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Thursday, June 29, 2017

America's Throw Away Indian Project: Going For A Drive Part II

A link to Going For A Drive Part I at the foot of this post...

Part II

We were standing in the Post office, and my father had approached the man who had come in to collect his mail.  My dad, towering over him, places his hand on the man's shoulder and asks, "Are you, Cyril Livingstone?"

The man reluctantly responds, "Yes."

We later found out the man who my father approached had been mistaken for another person the week prior who had committed a crime.  Of course, he was released. However, it did make him a little leery, especially when a stranger in a post office approached him and asked his name.  It truly was a case of mistaken identity.

My father introduced himself to Cyril and explained how he adopted me and how he had driven us straight through from California.  The man and my dad looked my way.  I was still hiding in the corner.  Their gaze, in unison, turned to me.  I stood there frozen in time as my father told him the story of my adoption and how he had my biological mother's name and the name of one relative and my dad asked him, "Do you have a sister named Lauraine?"  Cyril responded, "I have a sister named Laura."  Still looking at me Cyril knew right away I was his niece.  He could tell I was the daughter of his sister Laura.  I bear a striking resemblance to my biological mother.  There was no doubt that my dad had found my family.

Julie Miers, born Julie Danielle Rhynes

My biological mother.  
Date of birth, age, location, unknown.

I could hear both my dad's deep calm voice and the unfamiliar voice of the man who was my biological uncle.  I remember hearing them speaking, but nothing distinctive.  I saw this look wash over the small man's face as he gazed at me as if he had seen a ghost.  My papa, with an all too familiar scowl on his brow, rigorously motioned his hands at me to come to him.  With perturbation, shuffling my feet to slow my gate, my hands behind my back and my fingers interlocked, my chin down, and with my shoulders tense and pulled up to my ears, I mosied over and joined the men.  My uncle said, "Hey! My God, she looks just like her." I nervously stood with my pops, grasping his arm and leaning into his armpit and my face on his chest.  This is when my uncle threw his arms around me and said, "I can't believe this is real.  I can't believe this is actually happening."  Cyril was my biological mother's younger brother.  He immediately insisted we come home with him and break bread.

Upon arriving at a strange, to me, home, we were ushered inside by my Uncle Cyril.  My dad and I stood in the living room while my Uncle Cyril disappeared into another room.  Shortly after, my uncle return followed by an old woman. She had her arms wide open and called my name over and over, "Julie, Julie, Julie"  This was my grandmother, Clara.  She was the grandmother who had attempted to get custody of me somewhere between my mother's death on December 21st, 1967 and the date of my adoption, February 8th, 1970.

Clara Livingstone
My daughter's namesake

It was my biological grandfather Gilbert and his wife, Clara who were denied custody of me.  They returned to Canada, and it was at this point I was considered dead by my biological family as was customary.  So, when my dad, George, drove me home and found my family, it was literally as if I had been brought back to life.  I had been brought back from the dead.

Side note for your consideration:  I want the reader to imagine the horrible possibility of your death.  I want you to imagine your parents attempting to retrieve your children from the DHS and being denied.  I want you to imagine your parents going to court seeking custody of your survivors and the courts denying your parents custody and placing your children for adoption?  It is real.  It happened to me.  I want you to imagine for what reason the courts would do this, and I am being polite, misguided act.  Please entertain this idea.  I wonder how you would feel and I wonder how your children would feel?

My family
That fateful day my dad found our way to my home

Back to my story
The family was called, at least the family that lived nearby. They were called, and a huge meal was prepared.  In my memory, it took some time to gather everything and everyone for the celebratory dinner.  How long I cannot remember correctly.  So I will not take liberties with my story.  Much of my memories after that are foggy.  I do remember my grandma Clara giving me a basket she had woven.  I have it to this day

This basket was woven by my grandmother Clara.  I have had this basket for 38 years.

My uncle Cyril, later in life becomes an essential connection to my connection to my tribe.  His name was Cyril Livingstone.  Shortly after meeting my dad and me, Cyril became Chief to our people.  No one knew then my uncle would become a champion for our tribe.  No one knew then Uncle Cyril would become a representative for the Lake Cowichan First Nation band and a member of the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group (HTG). I will speak more about Cyril in another post.

Here is an article tribute to Chief Cyril Livingstone

To be continued...


To read part One: #ATAIP  GOING FOR A DRIVE;  Click here

1 comment:

  1. A link to Part I of Going for a drive.


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