By JOANNE LABELLE
“When someone has a lot of stories, you don’t tell people because they think you’re a storyteller.” Bill Palmquist, 77, does have a lot of stories to tell, though, and sitting across from him at his dining room table, you see the effect a lifetime of holding those stories close to his heart can do.
His wife Marie, 75, describes a time, just a few years back, when she and her husband of 54 years were watching a movie, Where the Spirits Live, a graphic story detailing the abuse native children endured while living in residential schools.
“I looked over and saw Bill crying, I have never seen him cry. That was the first time I had heard about his residential experience,” she says.
From the time Bill was five until he was 11 or 12, he lived in a residential school where he experienced and saw horrific things. He still carries the scars on his wrists from the whippings he’d receive from the whipping stick. Whippings, he said, came out of nowhere at times.
Bill’s father, who was Swedish, died of stomach cancer when Bill was eight. His mother lived until she was 80 before succumbing to cirrhosis of the liver.
As we examine a surprising number of black and white photos from his childhood, Bill seems very happy. He remembers names of almost every person in each photo and has a story to go along with each one as well. Bill enjoys his memories of making bows and arrows and trapping squirrels and muskrats along the east shoreline of Hudson’s Bay as a boy. But then he grew up.
“I joined the army as a way to survive and I looked at it as a job. I hadn’t eaten in four days, I was hungry, and they [the army] would give you an advance,” says Bill.
Bill can tell stories of what it was like to be in the army and how he kept the fact he was native from both his wife and his new mother-in-law for the first two to three years of his marriage. “It may have been longer,” he says laughing.
Even when he tells about his time in residential schooling, you start to understand how this man managed to go through a life that could break the strongest man. He believes in the power of laughter and moving on.
“If you don’t forget and move on, it will make you bitter,” he says.
His wife admits at times when he does tell his stories or even when he would come home and tell her for the 25th time he was fired, she didn’t know if he was joking or telling the truth.
Bill isn’t a negative man and doesn’t like negative stories. When asked to discuss the racism he felt and experienced growing up, he shrugs his shoulders and smiles as if to say he has already forgiven those people so there is no need to discuss it any further.
But there was racism, and he did experience it.
He tells the story of being fired 34 times in two years as if it’s an experience we all go through. In one story, the manager came right out and said he was firing him just because he was Indian, but Bill tells the story in a way that doesn’t make you feel angry or sorry for him.
He still manages to put a smile on your face as you munch on the cheese and crackers his wife put out for you.
Being ashamed of his own heritage and culture stayed with him throughout his life and affected him more than maybe he even realized.
His son, who asked not to be named, admits that as he growing up he wasn’t allowed to speak about their culture and felt a disconnection with his father.
“I didn’t understand, growing up, why I wasn’t allowed to speak about certain things. There were a lot of secrets, but looking back, I understand more now why he [my father] was trying to protect me.”
Bill’s son had a yearning to uncover the truth about his family, however. His own investigations led to him and his father going back to Hudson’s Bay in 1991.
“I saw the house my father lived, where he slept. There was pride in that house. No words could describe what I was feeling. But if he touched me, he would have gotten burnt [because] I was so radiant.”
He describes the relationship with his father today as “very good.”
“I couldn’t ask for anything better. It’s the best it’s ever been. Now when we pack, we pack together. We don’t have separate suitcases,” says his son.
His wife may still carry some bittersweet memories and admits she stayed with Bill through the rough times, while questioning if she made the right decision to marry him. But after 54 years of marriage, Bill says, laughing, “There must be love in there somewhere.”
On almost any given day, you can find Bill downstairs working on his art, which he taught himself as a child.
He humbly shows off his dream catchers, decorative feathers, jewelry and beautiful etchings of eagles, horses and bears he burns onto a piece of pinewood using a handheld burner. Burning is a very time-consuming and lost art.
Palmquist says he started doing art again after he retired 11 years ago, admitting loneliness and boredom as the catalyst to his artwork.
When reflecting on his life, Palmquist says, he wouldn’t have changed a thing.
“I wouldn’t do one thing different. I would make the same mistakes again.”
Smiling and laughing, he continues, “I’m like my art. You may not see it at first, but you’ll understand it later.”
Но, "Песня на день рождения мамы скачать"в конце концов, мог же он все-таки влюбиться в Виргинию!
Ну что ж, перед таким искусным шпионом отпираться бесполезно.