My Father,sister Fawn and me (1978).
As far as I can remember, my father "Frank Big Bear" was a great inspiration for me growing up. I thought the world of him. Giving us unconditional love no matter how rough it got. We always had our father's attention with love and moral support. Making sure we ate three meals a day. Making sure we were clean along with our clothes. Keeping our visits with the Doctor and dentist. Taking us to the zoos and letting us on some of the rides, such as the Merry- Go -Around. Reading us bedtime stories and being a clown with humor. I believe my father was about twenty-five years old or so. It was very hard on him because he was a single father. To me, he was "Super Dad"
Watching him draw and paint was fascinating to me. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up. I wanted to be a great artist and a cab driver. I took to being an artist very well. I decided not to be a cab driver as I saw how much my father was drained and fatigued coming home each night from driving cab. Unfortunately, he was robbed multiple times while on duty. It scared me to lose my father and I was scared away from ever driving cab. Driving cab was a everyday situation just so he could take care of us. I'm still scared to this day for his life and safety. I think he's been driving for thirty years or so. Minneapolis is just too dangerous these days.
He introduced me to the Twin Cities Art Museums. I really took a liking to the Arts right away. I first went to the Institute of Arts in Minneapolis. There was an exhibition going on with knights in beautiful intricate shining armour on fake horses which were also dressed up with armour. I really got scared and ran out of the room the fist time. They reminded me of humanoid robots ready for battle from another planet. I eventually got the courage to go in. After that exhibition, we went home and I made weapons out of scrap wood from the garbage, along with a garbage can lid for a shield. I took some of my father's paint and painted a "Star" on my shield. I was very creative with the little stuff I had. My father was the driving force behind my imagination. He always encouraged my art. Being a good father was very important to him. He knew Fawn and I went through a lot during our times with our mother and foster homes. He wasn't going to let that happen to us again.
My learning disability was a cause for concern when I was in grade school. My father worked with me on my home work and a teacher from school would come in to help me twice a week. My father and teacher were wonderful but both were distracting to me.
Every time I was with my father, all I wanted to do is make art and the teacher was beautiful. She made me blush and giggle when I looked at her. I took a liking to beautiful women ever since. I think the biggest problem was my speech. It was hard for me to say certain words. It bothered me when my teachers didn't understand me.
I believed this went on during grade school and through my early year of high school.
My father struggled to take care of us as a single father for three years. It was when I was eight years old that his alcoholism got the best of him. He was starting to go out to the bars and bring back some of the parties to our home. It reminded me of my mother as she did the same. Fawn and I would wake up two or three in the morning and join the party. Playing and teasing my father's drunk friends. Again, I thought this was a way of life for us. Growing up with alcoholism around us was a typical way of life for us Native American Indians. There were some early mornings when we woke up and saw my father passed out on the couch. I thought it was disturbing and at times funny. I remember one morning I started to sketch him with my color crayons as he was passed out. I would color with my darker crayons and draw flies on him. Fawn was so worried about him all the time. I didn't know what to think. We would carry on with our lives when these days came. Fawn and I pretty much started to take care of ourselves when my father's alcoholism began to get worse. My father was a loving, caring and passionate person. When he was drunk he was even nicer. We rather see him sober. He never abused us. Always being a goof-ball and making sure we were well fed. We just didn't go anywhere fun as much as we used too. My teacher would send notes back with me for my father, stating I needed a bath and some clean clothes. I would never give the notes to my father because I didn't want him to be upset at me. We were starting to become neglected. I believe his parenting skills were starting to fade away with his addiction.
My father eventually gave us up to our grandmother. My father just couldn't take care of us anymore. It was heart breaking at first but the feeling soon faded away with my grandmother's love and attention. I'm sure my father was devastated by this decision, but it was the best for us and he was only three miles away. The cab company where he worked was just one block away from my grandmother's. Which was very convenient. Fawn and I would go wait for him after work so we can see him. My father was still the greatest. He really never went anywhere. I think he just needed some time to deal with himself.
Although my home life growing up with my dad would be considered unconventional, and to some perhaps neglect. To me he is my dad, he fought to get Fawn and I back from our terrible life with our mom and foster homes. We lived on love and survival. Most importantly, love. I'm very thankful and fortunate to have him as my father. He will always be the greatest mentor of all.