Dolores Lynn Nyerges
Though we were not living together, we saw each other daily. She was having some lower back problems around her birthday in early Oct, and by Thanksgiving she was doing some back therapy she'd been advised, but laying flat most of the time. I didn't realize how difficult a time she was having. I moved in around Thanksgiving to assist her around the clock with food, liquids, vitamins, bathing, warmth, music -- we had a proscribed regimen. She kept telling me to be sure to eat, since this was all I was doing, and I did get some help. No, she did not go to a doctor, no she did not have any medicines, and she followed Christian Science-type healing practices. She insisted on telling people when they asked, how are you, that she is fine, and that just her body was in need of healing and that she wanted to handle purging out the negativity from her body, do or die. She was braver and more resolute than I think I would ever be.
DOLORES LYNN NYERGES--
Dolores Nyerges (aka Wanbliwin "Eagle Woman" in honor of her mother's Lakota ancestry) passed away on December 9th, 2008. [born Oct. 2,1946]. A memorial was held at her home in Highland Park on December 20.
Dolores was an avid spiritual seeker who constantly sought out Universal Truth. She grew up in Temple City's Pacific Ackworth community (Quaker), resided awhile in Virginia Beach to study with the Edgar Cayce society, and resided in Germany, Colorado, and Hawaii.
When she moved back to California, she attended the est training, which she said changed her life. She began a business selling food storage supplies, concerned about her friends and family being prepared for earthquakes and other disasters.
She spent the last 28 years as a student, supporter, and member of WTI, a Highland Park-based non-profit dedicated to all aspects of survival, but most especially, survival of the Soul, and of our planet. It is through the activities of this organization where she met Christopher, and they married in 1986. Through WTI, Dolores conducted many classes, meetings, and workshops, and actively participated in printing and publishing a rewrite of "Thinking and Destiny" and many of the thousands of writings of her mentor Revve Q. Weisz (Richard E. White).
Along the way, she created several ingenious businesses, such as a natural "organic" landscaping, web-based sales, antique linens, twig pencils, stationery and cards with thoughtful slogans, "wild plant" sachets and potpourri, wild food salads at farmers markets, natural dog food, El Dorado Bakery, and others. She proactively supported her husband Christopher's business ventures, including his writing and classes. They both appeared on the popular Huell Howser show, demonstrating (in downtown L.A. vacant lots) how anyone can still find (and eat) native plants that were once used by local Native Americans.
Together, they shared their knowledge of Native American beliefs and skills through lectures they gave to the Southwest Museum, Philosophical Society, at the 150th Commemoration of the Cherokee Trail of Tears, and elsewhere. Dolores had earned a Cherokee literacy certificate in 1988. She authored "Why Eat Wild Foods?" which appeared as a chapter in Christopher's "Guide to Wild Foods" book.
She co-authored numerous articles with Christopher in Whole Life Times, American Survival Guide, and Mother Earth News. They co-authored "Extreme Simplicity: Homesteading in the City" in 2002.
PLANTING THE ASHES
So, as Dolores wished, her body was cremated. In about three weeks after her death, I had a brown plastic box that contained her ashes. It was heavier than I expected. We received it too late for the Memorial we held in the back yard a week and a half after she died, otherwise we might have planted a tree that day.
The search was on to find the ideal tree to plant over Dolores’ ashes. The first choice was breadfruit, a Hawaiian tree, in honor of Dolores’ love of things Hawaiian, and her feeling of a connection to those islands, and the memory of her having lived there. But there was no breadfruit to be found. If anyone would have a breadfruit tree, I figured Steven Spangler of Exotica would have it, but he told me that the tree would not grow here unless in a greenhouse.
So then I tried to find a terebinth tree, rich in symbolism and seemingly ideal to memorialize Dolores. But could not find one. I was told by a botanist at the Huntington Garden that there weren’t any of these trees in North America. I sought a certain species of fragrant lilac, a certain variety of deodar, and other trees. Each of these inquiries took time, and it was clear that we should not wait too long for such a memorial. We had felt the presence of Dolores very strong through December and early January, but she seemed further afield now in that different sort of work that someone must be engaged in once their body dies. So
So finally, we planned the event for Saturday, February 7 at 3 p.m. Alvin Toma provided the two Meyer lemons – we planned to plant two trees, symbolic of all things two, like frontal column and spinal column, like Boaz and Joachim. We planned the trees so that Dolores’ trees would watch over and overlook where her dogs were buried.
On Saturday, Talal and I spent an hour finding the just-right spots for the trees. Where I first placed them, still in their pots, seemed symmetrical, but as we looked at it, we realized one would have much more shade than the other. So we moved the trees and finally found the just-right spots, where one would walk down the path and through the two lemons, into the dog cemetery. So we dug two holes and built up the hillside on the outer edge of the holes so they’d be secure and not wash away.
Soon guests came. Prudence, Julie, Racina all helped with the site preparation. Nicole and Candace came, as did Mike, and Ben, and Jonathan, and Mel. Even an Hungarian woman showed up after seeing the notice in the L.A. Times. I beat the sacred Taos drums as guests arrived, drums passed down in Dolores’ family, now to me.
We began by filling and touching our cups, and sharing a Toast to Dolores.
We read poesic arts works, and discussed death. A few words were spoken about Dolores. Then we went to the trees. Everyone gathered around. I cut Dolores’ last garment in two, a long gray cotton night shirt, and put half in each hole, explaining how it would be also good for the tree to maintain moisture during dry times. I cut some of my hair and added it to each hole. We put some Otis (our pot-bellied pig) manure into each hole. Then it was time for the ashes. The dust from which we came and to which we return. I opened the brown box and found a plastic bag inside. I opened the tie. Inside was the dense white ash. I knew that Dolores was no longer her body, but I also knew that this was left of the body within which Dolores resided. I reached into the plastic bag with my hands and took a handful of the powder and placed it in one hole. I put about half of the power into each hole. My hands were white with Dolores’ ash, which gave my hands a silky feel. I saved a little ash to see if anyone else wanted to save some. Everyone had been so very quiet. (I was later told, privately by four different people, that they had never seen human ash before, and that they were a bit shocked that I handled them with my bare hands. Prudence told me it seemed like an act of Love.)
Then we planted the trees, everyone pitching in to get the trees aligned and watered.
When done, everyone put a rock around the base, and added a little water to the trees. We read more readings, looked at Dolores’ beautiful and unique photography. I smoked Luther Standing Bear’s pipe, blowing smoke to the four directions, to honor Dolores’ site, where her ashes will nourish the trees, where the fruits will absorb the nutrients from that ash, where we will one day consume lemons nurtured by Dolores’ essence.
And the weather was perfect for the event. The rain stopped as we began, and the sky had a unique shade of blue, as large billowing clouds filled the sky. It was the sort of skyscape that you expect to see in classical European art.
Finally, Racina sang a wonderful rendition of "You Life Me Up" and John Denver’s "Country Road."
[Dolores is survived by her husband, Christopher, sister Anita, daughter Barbara, several grandchildren, and many friends.]