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Category Archives: Alabama

The Intention to Deceive…

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An excerpt from “Fire, Rain and Lies”…

 

The intention to deceive…

A sad woman and her children stood in the graveyard on top of a small knoll watching the funeral service of her mother; asking herself, why she had come to this so-called deified ground.  The real “family”, the one acknowledged by a small gathering of people standing quietly next to the little mound of Alabama’s blood red dirt accepted the family, the two people and their children worthy of mourning the dead.  These worthy people sat in front of the casket, chairs prepared for a “family”.  A relative, a lecher, a pander of a church, an on-line bought preacher spoke of someone that he did not really know. 

There on the knoll stood four people, the woman too proud to let it show that she was being insulted and snubbed; her children protectively at her side.  Treated like yesterdays garbage upon arrival for this audacious occasion, shunned, hate shown without remorse from the “family”.  Why, because she dared to be there.  The dead, the woman in the casket had never wanted her, and although she came to see her faithfully, the selfish woman pushed her away.  Is there a hell for such people, should they or do they deserve to be called Mother?

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One week earlier, when the Mother lay dying… the lies began, “family” needed time to  open Wills, to move around assets to the “family” coffers.  Like so many years before, greed was again desperately trying to kill the seed.  Kept an aged body alive for financial gain, keeping “it” alive was beneficial. 

She was told not to come to the hospital.  The lies quickly followed, while all the time the entitlement that raged through the “family” was all that was present, no grief, instead of the grimness of death there were on faces of greedy ploys.  Gluttony bloomed before the sun would set upon that final day; looks of lying and take, take, take, their lives took on the presence of a forged tongue.  Always speaking of God, hope and prayer will not remove the presence of lies.

She left with her children knowing the “family” would hope that she would never return and they got what they wanted for a time.  She eventually returned in hopes of finding change, finding a family that wanted her, as she had always wanted them.  Lastly, she said her final good-bye. Never again, to face open jeers, false deeds, see honors lost; the price of greed can be at a great cost.  Roars of detest, to feel abhorrence of; hate; dislike intense continues now with the one’s that worry she may return.  Most of the “family” has since died but there still lies in the misty breath of strife… hate.  She is glad that the “bad omen” did not follow her in life and now destiny has finally caught up with the liar’s and their lives.          

 

©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphre

 

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Southern Greenery…

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Southern Greenery… 

 During summers when I was young, we lived at the foothills of Burleson Mountain, edged by pines that rose skyward toward the mountaintop, hidden behind these green giants were caves.  Below the mountain a rich southern greenery grew, it covered buildings, fences, tried to climb up the side of the cliffs.  The fields only escaped because the “field hands” chopped at it daily around the cotton, corn and sugarcane. 

Visitors driving through would take pictures and if you heard them talk, it was an amazing plant and they marveled at how it covered sheds, houses and barns.  This kind of thinking usually came from “Yankee’s”; to a Southerner it was a pest that would not go away. 

The vine attaches itself to anything, not being particular.  It is worthless, you cannot eat it, Southerners tried and it grows so close to whatever it covers that it does not even make a decent shade.  Yet, it does have its own beauty as its greenery cascades over the side of the rocky cliffs and caves. 

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Oh well, it does add beauty to the sides and tops of tarpaper shacks scattered throughout the South.  People who live in the South have made their peace with the dark green plant called Kudzu; they understand its fight to survive.  It is engrained deep in the South’s history and when a Southerner thinks of Kudzu their thinking of Dixie.       

 ©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

Authors Books on Line:

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Sundays at our house…

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Sundays at our house…

Sunday was the only day of the week that my mother was home, she and my sister Billie (before she got married at fourteen) would dress up in their fancy store bought clothes for church.   I never understood the importance of dressing up when I was a child; I thought I looked fine in a shirt, jeans or even overalls.  I admit that my mother had a hard time trying to make look like a little lady; I just did not have it in me.  I had a dress or two, but I just soon go naked than wear one.

Daddy never went to church.  She would try to make him go on Easter, his answer “That would make me a hypocrite since I don’t go any time the rest of the year.  To this day, I believe he is right.  I never saw my daddy smile much, but he did every Sunday when my mother made me go to church.  I knew she would soon be dreading her choice in making me go to church with them; she knew that I would be “singing loud and tapping my feet” while the rest of the people as she would say, knew how to sing softly. 

Mother insist that I attend that little old Southern Baptist church called Rural Grove on top of Burleson Mountain, she thought that I would get a religious foundation.  I never thought much could come from watching the preacher beat the pulpit, raise his fist in the air while blaring out his stories of “hell and damnation”.  You could see calmness in some, in others you saw fear, as they still smelled of the Moonshine they drained from jugs.  I was never afraid, my daddy always said that if I was kind to people believed in doing good, we would know someday, I would be fine.  I believed in the way of my Native American Heritage, I was part Chickasaw. 

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So, I sang as loud as my spirit wanted  while they sang soft, accept old lady Ragsdale, many times I thought if the roof was not nailed down it would bounce up and down; I think I did hear the bell clang once.  I danced barefoot in-between the hand hewed benches every once in awhile, and it did not bother me when I would hear the congregation call me a heathen child.  I could hear my mother after church apologize for my actions.  Heck, I always thought God and me had a good time on Sundays and I never believed in “hell and damnation”; my daddy always said how could there be a hell we are living in it here on earth.  I still believe that!

Buddhist Temples, Mosque, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian, Protestant, Mormon, all Temples…I know that I have left many out in this writing and I apologize; wherever anyone goes to worship their  personal God and pray is a good place.

Nonetheless, I knew everyone in our little church and I felt that many of them displayed their goodness in that little church…but left it there when the service was over, including my mother.  As for me, I have not changed much through the years I see my God in everything.  I am far from perfect, and I am not afraid to admit it, every day I am alive is a good day and every day is a good day to die, so I was taught.

Believe me when I say, I loved that little church and the singing and I loved my mother!

 

©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

Authors Books on Line:

https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=ann+johnson-murphree&sitesearch_type=STORE

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The Icebox…

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The Icebox…

In 1943, my family became the proud owners of a new used icebox.  A square box, one door, when you opened it there were two compartments, one with shelves and one at the top where a block of ice could the stored.  My daddy made the trip into Decatur every Saturday to the ICE Company to purchase a block of ice.  He would wrap in a burlap bag to keep it from melting during the forth-five minute trip home in Alabama’s August heat.  This icebox looked like the old one without the rust looking much like a dead vine crawling up the sides and door.

My Grandpa Johnson (whom I called Mr. Johnson, that is another story), but my sister Billie called him that endearing name.  Anyway, Mr. Johnson (my daddy’s daddy) hitched old Soap Sticks, our mule to a wagon taking the old icebox into the pasture throwing it into a Sink Hole.

It was the summer my ten-year-old-sister convinced me a four-year-old that she had a new game for me to play.  Excited I ran to the pasture with her.  All throughout our childhood she played spiteful tricks on me.  This one was the promise of playing “train”, I would soon know it was another trick.  We slid down into the Sink Hole, a dangerous thing to do but she was more afraid than I was.  I seem to live within my own world where fear was not in my make-up; my memory is vivid from that age, a blessing or curse.

She told me that I was to be the passenger and she the Engineer.  I sat down inside and she shut the door.  I could hear her laughter as she ran away.  Yes, the door should have been removed, but it was 1943, safety was not thought of in those days.

It was a Saturday, and normally I was with my daddy; when he remembered that he had not seen me for some time he questioned my sister as to my whereabouts.  She quickly answered that she had not seen me since waking that morning.  Mr. Johnson started walking through the sugarcane field next to our house and daddy rode his horse into the woods they knew that even at four the woods and fields were my playgrounds .  Soon, Mr. Johnson hollered for my daddy, he heard my dog Buttercup barking in the pasture.  They said my daddy road like the wind, jumping the barn and pasture-fencing heading toward the bark.

Buttercup was barking at the door, daddy jerked the icebox door open and by now, I was  blue.  Scared, he did not know what to do ; he got back on his horse with me across his lap and rode to a spring feed pool that was ice cold in the hottest of summer days.  He laid me in the pool splashing water on my face.  He said that within a few minutes I began to cough and cry.  He thought I had died, and maybe I did.

While Mr. Johnson went to the Sink Hole to turn the icebox over on the door, daddy carried me into the house the first question, my mother asks calmly looking at my limp body…

“Well, has she been swimming in the catfish pond again?” 

Daddy told her what happen, as he placed me on the bed my sister and I shared; mother continued to chastise me for getting my clothes wet.  She looked toward my sister saying

“You have got to stop running the woods and pastures, you should try to be a lady; more like your sister”

Later, my sister smiled when no one was looking sticking her tongue out at me!

Below is my painting, an image in acrylics of our old barn and pasture.

22.Lynns barn

 

©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

Authors Books on Line:

https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=ann+johnson-murphree&sitesearch_type=STORE

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A Motherless Child…

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A Motherless Child…

I believed and continue to believe myself to be a motherless child.  A simple family gathering where my Aunt Vina made the statement when correcting a story regarding my daddy.   She said, “No, that happen after Roy came for Ann”; then added, “Remember, she was with me until she was two years old”.  I heard her.  The truth freed a family secret; Southerners are very good at keeping secrets.  My mother unflinchingly said, “Well, it was Roy who wanted her back home, not me”.  The words cut like a knife; they would not be the last damning words to me that my mother would say.

charlotte-36-copy(This is the only picture of my mother that I have)

Questions of a lifetime were answered.  I was a tough child, strong minded, creative and resourceful; I knew how to survive.  My daddy took care of me as best he could until I was five years old; he then brought home a wonderful black lady called Aunt Francis (yes, it was the day where such names were given that today would be offensive, but I loved her) she would be my mother until I was old enough to no longer need the care a mother would give a child.  Was my mother there, of course, she was…doing her own thing.  My mother was a brilliant woman with great potential; she also had love in her heart but it was reserved for others not me.  She did not want me at birth and she did not want me the day she died.  However, that’s another story

I survived, I grew up in the tranquility of the woods that surrounded the house I lived in, I had daddy, and Aunt Vina my daddy’s sister was still in my life.  Aunt Francis taught manners and how to live with adversary; my Great-grandmother taught me how to survive in all ways.  My mother instilled fear in me.

I loved my mother with every breath I took, I remember pretending that she would put her arms around me lovingly, calling me with a voice filled with love and caring.  No, in all of my life, my mother has never put her arms around me or told me she loved me.  And, I survived it all physically, mentally is still being questioned.  Nonetheless, I flourished under those heavenly Alabama skies, I am still silent within my own loneliness, a motherless child before and after she died.

 

Note from Author:  These stories are true…there were many children in my situation, yet few continued to love their mother as I did; I have accepted the fact that it is my destiny to be alone and to be lonely.  However, writing the stories will be my gift to all who read them, I will write until the well of words dry up. 

 

 

©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

Authors Books on Line:

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As a Child I Prayed, It was the Way…

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As a Child I Prayed, It was the Way…

The knarred pines below the mountain where we lived were like living gravestone on the land we called home; high above these pines were Kudzu shrouded caves where I played with constant skinned knees, Sargasso Sea eyes and long dark braids.  I was taught that below this mountain was hallowed ground, and beneath decaying pine needles the bleached bones of my ancestors lay hidden.  My Great-grandmother said the mountain was like a place of worship, it is where she took me at dawn every morning to pray.  While the night shadows disappeared, we raised our hands to bless the day.  Her voice was strong, she chanted in her native tongue, that of the Chickasaw.  Afterwards, we would walk through emerald green grass still damp with the morning dew.  We hurried to the small creek behind my parent’s house; she would always tell me that we were washing away yesterday’s sorrows.  I would walk with her to the creek in the glow of a setting sun to thank Mother Earth for another day.  My Great-grandmother was a proud Chickasaw, she lived to be 105 years old, and those many wonderful years she lived with my family is treasured.  I was privileged to know her wisdom, her strength, and her love.  When I was a child, my Great-grandmother taught me many lessons about life, the culture of her people; it was her way.          

©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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Childhood…

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Childhood…

I have enough memories to last me a lifetime.  They will not bury themselves from which they were born.  I remember a small country church, a chorus of crows, the splashing of a brook running through the nearby Pine trees, wind stroking the branches with its unseen fingers. There was love and peace on top of Burleson Mountain.  Death, a road away from the weathered house of worship, the hearse black and cold; followed by black feathered angels. 

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The years go by quickly, and I returned.  No longer will the water near the Pines cool my Grandmothers thirst, nor will the winds embrace her leathered flesh.

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The old shack stood for decades, the rocker on her porch is stilled, no hand waves goodbye.  In a cobwebbed corner of the old tenant farmers shack, the sun shined through a cloudy window, while an image of tattered plastic curtains dance on a nearby cracked mirror hanging on the wall.  Childhood is dead.

 

©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

Authors Books on Line:

https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=ann+johnson-murphree&sitesearch_type=STORE

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