My Auntie Pudden and Uncle Eep

She and I butted heads every time. And that did not define our relationship. Because she is who I went to.

She was one of the first community health aides in Alaska. Years later, when I was 26, I went yo her because I was struggling emotionally.

I was working as the board secretary at the Norton Sound Health Corporation. And I loved all the board members from the 15 villages and their families.

Then people started dying. Family members of the board folks that I grew to love – and their pain reverberated through me and bounced around the walls of my skin – and I could not shake it off.

So I went to see my Aunt Pudden. She had an oxygen tank and tubes all over the apartment – resembled a vacuum cleaner and the vacuum cord strung around.

My Uncle is like my dad. They just know how to disappear. I remember asking my Aunt – how did she do it? How did she handle the grief being a health aide.

I do not remember if she answered me directly. I do not remember the answer. Damn if there was one, that is one I would live to recall.

I do remember her telling me that through all the years she and Uncle were together, she never truly believed he loved her.

Because she felt unlovable and did not believe it was true.

That I remember clearly and I was shocked.

She ssid she finally realized how much he loved her when she got terminally sick.

He had the doctors teach him every single pill she needed, what for, how often and put them in a pill container-organizer.

She was always vibrant and talented and maybe she thought that if she was not all that she would lise his interest.

But she is his favorite person to rile up. Their romance was so precious. All the things she didn’t like about herself, were the parts he loved the most.

And I know this because he would say some smartass thing and get her cussing him out, and he would look at me with a twinkle in his eye, the happiest smirk, and wink. He loved her feistiness.

Me too.

Published by Trudy Sobocienski

My blog, "Beyond Leadership" is a creative place to share my personal feelings and thoughts while working in leadership roles for a variety of Alaska Native organizations, both for and not-for profit entities. An incredible leader and mentor of mine once asked while we were in Washington, DC, "What happened to you between the ages of 7-10 that motivated you to serve in a native leadership capacity". I was struck by that poignant thought and as such, include actual entries from my mother and my diaries beginning in the early 1970's. I enjoy sharing these excerpts because it captures the parallels she and I were experiencing throughout life, from two separate worldviews. Hers as a young mother of four and mine as her eldest child. I have never came across a book on leadership that lays bare a leaders personal feelings, thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams they were experiencing. So for me, my goal is two-fold: 1. Share the incredible life my parents created for my siblings and I growing up in remote Alaska; and, 2) Sharing my humanity, through my personal diaries and journals, while serving as the youngest-ever President/CEO for the Alaska Native Health Board. There are passages that will include significant policy issues I was working on throughout my career and travels. There are many more passages that do not. I cannot speak for my mom's passages, because I am reading them as I share them here, with you; with her permission of course.

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