Life Story




My life changed when my mother suddenly died, when I was five years old. When I asked my step-father about how my mother was when she was still alive and not drinking, he did not answer. I also asked my step-father what caused her death and got the same response. It was not until I was eighteen years of age that he told me what had happened. My step-father told me that my mother went out drinking with her friends and didn't come home for a week. When she came home, we were both asleep and she lay down beside us. In the morning, he tried to wake her, but she never opened her eyes again. It was the alcohol that killed her.

When my mother passed on to the spirit world, my step-father was to take care of me. His drinking problem took over him, so he had to give me up to my aunt. Before my mother died, she instructed my step-father to give me to my aunt if he couldn't take care of me. From the constant moving from place to place, I never felt the comfort or unity of family until I was old enough to be on my own. Instead, I felt like I was alone, like nobody really cared that I was around.

There was one time when my step-father gave me a painted pony. I was very proud to have it, but my aunt's family did not approve. I felt that I could have really taken care of the pony. They didn't give me the chance. When I came home from school one day, the pony was gone. They had sold the pony to a horse trainer and I never saw any of the money they got from it. There was also another time when my step-father gave me a train set and my cousins got very upset. In order to please her children, my aunt had to buy them new toys. Their toys were not good enough for them; they wanted something better then the train set I had. One day, they got even. I went to play with my train set and it was broken. I was very hurt. Everything that I got from outside the family didn't last very long because my cousins were jealous and my aunt saw to it that they were always to have better.

My cousins were never in the wrong, therefore, I was the one to get the belt to my back. When I got hit, it made black and blue bruises on my back. As a result, I felt I was always alone and fighting not for anyone, but myself. I was scared and I lived in a little box and didn't talk to nor trust anyone.

When things went wrong, I've always felt the urge to run away, but my step-father would stop me and say that it would just cause more problems than there already were. There was another thing that stopped me from going. It was my mother's spirit. I remember one incident when things were at their worst. I was lying in my room at night and saw a ghost-like figure of my mother. When I saw my mother come through the walls, I thought I was dreaming, but it was not a dream. The reason I believe so is because this image of my mother was speaking to me. I can't remember exactly what she had said, but I do remember my cousins giggling in the background. When they asked me what I was looking at, I could not respond because I froze from fear. After that incident, I couldn't sleep by myself. To this day, I wonder many things about that supernatural night. I feel that she said something very meaningful to me, but I believe her appearance is what remains in my mind. Even though I can't see her, she is still with me spiritually. From that point on, I simply took things as they were. I did work as I was told. I did not argue with anybody in order to get my way. I kept my feelings inside myself to avoid any further conflict.

At the age of eighteen, I moved in and out of my aunt's home. I couldn't handle the way things were anymore. When the matters at home would turn bad, I moved out of my aunt's place and lived with my friends. Then, when the situation with my friends wouldn't work out, I would move back in with my aunt. I believe to this day, I would still be moving back and forth if it wasn't for my move to college. Yet, when I did go back for summer vacation, I stayed with my aunt. It was no surprise that my return from college, where no one of the family has ever attempted to go, had no affect on them. They weren't the least bit concerned with my choice of furthering my education. Not one said, "Welcome back, Ira!" or "How was your first year of college?" I feel maybe they lost their respect for me because I left the reservation; that I lost the spirituality and conformed to the "white" man society. They would not consider the fact that I am trying to earn a degree from school. They just see that I chose not to grow up to be like them and I believe they resent me for it.

I  feel experiencing hardship while I was growing up taught me a lot about life. It made me a better person to understand that there are different ways of showing love and care for another. I know deep down my aunt cared for me while I was growing up in her family, though she did not wish it to appear that way. Even though I am hurt on how I was treated, I respect my aunt very much because she provided a place for me-a place to grow. If I had lived in another house, I believe I wouldn't be in college right now. I didn't want that treatment for the rest of my life and college was one road I took to get out.





 "Life Story" © 1992, 1995 by Ira Sago

 Original Graphic Image © 1995 by Jim Davis-Rosenthal


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