Well, I continued writing even though I finished my 50,000 word book. I am letting that one rest while I work on my other ones. I started Conjure Man a year before I became ill with Wegener’s Granulomatosis. I stopped at about 10,000 words. I am back on the case. Starting again. I should have the first draft by the end of December.
This story is based in the deserts of southern Utah and northern Arizona. I have lived many years in Utah before I joined the Navy. I had a Navajo foster sister when I was growing up in Utah. (about 1969-1970). It was at the end of the era when children from the reservations were sent to other foster homes for a better education. Bertha was not being raised by her mother or father. It was a strange situation. Her step father (she called him father) was a tribal policeman on the Navajo reservation. He sent her away because he saw a lot of the problems that many of the young adults had on the reservation. He hoped that she could live a better life.
Bertha used to tell us stories about Squaw Dances, and Skinwalkers. She used to try to teach us Navajo words. She missed her home very much. One time when she lived with us, one of her friends sent her peyote. At the time, it cost a lot to have a phone. But, my parents called her stepdad to tell him the news. She wanted to go home.
He told her that no. She would not … He had been afraid that she was involved in a peyote church. She had turned 14 and was already talking about sex and drugs. After the summer that she stayed with us, she was sent to another family in Salt Lake City. She stayed with them one year. That was the last time I saw her.
Many years later, she came to visit my parents. She made Kachina dolls (Bertha was half-Hopi). She gave my mother the dolls in appreciation for the help that we had given her as a young girl.
Her part in my life added mystery. Maybe someday I will meet her again.