Rhoda, 96, has been part of the BNB service
for around 12 years.
Rhoda, a 96-year-old Elder, has been part of the Breakfast-in-a-Bag service through PWNA’s Northern Plains Reservation Aid™ (NPRA) program for around 12 years.
She lives in an Elder complex of the Rosebud community at the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Similar facilities are located on the reservation and are referred as a “20 plex” for the 20 efficiency apartments that house Elders. Each apartment has a small kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom. Lunches are available on weekdays in the congregate dining hall, but residents are still able to maintain their independence. The Breakfast-in-a-Bag service is helpful for the other meals that are not available throughout the week.
Her apartment is neatly kept with a pantry area that keeps her dry food items easily accessible. Family photos welcome guests and surround her as she visits with people in the living room. A large photo of a small girl in a traditional buckskin beaded dress, cradling a handmade doll, holds a special place at the entrance of the home. This young woman is Kate Roubideaux Marshall Blue Thunder, and Rhoda’s mother. To the left of the photo is a more recent photo of her mother who passed in her 101st year. Rhoda explained that, “This photo is very old and has been used a lot.”
Rhoda has four sons, two of whom have passed on. Images of these young men are also displayed on her wall along with her 15 grandchildren and many of her great-grandchildren. The list of grandchildren will be growing as Rhoda mentioned there is “another one on the way.”
Just a short distance from where she lives now, Rhoda attended Rosebud Boarding School. She made it until the 10th grade. Her family lived in the country and she recalled working hard to help the family.
Rhoda explained that this photo of her mother was "very old and has been used a lot."
She added, “We had a garden. We didn’t have electricity and we got along okay. We had plenty of water, a milk cow, a chicken, and eggs.” Rhoda signed up for NYA, a Native Youth organization, where she earned $12 per month. This was back in the ’40s, where a pair of shoes was $1.50 and a dress was $5; girls did not wear jeans. Later, she helped her brother and his wife with their kids. “I babysat and took care of my nieces and nephews while they worked,” she said.
Rhoda was married for 33 years. Her husband passed in 1978. He was a World War II veteran who, Rhoda said, “fought the Germans.” The secret to her longevity is to, “Pray a lot… never drink… take care of yourself.”
It has been almost 50 years since Rhoda had open heart surgery. She remembers that her arm was hurting all the time, so she went to the clinic in January of that year. They took her to Sioux Falls the following April for surgery. Her recovery in the hospital was over a week and her son and grandson visited her during the Easter break. When her grandson returned to school in California, he was asked what he did on his break. He told them, “We went to Aberdeen, through Sioux Falls, and then we went to see my grandma at the zoo!” Of course, there was a zoo in Sioux Falls, but the memory of his innocent mixing of the events was fondly recalled.
Rhoda is grateful for the food she gets from the Breakfast-in-a-Bag service. Her granddaughter, Leslie, is on the list to pick up her food for her, fortunately. Leslie is then able to shop and deliver the food to Rhoda. Rhoda’s 67-year-old son, who is Leslie’s dad, is also a participant, so the service provides for two generations of her family.
We enjoyed visiting with Rhoda. It was truly an honor to be invited into her home and learn more about her background. Knowing the Breakfast-in-a-Bag service makes her happy and helps provide some extra food for her made the visit even better.