As a testament to the deep love and respect she holds for her grandfather, Chickasaw artist Courtney Parchcorn created a special piece just for him.
"For All the Grandfathers" is an intricately beaded wooden cane that Courtney designed with her father, Buddy. Though she's previously done beadwork with flutes and other wooden objects, she chose to create a cane to lend support to her grandfather, who was a diabetic.
Meant to portray the various life lessons that children learn from their grandfathers, the cane's design is full of symbolism, representing Chickasaws' generosity, spirituality and familial strength.
The three dots on the beaded feather represent her immediate family, and the eagles signify omniscience and the wisdom of elders; more specifically, the majestic birds stand for Franklin D. "R.L." Allen, Courtney's full-blooded Chickasaw grandfather who served bravely in the Korean War.
He knew his granddaughter was making this thoughtful gift for him, but she didn't want him to see it until it was completely finished. Courtney was in the middle of beading the three elaborate eagles in May 2007 when her mother called with heartbreaking news – her 77-year-old grandfather had passed away.
Though she was devastated her grandfather never saw the finished cane before he died, Courtney says she felt he was with her spiritually every step of the way. The two had a special bond, and she says she was always able to learn lessons from his unspoken actions.
Through her artwork, Courtney channels her emotions and is able to connect to her Chickasaw history and culture – and, most importantly, to her family and beloved grandfather.