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Martha Louise Bradley

“Maggie” “Sey-ghe-gee” September 5 th , 1924 – June 2 nd , 2006 Rest in Peace

Martha Louise Bradley, a “lady” in everyone’s books including the gatekeeper of heaven himself.

My first memories of my mother go back to 1947, when I can remember how

close she was

to

her father, Olaf Nels Person

who

himself was

a

man

of

distinction, a man she adored as did all of us who had the fortune to know him

when he walked among us.

The real clear memories stretch back to when my sister, Gloria, passed away from complications in surgery at Bishop Rowe Hospital in Wrangell. I remember clearly the grief written across her face, and how she pulled from way deep and walked through the entire time surrounding that sad event. This was a person who has experienced her share of troubles, not to say she never had any good times --- but each go hand in hand.

  • I do remember how hard she struggled to keep her children together, and the

battles she faced and somehow won when it came to her kids. The long trip she

made when most of the children were very young in moving from Wrangell to Tacoma, and the loneliness she faced once she arrived in the Puget Sound area.

  • I have faced situations before that have scared me silly but I can’t imagine how

she felt arriving on a train with Herb, Hank, Walt, Anna, and Lorena all in tow, it

must have been absolutely terrifying.

  • I do remember very clearly my graduation day from High School and how proud

she was, moreover I think surprised that I had made it that far with all the shenanigans through my growing years….but she was still very proud.

There were periods of great joy in her life, many, many periods of great joy. Each and every one of her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren were very

special to her, right down to their own achievements and mostly just the fact that she was here to enjoy their birth and to be able to watch them become young adults. If only all of us could have the same opportunity.

She was never one to interfere in her children’s lives, enjoying their successes and suffering through their disappointments with stoic resolve and in the end never mentioning your failures most always welcoming you back into the family circle with hardly a word of adverse advice given. It had to have been difficult many of times to watch her children go through so much pain and suffering, in this way she reminded me of her father, who carried the same attributes as her when it came to not giving advice or as some call it Monday morning quarterbacking.

Don’t get me wrong when she believed something was really out of sorts, and it effected her children she was right on the front line either defending them or making sure they received their justice right or wrong. Always her children came first, whether it is an undue justice or one that was sorely needed --- she had no preference when it came to her children’s growing up and assisted each and everyone of them through their difficulties, minor or major.

At times during my younger years it appeared that at times she didn’t care and that I was cut adrift to fend for myself, now that I am older (not necessarily wiser) I look back and realize that was her way (as it should be) of letting me grow and mature into a young man. I can truthfully say I was never coddled or unjustly disciplined for any of my actions.

Some people look at an ordinary housewife with seven children and say that in

today’s world they didn’t have a real job, I challenge any person (much less a

strong virile man) to say

his

or

her job

in

the world

is

as

difficult.

The

responsibility alone would bring any grown CEO of any major company to his

knees. Where his or her job it to manage a company so that it doesn’t loose too

much money according to the latest Wall Street predictions,

a housewife’s

charges at the end of the day must become those CEOs and other workers who make the world spin as it does today. The job does have its good side and its sad side, she sits alone in grief at times, and at other times there is no other job in

the world that can bring such joy to a mother. One of the biggest joys being the end of a long nine-month journey in which you are boldly pulled or pushed into the world she has sheltered you from --- screaming and yelling you face the cold hard fact that you are alive. And with this she smiles at you with such pride, a pride that is coupled with a complete sense of accomplishment, and yet she knows her journey with you had just taken its first step.

Since that first time in May-1945, “Maggie” has begun that journey seven times during her life of eighty-one plus years. Journey’s that have been as diverse as the people who have claimed the highest office in the land. Each journey that began with a big ray of hope, and progressed from joy, to sadness, to despair and somehow always managed to make its way back to happiness and hope at the end of each day.

She not only fought for her children’s rights and beliefs, but for those rights of other people whose rights were being pushed aside in the name of progress and without regard for human dignity. As the Grand President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood in Alaska and a very active member, where she was party to many activities and events that led to the present state of affairs between the Native Alaskan and the world to which they have been assimilated. She did not do this for personal gratification or for personal recognition; she did it because she felt very deeply that they needed to be done, just a simple as that. She worked as a stenographer at her first ANB/ANS convention in Sitka, Alaska ---- and at the end of her life we find her as one of the oldest members of the Executive Committee of that very same Native organization…where she not only had a distinguished record but a long list of friends and fellow officers.

I remember the long hours she spent involved with that organization, organizing and running events that raised money to send representatives to Washington, D.C. to further the battle for the Alaska Native rights and the claim they lodged against the U.S. government in 1929, staying with the battle until it settlement in 1971. She understood the claims and yet in the end felt slighted when her and her children were not recognized as her being from the Alaskan village of Angoon --- this wore heavily on her mind until the end of her days 35 years after the settlement was affected. Please understand it wasn’t for her she was angry, but

for her descendants, whether it was her direct descendants or their children --- she wanted them to have a slice of what she experienced when she was growing up, on the land she loved and missed all her adult life. Although it is said you can never go back, she had felt that she had forfeited a slice of her heritage in a land she had fought so hard to obtain --- she wanted that legacy passed on to her children and her children’s children. This was never to be and she carried that wish for her descendants till the end of her physical being in this world.

She had a sense of humor that is hard to find in today’s race to the finish line by so many, somehow through all the hardship and heartache she found time to make the people around her smile and really appreciate her presence at a friendly party or a large public function…it was said that through her humor and her smile she always managed to be the “life” of the party. Like her father and mother before her, she never told an “off-color” story or joke, but always managed to reach into her physic and drag out a story that sometimes brought knee slapping appreciation or a quiet smile with a look in the recipient’s eyes that conveyed the thought that they were glad they had heard Martha spin a story.

From time to time you might have heard her voice her displeasure on a subject and yet somehow when she was done with this little exercise you knew that she wasn’t just talking to be talking but had done her research or heard more than both sides of the event in question, so you know it took the time to make her decision to arrive at such a statement --- realizing without question that she was usually “right on” in her proclamation. These times were rare moments and because of this they were usually received with the respect due them.

She was rarely someone that spoke behind anyone’s back, always facing the problem, human or event, head on and speaking her mind when she felt it was due, she had little patience with untruths and was quick to make everyone aware when she felt the truth was being stretched or misstated. Her personality in these matters was a direct result of her father, a man who never spoke harshly of anyone and who usually reserved his judgment long after he had examined the situation making sure that his judgment would not adversely affect any situation, be it a person or an event.

She had a very close relationship with her sister Ruby, a older sister that in Martha’s younger days nicknamed her “Maggie” ---- these two ladies as they grew older spent a tremendous amount of quality time together. They would exchange stories of their youth staying awake late into the wee hours of the morning, drinking tea laced with sugar and love. Throughout both their lives they remained the “closest” of friends and both shared a love for each other that is sometimes rare to find among siblings and families in today’s civilization --- a civilization that rushes to an uncertain future at a speed difficult to determine, whereas they smiled and laughed out loud recalling their earlier life as younger people. They had lived the good life and really enjoyed reliving those moments of a different world than we experience today. Till the end of her days, Maggie remembered those times with Ruby with a secret smile and a look of peace that only we as her children can hope for ---- she knew a love that would last forever and one day.

Although her father had a large impact on her life, it was her mother that not only brought the Native side of Martha to the party, another woman that believed deeply in the rights of man and always pushed, cajoled and whatever else for the education of Native children. Anna Hunter-Person (her mother), herself a Grand President of the ANS, not only believed in the rights of each individual but took active positions when it came to the overall condition of Native Alaska. Anna Hunter-Person’s son Walter A. Soboleff [her brother] (“T’aawuchun”) who was born on November 14 th , 1908 and is alive and well (97 years 7 months and one day) living in Juneau, Alaska also had a direct impact on Martha’s life, one that she would cherish till the end of her days. When the three of them, Walter, Ruby and Martha happened to share a cup of tea in the same room, you could be sure that laughter would ring through the room for long after they had departed. They were kind to each other, something that can’t be said about most families today, sadly.

Being a rather “stoic” individual at times it became difficult to really understand

her love

for

you

as

one

of

her own

---

it

was

plain that

she loved her

grandchildren and their children, but at times her children felt a little left out. They shouldn’t have, it wasn’t true. Each and everyone of hers enjoyed a special

place in her heart, and everyone of them can to this day say with pride and joy that they carry a bit of their mother in their day-to-day lives, some of these attributes are hard to see, but her influence as a quiet cheerleader can be found in each and everyone of them and will live on in their children and the generations and generations that follow.

To say she enjoyed life would be an understatement, although at times she experienced undue sadness and stress --- she always managed to reach far below the pain of such events and pull out a tiny ray of joy and laughter than brought her family through another period of duress. The ability to do so was one of her strong points, granted at times it took a little longer depending on the situation and how many of her children it effected. Albeit her house at 601 NW 88 th Street was no Taj Mahal there has been many a time it has rocked with laughter and joy hard to equal in the richest homes in the world. And this very same house was always open to sheltering her children in times of need, and as crowded as it became from time-to-time she always found away to make room for her children and their family’s. But make no mistake, it was her home and she (at all times) made the decisions and dictated its use in no uncertain terms, some of us found refuge in this home, and some of us found a permanent residence. The latter at times were found to displease some of the family, but those who found displeasure the most always were reluctant to voice this with any force to Mom. Deep down they knew it was her decision, a decision made for one of her own and it usually stood by merits she determined and that was the end of that!

In my closing I would like to say the following –

The dance of life is like a good dinner, a dinner that is to be enjoyed in courses and is not to be rushed. You build your passion for life in small bites here and there. As the music plays and the final crescendo comes at the end of the day, when all the candles are on their last flame and the light dims, your rhythm slows naturally --- it is then that nature comes upon you like little snowflakes from heaven as it claims you for your place in eternity.

There is so much more to be placed on record about our mother, this I will do at a later time, recording some of the events and some of the stories she used to spin from time to time. These are my personal feelings and I enjoyed sharing them with you, and to be sure will enjoy any additional writings that I compose concerning my mother’s effect on me and her life as it is perceived by myself and anyone else who would care to jot me a note to include them in future memories of;

Martha Louise Bradley “Maggie”

September 24 th , 1924 June 6 th , 2006 81 years and 8 months and 28 days

There is so much more to be placed on record about our mother, this I will
There is so much more to be placed on record about our mother, this I will

James L. Bradley “Kanook” May 22 nd , 1945 - ????

“May 23 rd , 2006/June 15 th , 2006 – Document written”

Father of Jamie Anne McGuire Kimberly Lynn McCall

Erin Noelle Pardini Joshua Nathaniel Bradley

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