Adam Eagle Creek’s wife Evelyn Atsila, after giving birth to five babies in rapid succession died in childbirth with the sixth one. They named him Geronimo, after Evelyn’s grandfather. And now there were six. Three boys and three girls. The oldest, was now 18 years old and a girl. They had named her Adama after her father. When faced with six kids and no wife, Adam was in a fix. He had a wrecking and reconstruction business to run. With no one to carry the load at home, his only contribution was to whimper and feel sorry for himself. He had with all the good intentions in the world created a large family without thinking of possible consequences. In desperation and panic mode, he told Adama she had to become the mother figure for all of the surviving kids. Not yet ready to leave her siblings stranded with her grief-stricken father, Adama stepped into the breach.
On Saturdays, the one night of the week her dad was at home, Adama had gotten into a routine of visiting her Aunt Chloe Ann in Clayton, Washington. Adam Eagle Creek’s sister was living alone in a small house left to her when her husband had been killed in a logging accident. For Adama getting away for even one night was a life-saving event. Meeting other people or going to a movie relieved her from the strain of being a daughter/housewife and a surrogate mother for her five siblings. Being able to stay overnight in Clayton was a much-needed guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, when her grandmother had passed away during childbirth, she was one month into to her first pregnancy.
It was late that Fall when Adama first realized that one night of fun and relaxation had resulted in a big problem for her. With no husband and no chance of finding one in sight, the threat and promise of bearing a child seemed insurmountable. When her father found out, he got busy looking for any port in a storm. What he found was Bruno Grimaldo, one of his nightly drinking buddies. Grimaldo was a 45-year-old, butcher, baker and ice cream maker and Adam made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Bruno had never married and even though he knew that he wasn’t the expected child’s father, after a night of extra heavy drinking, he reluctantly agreed to marry Adama before the birth. The bad news was that Bruno had an insatiable thirst for Dago Red, Thunderbird or any bottle or can that was already open. Edna Grimaldo was born shortly after the arranged marriage.
Ten years of daily alcoholic trouble was more than enough. Adama, after consulting with Edna divorced Bruno. Taking Edna with her, she moved back to the reservation settling in again with her dad and the rest of her surviving now adult siblings. With most of them either married or just shacking up and populating the house, it wasn’t an ideal situation but might have been manageable on a short-term basis. Everyone was just waiting and jockeying for space to see who would leave first. Nobody bothered to let Edna know that Bruno wasn’t her biological father.
For Edna living in close relationships with her aunts and uncles and a goodly number of cousins only slightly younger than her self, the formative years that followed were a horrendous mix of good, bad and indifferent. At age eighteen Edna, hoping for something a little better, moved out of the still growing Eagle Creek clan. After a whirlwind courtship she decided to marry Roger Running Eagle. Roger was already in the Marines and an Avionics Tech crewmember of a Helicopter Squadron. His unit had been assigned to serve as advisors to the South Vietnamese Army. The helicopter Roger Running Eagle was in crashed due to a mechanical failure. Before the war officially began, Roger was killed without ever having met the enemy and his remains were never recovered. As tragic and useless as Roger’s death was, it helped Edna escape the fever and congestion of the Eagle Creek household. Relief trumped grief.
Facing the reality of her situation Edna Running Eagle knew she didn’t want repeat her mother’s go back home pattern. After burying her short-term husband, newly widowed Edna decided to use her military survivor benefits and go to college and earn a nursing degree.