My Ancestors

Velma Olivene Yokum (years of her life): Great-Grandma Olivene wrote each family member’s name and birthdate in the front cover of her big Bible. Every day of our lives, she prayed for each one of us. As a young Pagan, my grandmother’s daily prayers embarrassed me. But as I got older, I learned to treasure my Great-Grandmother’s prayers. No matter how many months stretched between our visits, she thought about me every day. She loved me and wished me well every day. She unconditionally claimed me as her own.

Dorris Gwen Neeley (1940-present): My maternal grandmother is one of the most important people in my life. I feel so blessed to live right down the street from her, in the same watershed where she raised her children. She passes down a family tradition of farming, animal care, and community child-raising. I have been able to commit myself to her because she modeled that commitment in how she showed her love for me, through practical support, from the beginning of my life. Thank you, Nanny.

Alan Linn (birth year -present): Every memory I have of Grandpa Linn includes him chuckling with pleasure as he gazed at his beloved grandchildren. He is so good at showing his delight in me, and his complete pleasure in loving me. He also passed on practical skills from his life in southern Alaska, where he raised his sons fishing, hunting, and flying bush planes. His son, Kelly O. Linn, passed on this love of the Earth to me. My parents took us camping in remote areas of Oregon, Washington state, and Alaska for 2-4 weeks every summer. Above all, I learned from my grandfather a deep feeling of belonging in the community of all life.

Thank you also to my mother, Kathryn June Linn née Enyart, for giving me life and creating a safe and loving childhood home. During my childhood I went with my mother to pick strawberries in the fields, washed and de-stemmed them in the sink (I ate just a few), and made freezer jam to last all year. This annual family tradition forms the foundation for some of my later work in life.