The Triple Destiny
What an awesome day December 21 began as; it was the first
day of Christmas Vacation, Winter Solstice (the first day of
winter and the New Year’s Eve in the Old Ways), and my thirteenth
birthday. We’d also had our first good snow the night before so I
decided to go up the hill after I finished my chores.
“Mom, I’m going sledding, Okay?” I said sticking my head in the
door of the kitchen where she was icing my birthday cake while Katie
sat at the table working on another of her special projects.
“Don’t come in!” my little sister screamed.
“Mommy, don’t let him in, he’ll see his present.”
“Hush, Katie. He’s not going to see anything” she said turning
towards me and motioning me to stop at the door.
* * * * * *
After I’d ridden my sled for a while I sat down on a hollow log to
watch some squirrels scurrying after each other over by the tree line.
I’m not sure how long I’d been sitting there before I heard what
sounded like a woman calling my name.
I listened, in a moment it came again.
“TK, go home, now! There’s a storm brewing and trouble’s riding
on the wind with it. Go now before it’s too late.” I didn’t wonder until
later where the warning had come from or why she had called me TK,
I just grabbed my sled and quickly started home.
The wind was picking up fast. The sky seemed to almost change
instantly to a dark foreboding grey, shadows lengthened and a thick
fog rolled in. I gratefully turned on the flash light Mother always
insisted I bring.
By the time I reached the house the snow was blowing so hard I
could barely see beyond the beam of my light; as I crossed the yard a
chill went down my spine and I was filled with a sense of foreboding. I
ran up on the porch and slammed the door behind me.
“I’m home.” I yelled stripping off my boots and my wet, frozen,
coat and gloves at the door.
“Where is everyone?” I yelled again running up the stairs to
There was no answer. Then it hit me: the van wasn’t in the driveway
where it should have been and the house was dark except for one
light in the front room. The house was quiet, too quiet. Frantically I
ran back down the stairs to the kitchen just as the phone rang.
“Trebor, its Mom. Thank God you’re home.” I heard when I picked
it up on the second ring.
“Your Dad and I are at the hospital with Nana. She’s had a
Stroke and the doctors are not sure she’s going to make it. Katie’s at
The Pearson’s and Dad will be home as soon as the blizzard stops.
I’m staying here so Nana won’t be alone if she wakes up. I’m glad
“We were worried with the storm coming in so quickly and all. I’m
sorry about your birthday, Honey. We’ll make it up to you, I promise.”
“Don’t worry Mom, I can take care of myself, like Nana said, I’m a
man now. “
I turned up the heat to get rid of the icy chill that filled the house
then went through every room turning on lights to dispel the heavy
gloom. Back downstairs I knocked on Nana’s door out of habit. Going
in, I picked up her medicine pouch and the eagle feather she kept
beside her bed then headed for the kitchen to make a sandwich.
Later I went back upstairs to get my pillow and a quilt and lay
down on the couch; if the phone rang or someone came home I
wanted to be right there. I thought about opening the presents that
were sitting on the table beside my cake – after all – it was my birthday,
but decided against it. That’s what a kid would do and I wasn’t a
kid anymore, besides those things just didn’t seem as important to me
as they had this morning.
I spent a restless night waiting to hear something. I’d doze off and
have the weirdest dreams then wake up suddenly, thinking I’d heard
the phone ring or someone talking. A few times I thought I heard
the same voice that I’d heard on the hill and once I thought I heard
Nana. Somehow I made it through the night though, and shortly after
daylight I heard the van pulling up the drive.
“Help your Mother, Son. She needs you.” Dad said as he went by
me to put Katie down on the couch.
After I’d gotten Mother inside, I helped her get her coat off. Then
I ran upstairs to their room to get her some slippers, a sweater, and a
warm blanket while Dad made her a cup of coffee and got her medicine
out of the cabinet.
Back downstairs I stopped outside Nana’s door and listened for a
moment. I’m not sure what I expected but it definitely wasn’t the sensation
of despair and hate I felt accompanied by a low rasping breathing
that seemed to be coming from inside her room.
“Not now. Go to your Mother, she needs you,” came the voice in my
In the living room Dad put the blanket over Mother’s lap and
handed her sweater to her. Then leaning down and brushing his lips
against her chestnut hair he whispered something before leading a
giggling Katie into the kitchen. After they’d gone Mother patted the
couch beside her and motioned for me to sit down, I thought I knew
what was coming and I didn’t want to hear it.
“What are these doing out here?” she asked handing me the pouch
and eagle feather I had brought out of Nana’s room the night before.
I shrugged my shoulders and opened my mouth to tell some half
– truth about wanting to feel close to her. Instead I found myself
recounting the feelings of unease and fear when I walked in the house
last night and about the woman’s warning in the woods and how
when I walked past Nana’s room I just got this feeling that I had to
take those things to keep them safe from something really bad. I told
her about the dreams and about hearing Nana tell me to;
“Guard the Teachings and follow The Old Ways.” Then I told her
about what happened in the hall a little while ago.
“Wait! Do you know what time you thought you heard Nana? Are
you sure that’s what she said?”
“About 4:00, I saw the clock when I got up to get a drink and I
had just lain back down. Why”
“Your Grandmother died this morning a little after 4:30. She only
woke up for a few minutes and one of the last things she said was ‘Tell
Prince Triand to follow the Old Ways; they’ll keep him safe.”
Dad came in the room just then carrying the cake; he was shadowed
by Katie pulling her wagon which was filled with presents and
everything else needed for a belated birthday celebration.
After the cake and ice cream, which no one except Katie wanted
much of; Dad put the packages that had been left on the table the
evening before into Mother’s lap.
“Mine first! Mine first!” Katie yelled bouncing up and down on
the couch and waving a smudged piece of paper she gripped in her
“All right, Brat,” I laughed, grabbing her up to give her a hug.
I smoothed the paper out on the coffee table expecting to see
one of her usual colorful scribbles but was surprised to find it was a
drawing I actually recognized as a map of some kind.
“It’s the In-Between land. Nana helped me with it before the White
Lady came with the snow. She showed me where to put the dark,
they’re the bad parts, the pretty colors are for the other people where
they still are, and she gave me her writing book in case I forgot. “
“She said every – every? I forget what she called it but she meant
you – needs a map so you don’t get lost, or killed, or something.”
“Katie it’s beautiful, but do you still have Nana’s writing book? The
one she gave you so you could remember everything?” Mother asked
looking over my shoulder.
“Nope, Nana’s gone. She don’t need it no more. She said give it to
TK when I was through, it was his now. I put it in his room – like she
told me. Where’d Nana go Mommy?”
“Here’s your other present Trebor, it’s just from me, not me and
Nana. Open it. I made it all by myself.”
Katie’s other gift was some stones and other things she had collected
along the creek bed and painted then glued on a piece of card
board around a picture of herself. At the bottom she’d drawn some
squiggly blue lines, a house and a heart.
“I love it Katie. I’m going to put it on my shelf so it doesn’t get
messed up and every time I look at it I’ll think of you.”
Mother handed me two packages from her and Dad. The first held
an intricately hand carved wooden box with a lock and key. The letters
TWK (Trebor Wambeeska Kearney) had been burned into the top.
Inside was a pearl handled pocket knife wrapped in six handkerchiefs
that had the same three initials inside an eagle feather painstakingly
embroidered in the corner of each one.
“Thank You,” was all I could manage before grabbing my cup
and trying to swallow around the huge lump that was catching in
The other gift actually brought tears to my eyes which I quickly
tried to hide. It contained a bedroll, a compass, a bow and a beaded
sheaf of arrows along with a pair of moccasins and a traditional Sioux
“You’ll need these for your manhood initiation and vision quest
in a few months,” Dad said pointing to the leggings and shirt. “Your
Grandmother told Mother who to call to have them made for you”
“I think I need a cup of coffee.” Mother said suddenly reaching for
her cane as Dad helped her up.
“That sounds great.” Dad said as he followed her out.
A few minutes later when my parents walked back into the living
room Mother’s eyes were red and swollen. She reached over to pick
up the Medicine Pouch and eagle feather she had left lying on the
“A couple of months ago Nana told me, if something happened to
her before your birthday, I should make sure you received these. She
also said there is a letter in her bedside table you are to have which
will explain a lot of things but that you ‘re not to open it until after
your Initiation Ceremony is completed.”
“I guess she gave them to you herself after all, didn’t she?” she said
turning back to look at me as she and Dad went up the stairs together.
I turned on the cartoons for Katie and gathering up my things followed
them up the stairs to my room where I stayed most of the day.