By Rebekah Bachman
Two Old Women (Velma Wallis) is a tale based on a tribal legend passed on for many generations from mothers to daughters in the upper Alaskan Yukon River Valley. When I first read this little book, the message that struck a chord was that of loyal, unwavering friendship. Years later, now in a different season of life, I am touched by the strength and resilience of those considered “too old”.
Sa’ and Ch’idzigyaak were, as was customary, left behind to die as hunger and cold took a toll on their nomadic tribe. What follows is their journey of survival in the wilderness. These two old women remind me a bit of my own octogenarian mother, whose words and actions have been key in shaping who I have, and continue to, become. Her lasting faith, commitment to 57 years of marriage to my father, confidence in the value of education, unmatched work ethic, aversion to crudeness, lifelong support of the 4-H program and young people, tedious attention to grammar, strong conviction regarding the power of association and certainty that all food is better when well-done. While I don’t always agree with her views (especially in regard to well-doneness), I honor her for what she continues to model and pass on. This, I believe, is a tribute to all parents – that their children continue to carry on the best of them and abandon the less desirable fragments.
This fable is, in part, about the value our elders bring to our existence. It’s about fear and tenacity, pain and forgiveness, disregard and respect. As you read this moving book, your thoughts will be drawn to those more mature members in your circle who still have much to offer. I challenge all of us not to allow what has already been shared to go unappreciated and the things yet to be shared, to go untapped.
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