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… what would happen over the next few days would amaze us all & leave us astonished. The Native people would prepare a wonderful ceremony. When Dad passed, The Elder Mary Helen went directly to the tribal councel & said that “this man was my son,... & I would like to request Wex'lium” (this means The Lodge of the Frogs). The Wex'lium building is a great cedar long house with large round-log beams 4' or better in diameter with Native carvings of diferent animals in the Totems. It is beautiful, & reserved for Native Lummi funeral services only. A Wanitum or white guy would never be honored in such a way,... this is unheard of & very, very special. Dad would have been humbled greatly, that she would call him son & ask for the Wex'lium to honor a man who had simply loved their little people(children) by volunteering at recreational days, teaching an instrument to one of them & fellowshipping as a volunteer chaplain at the Watcom County Jail or helping as a first responder type of comforter in the local community. Through this,... he was a man that was their friend. He didn't cram religion down their throats. He didn't tell them fire & brimstone scary guilt filled stories of Hell,... instead,... he just simply loved them, listened to their trials, attended many funeral serices of their own(they said he never missed one in the two years, he would sit quietly & respectfully & offer to help the Lodge caretaker afterwards with cleanup), he visited them when they were in trouble, spent time with them as an equal & helped where & when he could. Dad had no REV infront of his name, he just simply was part of their community. I think that's why they loved him & mourned his passing so.
The Tribal Council had been in conference when Mary Helen rolled her wheel chair up in their presence. One of the other Elders stopped the meeting to see what Granny had to say. She gave a beautiful testimony of how her son had helped their nation. Her voice is very powerful in presence to behold. They approved it without hesitation & went directly to the planning board to clear the schedule for the 2 day ceremony which took place a week after he was gone.
The Lummi people built a special traditional Native cedar casket (called a green casket 'cause the red cedar is pegged together & there are no nails used) with embelishments of eagles, Native symbols & crosses. Rope pulls with wooden handles would allow the honorable pall bearers to take Dad's last steps on this Earth for him. They believe, that in their culture,... the loss of a love one is more than the family can bear. We rote letters about Dad as requested so that certain folks could read them as we mourned. They would prepare 2 great feasts for us. The first day would be a clam chowder & the second would be BBQ'd Salmon steaks,... after all this people still fishes for a living. Wex'lium would be full of their songs for 2 days. People would give great accounts of how Dad had touched their lives. We would shed many tears at the beauty in which their ways honoured those who have gone on. Dad would have an open casket, a simple man in a flanel with a beard, a Buchanan tartan representing his Scottish heritage & a Lummi friendship blanket representing his acceptance into their family. We would be treated wonderfully despite our pale skin & lack of knowledge of their peoples ways. They would help us through the events by assigning young girls to lead us around various intricacies without judgement of our ignorance. We humbly complied & were deeply touched.
I could go on, but out of respect for the Lummi Nation, I know there ways are sacred,.. so I'll close with this simple account:
They Drummed Dad in on Friday singing in their Native toungue, they would worship in Hymns to God the Father the Son & the Holy Spirit, & the Bellingham Pipe Major marched Dad out Saturday afternoon & played Amazing Grace as we somberly fell parting tears after being embraced in a hug & kind words. It is their tradition that by doing these hugs,.. each one takes a little of the hurt awy, distributing it equally among the people. As Dad's casket was placed in the herse they sang once more. They have a deep connection to the Earth & nature. Their songs move on the winds & Pacific seashore & will forever remind me that God has a will & purpose for each & everyone of us,...