Michael awoke to the smell of wood burning stoves that heated Nooksack tribal homes in the village. He sat up and tried to pull his thoughts together as he regained consciousness from a deep sleep. It had been 4 months since Angela died. He had gotten into a nice routine being back on tribal lands. It was healing after Angela's long illness and gave him time to think.
His trailer was provided by the tribal elders for the purpose of housing him while he completed his research on Nooksack language and customs. As a guest on tribal lands he had enjoyed having access to the council and tribal elders as he compiled data regarding language, customs, and social norms. These were carefully cataloged and presented back to the tribe and for use in teaching tribal history and documenting language for the future generations.
He was also presenting a professional paper on his findings in January to colleagues in his field at a professional conference. His research here was coming to an end. Other projects were looming large.
He felt a sense of loss every time he considered leaving the tribal lands for good. Sey Canate was the chief's son and probably Mike's best friend in the world. They had been friends for nearly 7 years during Mike's graduate and post graduate work. Sey was solid as a rock, funny, and hardworking. He provided endless amusements to break the monotony of his research during the early years before Angela became ill. And then during Angela's illness, Sey was quietly in the background providing support, making sure Mike ate, and making sure he rested. Sometimes when Mike became morose he would drag him to some villager's home that needed to be rebuilt. They would hammer away for hours, day after day. Mike would return to Angela's bedside each evening to sit with her parents.
Michael dressed warmly because temperatures were in the high 30's. The tribal lands were in a hilly forested area near the Canadian border. He stepped outside the trailer and started heading toward the village. In the distance he spotted Sey swinging an axe to split firewood. He hurried to greet his friend.
As Mike approached Sey looked back and said "Morning Dickhead".
Laughing Michael asked "Dickhead? I knew I was a bastard, but dickhead? Why am I a dickhead Sey?"
Sey answered, "Because you did not congratulate us properly."
The axe swung another 4 times while neither man said anything. Mike knew better than to rush Sey on any subject, so he waited. "You know my brother comes back today. His studies are finished. He will serve the tribe as a medicine man."
Kenny was not actually not Sey's brother. He was a nephew. Sey's brother, Jon, was killed when he was eighteen by a police officer. It was a tragic story. Jon had fathered a baby (Kenny) with a white girl. They were speeding on his motorcycle to the hospital for Sandra to give birth, when they were pulled over.
Sandra got off the bike, holding her belling and breathing through contractions. She was told to back away by the police officer. Jon was extremely annoyed and became belligerent, mouthing off. He wanted to get Sandra to the hospital. Jon reached inside his jacket pocket, which took the officer by surprise. The officer pulled his gun and fired, killing Jon instantly.
An investigation later found all Jon had in the pocket was his wallet with 20 bucks and his driver's license. Already in labor, and now in shock, his girlfriend Sandra was taken to the hospital where she had Kenny by an emergency C-section. She became septic and suffered from seizures, never recovering and dying several days later. The baby was raised by the tribe, primarily by chief and his wife, his biological grandparents.
Although Kenny was their grandchild, the chief affectionately called him "my little son". He was very beloved by the family and by the tribe.
Mike knew from talking to Sey Kenny was now a licensed nurse practitioner and would return to tribal lands to provide routine medical care for the 2000 tribal members, compliments of the Department of Interior.
Mike was puzzled. "I'm a dickhead because your brother is coming home?"
Sey stops chopping and turns around and looks at Mike like he's an idiot.
Confused Mike waits for Sey to explain. Sey says one word, "Baby". Now Mike is very puzzled. What, a baby?
They had both had had vasectomies together 5 years ago for different reasons. Michael had not wanted to impregnate my wife. At the time she was misdiagnosed with manic depressive disorder, before doctors discovered the tumor growing in her brain stem. She had been very hyper sexual at the time, and getting hard to handle with regards to birth control.
Michael not wanted her to become pregnant without resolving her medical situation. Michael already had a premonition that her situation was grim. So he went with Sey and got the vasectomy. Sey is the only person who knows about the procedure. Michael never told Angela or her parents about the vasectomy. He just quietly slipped away with Sey and had it done. Sey wanted to have one because of a genetic disorder in his family. He was tested and found to carry the dominant gene for the disorder.
Michael prompted Sey, "Baby?????? Come on Sey, tell."
Sey stopped chopping and faced Mike seriously. "Kenny has agreed to provide us with his baby juice to conceive a child".
Mike processed the information. This explained why Sey's started the conversation with an announcement about Kenny coming home. Things were starting to make sense. Michael uttered "Wow, Sey."
Mike realized he has not seen Kenny in 5 or more years. Between Kenny being in college and Mike's periodic intervals on the reservation, they had just not overlapped.
"How old is Kenny now?" Sey answered, "Twenty five."
Realizing a response on my part was appropriate regarding the news of a baby, Michael said "So I'm going to be an Uncle?" Michael then gleefully punched Sey's shoulder.
Sey answers "Yep. Uncle Dickhead".
Mike helped Sey carry the firewood into the house. Tasha was cooking breakfast and pouring coffee.
Sey took the cup of coffee handed to him and told Tasha "Honey say hello to Uncle Dickhead". Tasha laughed smacking at her husband, "So you told him?" Sitting down with his coffee Mike asked the couple "When did you decided to do this?" He also wondered why Sey never said anything to him during one of their 40 fishing trips over the past 4 months.
Sey sat down in a more serious tone facing Mike. "I had asked Kenny a few years ago to have the genetic test. He wanted to finish school first. When he finally graduated and knew he was coming home for good, he did it. He called last night with the test results and agreed to donate. I had to tell Tasha, my parents, and then of course, Uncle Dickhead, in that order".
Smiling again, he picked up his coffee and sipped it. The three of sat in companionable silence thinking of the coming baby.