “Hey, no matter what, I can tell grandma the same story everyday and she’ll never get tired of it. I can tell her the same joke everyday and she’s going to find it just as funny or funnier than the last time.

It’s hard to be positive sometimes. It can be very frustrating. Do understand that when someone has Alzheimer’s they get frustrated as well…. Positivity can have a huge impact, with that being said I have attached a link about how positive environments can have a effect on Alzheimer’s patients. https://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2012/01/alzheimers-and-importance-of-thinking.html

Another I have attached was how to adapt as a caregiver. https://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2012/10/alzheimers-your-brain-and-adaptability.html

I Cry Sometimes About It….. (Memoirs w/ Hokte )


Today is a day, to give thanks. Today is a day to be happy.

It’s a beautiful thing, to be Indigenous.

I hope you gave thanks for you grandmother today. I sure am happy to see mine. Over the night I had time to think and pray. I thought about how beautiful our grandmothers are. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here. Remember our grandmothers prayers are still protecting us.

So it was a good day today when I seen my grandma pull up. She greeted my older cousin and I. I can’t express enough what it felt like to have her in our grandpa’s homelands again. She used to go with him all the time to Red Rock. That’s where our tribal headquarters are. She’s not even Otoe but you would think she was back in the day. (Lol)

My grandmother was always good to my grandpa, and vise versa. I’m thankful they were able to put a roof over our heads growing up. Now this post isn’t to take away from our mothers but once again… Our mother’s wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our grandmothers.

When my grandmother showed up today to be with us. I cried, I cried hard….

Why? Because I was grateful to have that one memory once again of her being in Red Rock. My oldest cousin, or as we see it, my big brother prayed over my grandmother. It was good to see her in that tipi. I cried more when I realized, that’s probably the only time I’ll ever been in that tipi with my grandmother.

I took a lot in these past 24 hours and although I got sad today,, it was a good day. I cried like a I said because one day she isn’t going to be here. So it feels good to have her in my grandpas homelands to see her grandkids.

I can see though…. In her eyes. Sometimes she’ll have a blank look on her face or she looks lost sometimes. I understand her spirit is wondering… Soon she’ll be with my grandpa again but until then, today I give thanks…