I had wandered into a small Indian shop in the foothills of
the Sierras in Northern California and struck up a conversation
with the Native American woman who owned the shop. My own Modoc
Indian heritage and love of Indian jewelry prompted me to tell
her of the pain I suffered when my mother's silver Navajo concho
belt was stolen. My mother had worn it almost every day of her
life. It has passed on to me when she had passed through the arch
of life to the other side.
I remember as a small girl putting my arms around my
mother's waist and feeling the warmth of her body through the
silver platelets. Having her belt gave me great comfort after her
As I talked with the Indian woman, I could sense her
empathy. But when I finished expressing my grief at having lost
the belt, her message was not the one of sympathy I expected.
What she gave me was a new beginning and an insight into my
"Remember," she said, "the true gift you were given was
things of the spirit. Don't ever cry over things that can't cry
My mother is not a belt. My mother is reflected in the woman
who now stands in her place - me. My true heritage is the talents
and strengths that she left to me. I no longer cry over things
that can't cry over me. I cherish the fortitude and the love a
woman left to me.