Back in 2005, I worked for a struggling tribal program. I was a temporary employee and it was my second time working for the program. The first time I had been RIF-fed. This time, I stayed employed just long enough to feel what it was like to go to a conference and get per diem. To save money, my co worker Chepa and I shared a room. We ate out the first night at a restaurant and towards the end of the conference we hit up the places that sold dollar sandwiches.
However, we still thought we were cool with our little name tag hanging from a lanyard on our necks and going around to all the freebie tables. It was my first conference, so Chepa was showing me the ropes. Just fill out their form and you get a little book bag, etc. at one table they had to take our blood pressure and we got a coffee cup. They asked us the general questions, height, weight etc. I remember trying to say my weight all incognito and nonchalant and Chepa looked at me and said WHAT? Making all the nurses on the other side of the table giggle. They couldn’t get a reading on my blood pressure with their new thing that strapped around my arm and squeezed me so hard I tried to be a big girl about it and look away. So they put another one on me, pushed a button and off it went squeezing the daylights out of me. All of a sudden I didn’t want the coffee cup.
Finally they had to take my blood pressure the old fashioned way and it was slightly high. As they were taking my blood pressure the old fashioned way Chepa said “Geez all I wanted was a coffee cup and now they are ready to call Flight for Life for you.” He made us all laugh again and I told him to go away. As we were making arrangements for me to get it checked again when I went home, Chepa was wandering around. I also got more than a coffee cup since they kind of tortured me.
Chepa was excited when I was finished and rubbing my arm walking his way. He had found a psychic who was doing free five minute readings. “Nooooo, Chepa.” I didn’t want to see a psychic. I didn’t want to know my future. I had no intention of hearing any sort of doomsday from some funny acting person.
Please he said, or just stand with me.
We stood in line and I started timing her sessions, I don’t think one lasted five minutes. Which was fine because I hate standing in line. She wasn’t what I thought a psychic would look like. She was sweet and had gentle eyes. Her name was Anna B.
Chepa went first and I saw him walking away disappointed. What the hell, I am already in line. I stepped up to her and she looked at me and wanted to do a numerology reading. Taking my name down she noted that my names all had four letters. Dana Lynn Lone Hill. 4 x 4= 16 divided by 4 is still 4 so my number was 4. I don’t remember the significance of that but she asked me if I reach out to people, if I recently started to? Did I write?
Yes, I said. I had just moved to Pine Ridge and started a blog on a website called Yahoo 360 and was surprised because I had a couple of regular readers who read my views on things that mattered to me.
“Your voice is going to go far Dana Lone Hill. You keep doing what you do. You keep writing and telling the world what you want them to hear, you will write for newspapers and many other media outlets. One day you will even write a book and people will read it.”
That is what I want to do, I told her write a book.
“How old are you?” she asked.
“You won’t write it right away. You have a few hills to climb and some battles to win, but you will. I don’t see you writing this book until you are in your 40’s. But best of luck.”
I walk away from her feeling somewhat hopeful for my blog but thinking she was wrong about my book. Whatever, I thought. I will start it when I get home.
“She was a fraud.” Chepa said “She told me I was going to be a singer and I missed playing basketball.”
“Yeah.” I said “I don’t know if she is right, telling me I won’t finish a book until I am in my 40s. Whatever, man, that’s too far away. I’ll be old then.”
I saw Anna the next year in Rushville, Nebraska and shook her hand. I told her more and more people were reading my writing, although I didn’t tell her that I started a book a hundred times and was never happy with it. She encouraged me to reach out to Lakota Country Times, which I did. I began to immediately write for them for the next three years. And I battled many battles, too.
I often think of Anna and her kind eyes. I thought of her all those years when she told me I would fight my battles and win, that I would face my demons. At the time, I didn’t know most of the battles were within my own self. After everything I have gone through, Anna B was always in the back of my mind. Telling me I would get through this. One of the only people whom I wasn’t related to, pushing me along to get to where I am going and do what I had to do.
And she was there when my book was finally done, in my 40’s.
Anna B, I don’t know where you are, but I would like to think that instead of resting in peace, your spirit wanders, as it did in life, still encouraging gently from the other side. Thank you.