engarian (engarian) wrote,

Remembering Irby

 The notice is sparse:

Irby Leroy Hand

PINE RIDGE - Irby Leroy Hand, 62, Pine Ridge, died Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010, at Rapid City Regional Hospital in Rapid City.

Arrangements are pending with Sioux Funeral Home.

I assume...indeed I know, that more information will be available closer to the date of the memorial and funeral. Irby, a giant of a man with a heart as large as this world, will be receiving a full funeral - three days of memories, gifts, food, and ceremonies. And will finally be buried somewhere on Pine Ridge Reservation. I can't be there because I can't leave the shop at this time of the year. My nephew, Barry, dropped by the shop yesterday to tell me the news and tell me that he was heading out there. The rest of the family will also be gathered. I met Irby many years ago. I was in my brother Floyd's kitchen - the gathering point of the house he had in Saint Paul, when Irby and his wife Wendy walked in. Irby was a big man in a family of big men - think Hagrid and you're close. But he was softspoken and gentle. Over the years I got to know Wendy and Irby and their ever-expanding family. Because of their large hearts, they fostered many children, some for a short time, others for many years. Wendy died unexpectedly in 2004 and I felt that I had lost a sister. I know that Irby is together with her once again and that they are probably gathering any orphans who need love around them in the next world - whatever world that may be. What I know is that I will miss him and the world is much poorer without his presence.

Cemetery in the City
Cemeteries on the Rez are not this large or built-up, but they
serve the same purpose...a remembrance of those who now
dwell there.

I tried to find a picture of him, but there were none on my hard drive or the internet. That doesn't really surprise me. When I go back to the Rez to visit friends and relations, I don't bring a camera. The majority of times I am there is for ceremony and pictures are forbidden. I simply got out of the habit of carrying a camera with me. Even though I haven't been back to the Rezs since my Grandmother died in 2001, it has been a slow process to automatically carry a camera with me again, and relatively recent. So, no pictures of Irby, or anyone else from the Rez for that matter, except for some treasured photos of my Grandmother and Auntie.

Cemetery in the country
This is closer to reality - the graves are
tended by relatives and regulations that exist in
city cemeteries are quite different that these rural ones.

Now, people who know that I am an orphan and an only child will wonder at the sudden brother and uncle and other relations that are cropping up here. My Rez family is, in essence, my second family. I certainly don't look Indian - my light blonde hair and blue eyes just don't blend into the dark hair and brown eyes of Pine Ridge (I refer to myself as the white sheep of the family). But family is more than physical appearance - family is heart, family is soul, and family is love. All of those things I did get from my second family and they will always be my family in my heart. So, on Sunday I lost an Uncle - an irreplaceable person in my life. And so I have shared him, a little bit, with all of you on this Pearl Harbor Day. Take a moment to remember all of those who have been important in your own life and he will have accomplished one more good thing in his. Mitakuye oyasin.
Tags: cemetery, death, family, funeral

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