by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega
He was born May 3, 1943. They called him Larry Roy Fisher. He was Nimkii, Young Thunder. When I was a year old and had the strength, but not the confidence, to walk, he and his older brother John held my hands and led me around the room. One day, they gave me clothespins to grasp and, holding the other ends, we started around the house. This time they let go after the first few steps. I learned I could indeed walk without someone else's support. When I realized the deception, I sat down and cried in anger. I don't suppose that my reaction was all that unusual in that we are often frustrated and upset when we are challenged to goals we don't believe we can achieve. As a visually impaired toddler, I learned from my six- and eight- year-old uncles my first lesson in independence. It is often our own fears that keep us from attempting new things. Sometimes it's not our lack of ability but our fear of trying that keeps us from achieving a goal.
When I was six and my vision was taking a serious downturn, Larry shared his love of books with me. I will always remember the scary voice he used for Golem when he read me the Hobbit. By the time I was in my teens and wondering how I fit into a sighted world as a young blind girl, he was my mirror, like that of the wicked queen in Snow White. My mirror told me what he saw and because his vision of me was a flattering one, I tried hard to live up to the image he presented. Because there was only five years between us in age, he was the closest thing to a big brother I had.
When I went off to college, he chose to follow me to finish his own degree. I majored in psychology and he in art, but I always knew he was there should I need a friend to talk to. Many times we stayed up late into the night discussing life, philosophy, art, books and our futures. Over the years he gave me many gifts of his own creation. But the gift of his time and love outweigh all the rest. I will always have the sound of his quiet rumbling voice in my heart to encourage me to be the best person I am capable of being and striving to make the world a little better place for my having passed through it. Thank you uncle, mentor, big brother and friend.