I am forever grateful to my parents, Jake and Judy Swamp. Without their guidance and encouragement and values, I doubt I would have this website to talk about them. I am thankful for all their hard work in Akwesasne, within the Mohawk Nation, the Confederacy and in the world they travelled.
My mother was always there and was the constant presence in my life and where home was. I grew up always watching my mother be someone who wouldn't back down if it was something she believed in, and especially if it was in defense of what was right. I watched her stand by her window and give her thanks, I watched her always willing to give a helping hand to anyone in need. No one would go without if she was around. She was also the one to correct me when I got off track, but also allowed me to make my mistakes when there was a lesson to be learned and didn't judge me for them. I learned compassion and love for my people from my mother.
From my father, I missed out on having a close relationship because he was a busy man. He was a leader, he was an ironworker, and I was just shy and hadn't grown into my words yet. By the time I was ready, he had died and my words were frozen in time. I worked on myself for awhile to deal with this loss and still longed for a way to communicate with him. We had conversations about healing Indigenous people, our people, but we were on opposite ends of a spectrum. I just wished he was around to see what I meant by starting with an individual, who awakens their spirit, and that spreads to the family, and that family fire grows and eventually out into the community. Ultimately, as long as I am doing my part to help, that's all that matters now. The program I use has a way to communicate things unresolved. So I've said my peace. From my father I learned to never give up and try! Always try, because nothing is accomplished without effort.
So niawen, to my parents for being who they were so that I could grow into the person I became.
My brother Andy died April 3, 2018 after a long illness. It was watching him fight for his life, that inspired me to fight for mine. I started to focus on my own health issues, do what scares me, because facing fears is easier than having regrets. He had a bucket list that he started to "tick" things off because he knew his time left here was limited. One of them was going fishing for muskies. We didn't actually go fishing for muskies, but we did go out on the water. It was a good day. Between 4 of us, only one little baby fish was caught. But we had a lot of fun and I was just happy that we were able to get him out on the water.
Watching my brother fight for his life was probably the most heart breaking thing I ever experienced. I'm glad I was there for him as much as I could be. And even though knowing something is coming, you are never prepared for when it gets here. There is a whole in our family where he used to be and I miss him every day. He taught me how Not to Go. I don't want a bucket list. I want a life, well lived with no regrets.