NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Friday February 3rd 2023

Keep citizen journalism alive!

Donatebutton_narrow

Sections

RETURNING 

Patrick Cabello Hansel

CHAPTER 26: PROMISES KEPT, PROMISES BROKEN

By PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL

Rules may be made to be broken, but breaking promises leads to generational devastation.  The promises made to the Dakota that were broken by the U.S. and the subsequent environmental and human disaster ring down through the generations.  We are part of a bigger web, one based on getting: getting as much land, money, power as is possible.  That is what motivates Brian Fleming, his “associates” and the powers that have permitted him to cause such damage.  He did not get here on his own.  He is the descendent of greed writ large.

Promises kept can have a rippling effect as well.  The promises Luz and Angel make to each other each day in their marriage—to sustain, love and protect each other and their children—also did not appear all of a sudden.  They are the legacy of promises made and kept by generations of ancestors.  Promises to sustain, love and protect—in spite of economic hardship, oppression, family breakup.  Their blood lines reach back to the native Nahuatl people who resisted the Spanish invasion. Even those forced to submit kept this promise: No matter what, I will survive, so that my children and my children’s children may one day thrive.

Somehow—don’t ask me how—our little family’s act of howling and dancing like animals transported them back to their present time and place.  They were in the cemetery, nearing midnight, on a moonless light. They saw that the gates were locked, and were thinking about how to scale the fence, when Angel felt something behind them. He turned his phone’s flashlight toward it.  He expected to see a human being or an animal, but instead it was a large oak tree, its brown leaves still plentiful in winter.

Why was I drawn to this tree?  he thought to himself.  What difference could it make?

What he didn’t know was that the oak tree had been planted generations before by a young girl named Agnes.  Yes, the same name as the elder who was now desperately trying to save their daughter Lupe.  Of course, he couldn’t have known that.  He couldn’t have known that as a young girl, Agnes had survived a milder case of polio, one that did not kill her, but left her unable to walk without crutches.  Many a child would have resigned themselves to a limited life, but Agnes was determined to spread joy wherever she could. Many of the large oaks in Phillips—and throughout Minneapolis—were planted by Agnes.  She learned how to select the best acorns, how to steward them through winter, and with her trusty crutches and a love for streetcars, she populated the city with these beautiful trees.

Had people paid attention, and had there been a storyteller of the one who immortalized Johnny Appleseed, all of us might have heard about Agnes the Acorn Whisperer.  Be that as it may, the oak tree gave Angel an idea: mighty oaks grow from small acorns.  They had last seen their precious little Acorn Lupe at the daycare across the street from the cemetery.  They would retrace their steps starting there.  Perhaps there was a clue they had missed.

Angel helped Luz over the fence, and they somehow passed little Angelito over as well. As Angel reached the top of the fence, he turned back toward the cemetery and “saw” something move.

That was not a tree, he thought.  Whether it was a human or an animal I don’t know, but I’m glad it ran the other way.

There were no cars on Cedar at that hour, so the three of them held hands and ran across the street…

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2022 Alley Communications - Contact the alley