Moving words from a friend of Gutsy Broads, Tommy Cummings:

Thinking of my mom, Mildred Cummings, today.

I wondered whether she would’ve joined those who marched in support of women today. Of course she would, moreso in spirit than presence. My mom was a tough cookie. Being of Native descent, she had the additional obstacle of years of racial prejudice, including a boarding school stay in which she wasn’t allowed to speak Muscogee Creek. Though they were 24 years apart in age, she unconditionally supported my father, Thomas, including providing hospice for him when Alzheimer’s decimated him physically. Relatives have told me that she couldn’t have kids, but she embraced me as her own after I was adopted.

She worked tirelessly for our tribe, at times using her money to help elders who needed aid but didn’t have the paperwork to qualify and working after hours to take care of their needs when their own kids wouldn’t help.

Like I said, she was tough. She seemed to be made of iron at times. She once helped me mow our 1-acre yard, but hit some bailing wire that penetrated her ankle and wrapped around bone. A few tetanus shots later, she was back at it. She had a quick wit. And a quick temper when I got out of hand or made a bad grade. I’m not sure of the degree of her education, but she demanded that I make good grades and stay out of trouble, which meant no smoking, drinking or cussing … or else. And I wasn’t about to test the “or else.”

She could butcher a hog or wring a chicken’s neck without flinching. She could jump onto a horse in its stride like a cowgirl. But she was feminine as well and dressed in bright polyester pants suits and colorful cowboy boots and wore turquoise.

In the end, she gave cancer all it wanted. The day she died, an intense dust devil dropped from the sky and destroyed the concrete well house that pumped water from our ponds. She was recovering from another stroke, but she said the dust devil was a sign that cancer had called in the big guns.

Mom would’ve been 100 years old this week. Regardless of gender, she was the strongest person I’ve ever known.

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