This year I’m turning 47. I will be the same age my father was when he died of burn injuries suffered in a fire at our home.
As a child, I never knew who I might find sleeping on the couch when I’d wander from my bed into the front room each morning. It might be a man sleeping off a night of drinking, a woman and her children whose home was in dire need of basic repairs, or just a hitchhiker needing a meal and a warm blanket.
We lived on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in eastern Idaho where my father ministered at the local Episcopal Church. The tiny parish house that was our home sat alongside the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on the Shoshone-Bannock Indian Reservation.
My mother taught four-year olds at the Fort Hall Head Start program, and I was the youngest child, by eight years of three siblings. One older sister and two older brothers.
My dad, Father Charles Allen, had a great love for the Shoshone-Bannock Indian tribe and did his best to serve them in every way he could. As the priest of an evangelical church on the Reservation, his day might include visiting a woman from the church who’d been sick, preparing for Sunday services, tending the church grounds, or picking up a confused local who needed a good meal and a place to rest during a cold winter night.
There were only a few other “white” kids at the grade school I attended on the Reservation, but I was accepted right away and made friends easily. The color of our skin or the kind of house we lived in was less important than just having fun. Like my dad, I loved my American Indian friends, fully accepting them, and they fully accepting me.