When The World Turns White
Last updated 6/23/2022 at 3:21pm
Una was a beautiful Cherokee girl. Her name meant "Remember," and she did remember the smallest details of not only her own life, but the details of those who lived in the green valley that had been the home of the Cherokee since the beginning of time.
Una remembered all the battles and births and deaths. She remembered the best and the worst of times. She remembered everything.
Una was smaller than the other girls her age, and she had beautiful hair that hung to her waist. Everyone admired her beautiful hair. Sometimes she let it hang loose and blow in the wind, sometimes she braided it and strung beads in it, and sometimes she wore flowers in her hair.
Una married a good man and had five children-three boys and two girls. Her daughters were named Woya, which meant "Dove" and Kamama, which meant "Butterfly." They had their mother's beautiful, long hair.
Una grew old. She was blind, her eyesight was gone, and she could only see shadows. She was getting feeble. It was hard for her to walk; she was giving up.
Una told her children that she would die soon; that when the world turned white with snow and her hair turned white from age, she would die. She told her daughters that they had to tell her when her hair turned white so she would know when it was her time to die.
The girls loved their mother, and even though there were streaks of white in their mother's hair, they told her it was as black and shiny as it ever was. They would gently comb her hair and braid it and tell her how beautiful it was.
Una would smile and say that she must still have time to live because she wouldn't die until her hair was snow white.
Una's memory was as good as ever; she still told stories about the ancestors and family. Although Una's memory was excellent, she only remembered the good things about people, and she never remembered the bad things they'd done.
The children in the tribe would beg her to tell them stories about the animals and why the moon changed its shape and why the leaves on the trees changed color.
And still, every day one of Una's daughters would comb her hair and tell her it was beautiful.
"I thought my hair would be white by now," Una would say, and pat her hair with her wrinkled hands.
"Not yet, Mother," her daughters would say, "Not yet."
Una's daughters didn't tell their mother when her hair was as white as snow.
Since Una could no longer walk, she couldn't go outside and didn't know there was snow on the ground. She didn't know the world had turned white.
More time passed and Una was very old, the oldest person in the tribe.
"Surely my hair is the color of snow," she would say, "Surely it is time for me to die."
But her daughters would say, "Not yet, Mother, you can not go until your hair is white."
Una lived to be one hundred years old, when finally, she fell asleep and was gone.
Her daughters' love had kept her alive for many years. If Una had known winters had come and gone and that her hair had been snow white for years, she would have given up years earlier. Una died and most of her stories and legends died with her, but some of her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren remembered her stories and passed them on.
Once there was a woman named Una, which means "Remember" and she had beautiful long, black hair and she told wonderful stories.
All of us have wonderful stories. We have histories that no one else has; we have knowledge that no one else has. We need to share our stories with other people before our hair is snow white and we run out of time. No one else can tell our stories . . . only we can tell our stories.
Tell your stories; share your memories before your world turns white.
White hair is a crown of glory. (Proverbs 16:31, MEV)
Crying Wind is the author of Crying Wind and My Searching Heart, When the Stars Danced, and Thunder in Our Hearts, Lightning in Our Veins.