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Category Archives: Fathers

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My last entry I wrote of a feeling of impatient irritation in reading “FAKE” or “REAL” news, that feeling continues however I have not had time to post; please excuse me; the mind or body did not cooperated these past few days .  My depression sometime has a life of its own that I cannot win.

I told you of my great-grandmother who was the “Keeper of the Memories” for the family.  Everyone called her “Ma”;   I spent many hours sitting next to her rocking chair just listening.  You read of her father Fosee, her grandfather and grandmother, all Native Americans living in Alabama Territory.

(Ma as the storyteller continues) However, Fosee like all of the boys in his vision could not wait to go on his Vision Quest.  Early one morning his father woke him it was time to find his own Totem.  At the edge of the forest (this would later be known as the Black Warrior Forest), he was shown a path that he must follow, yet, to find his own path in life.  Somewhere down that path, he would discover himself.

On that path he saw many signs of small animals, he found a bush with his favorite berries; quickly pushed his hunger out of his mind, he could not eat until he discovered his path in life.  Mid-day he came upon a clearing Fosee lay down in the tall yellow grass staring at the sky and watching the clouds drift by; he drifted off to sleep.  It was in that sleep he dreamed that his grandfather was with him; Fosee smiled when he looked at the leathery chiseled face with deep furrowed lines and the long white hair cascading around his strong shoulders.  Then he heard his grandfather calling his name, Fosee jumped from his warm bed of wild wheat and ran toward the river, he had much to do before dark.  Fosee carried rocks and cedar branches to the top of a large flat rock, the made a circle placing twigs in the circle, he used flints to light his fire and was soon fast asleep.

Fosee did not move from the flat rock where he drifted in and out of sleep both day and night, he was hungry; one day led to the next.  On the third day, he leaned over looking at the river below; then he thought that he heard his grandfather.  Then, he saw him, sitting across from him, the smoke stung his eyes and it was like a thick fog, but he could hear his grandfather talking to him, although his mouth never moved.  It was the spirit of his grandfather.

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On the fourth day came and this would be his last night on the rock, floating in and out of consciousness.   The eastern sky looked like the forest was on fire, the western sky a full moon seems to be dipping behind the cliffs that edged the river.  Suddenly, a Hawk with massive wings glided over the fire landing next to the circle of rocks.  The Hawk spread his wings pointing at one of the rocks saying, “This is where you life began”; then he spread his wing around the circle saying “This is where you life will end”.  There was one rock missing.  Fosee returned to the path, the Hawk followed him, and then swooped down landing on a fallen tree.  When he looked back to the path there stood his father and they returned without talking to meet his mother at the cooking fire.  He turned to the center yard saying, “I am no longer Little Bird, my name is Hawk”.

 

Resource – Storyteller – Jane Over-Town “Overton”
1848-1954 at the age of 106 her mind was
Like a steel trap, she never forgot anything,
It was her body that was ready for death; she lay
down for an afternoon nap and woke only to
say goodbye to the grandson she raised, my father

Post Writer – Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree
Great granddaughter

 

 

 

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The NAACP has a message…

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The NAACP has a message for a mostly white Alabama town that got the green light from a federal judge to split from a racially mixed county school district and start its own system.  In the end, however, Haikala allowed the split to be fair to the parents in Gardendale “who support a municipal separation for reasons that have nothing to do with race.”  However, Haikala also reserved the right to reverse her decision if Gardendale reverted back. Corky Siemaszko – NBC NEWS

The subject of this news clip is a small town that is home to some of what I call “shirttail” relatives’, however, I am certain they are relatives from the “white” side of the family.  Gardendale, Alabama a suburb of Birmingham was always white; it is located in Jefferson County and there has always been racial discord there.  Since desegregation became a reality to die hard Bible belt white folk, Gardendale has wanted to create its own school system and town leaders, it appears that these white folk are concerned that their town may become mostly black, while they prefer it to be mostly white.

I suppose that I am back on Trump again, nonetheless, I am fearful that these types of shameful situations will be on the rise as segregation, outlawing Islam, destroying US agriculture by deporting most of its field workers is the plan wanted by many of his followers.  Trump has been endorsed by major racists in the US, many White Supremacist hate groups openly campaigned for him.

AGAIN, I AM ORIGNALLY FROM ALABAMA!

I remember some of the wording (so I had to look it up) of the ORDINANCE OR GENERAL CODE created by the City of Birmingham, Alabama.  It stated that it would be unlawful for a Negro and a white person to play together, or be in the company with each other in any game of cards, dice, dominoes, checkers, baseball, softball, football, basketball or similar games.  Now, this ordinance was created from some of Alabama’s finest!

I have seen what happens up close and personally, what hate will do.  I personally witnessed what hate can do, and I will tell you now that even as a student in school if you were not a part of the “Jim Crow” laws or believed in them, you were called traitor or worse .  I lived through the demonstration eras of the 1950s and 1960s; it was horrible to hear of innocent people being treated as horrible as they were and the rules were made up as each incident occurred, not lawful rules; rules of hate.   There were still struggles to follow but the Civil Rights Act of 1964-banned segregation in public accommodations and employment in Alabama.  This may have ban segregation in the physically, but not the mentally.  There were no laws on how southerners thought and felt about what they were being “made” to do.

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Which brings me to the rise of African Americans as they were called in those days of essential freedoms, and that the Native Americans were not even considered American citizens at the time; the 14th Amendment that gave Blacks their citizenship excluded Native Americans.   Native Americans were not granted U.S. citizenship and the right to vote 1924 was 54 years after African-American men were allowed to vote, and four years after women received the same right with the 19th Amendment.

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My father, who was of Native American Chickasaw heritage, did not have the right to vote until he was twenty-one-years old.  His grandmother who was of the Mississippi Old Towne Tribe raised him, she eventually moved to Tarrant City, Alabama where she became a woman of means for the times.  My father came to live with her when he was just a boy after his mother died because he was going to be sent to the Indian School where they Americanized children.   The idea was that when indigenous people learned United States (American) customs and values, they would be able to merge tribal traditions with American culture and peacefully join society.  She removed him from the danger of this Americanization and placed him (for the right amount of money) into the local Catholic School.

I went through school hearing “kids” say that my father was a dirty Indian; that was the country school I attended, when we moved into town not so much (maybe the city kids were less “Redneck”).  Rarely did my mother go anywhere with my father, I believe she was embarrassed because she was a very prejudice person, why did she marry him, that’s another story.  When he moved his grandmother in with us, along with a grand old black lady that I called Aunt Francis (a common name for the times) that help raise me; I rarely saw her myself.  It was my father, great-grandmother, and Aunt Francis who taught me the values I possess today; I am so very grateful to them.

Therefore, as you can see I have lived in both worlds where prejudice lived and it was not present, when I read that towns like Gardendale, Alabama can now return to segregation I am embarrassed all over again.   Alabama is a beautiful state and I am certain that there are wonderful people who live there, but beauty as it is said to be only…skin-deep.

As a country that has always been GREAT…we cannot go backwards, we have lost too much in gaining what we have to let these crucial laws be changed.  We all need to join the fight against segregation laws being overturned.  Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree

 

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Days of Pondering…

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Here we are beginning August…I have many things to recall from this month as all the others.  January marks the death of my father, my daddy the subject of another book series; and brings to mind my mother-in-law and the Smith family, which I have a book outlined waiting in line for others to be finished.  A gift came on a cold January day, my granddaughter Elizabeth was born.

February marks the birth of my oldest son Carl, a wonderful father and husband, towers over all, intelligent, a man who can take control when necessary, he and Cindy have given me three wonderful grandchildren.  February is also the month that my daughter Terri was born coming into a world with fiery lungs that has only grown throughout the years; her words are quick and sharp, and sometimes kind.

March, April and May have been lost in the foggy paths we all have taken.  June brought the baby of the family Chuck, a quiet, intelligent man; loves life and his wife Karen; he is a serious writer and educator.  July, a month of remembrance, the loss of my daughter, the pain never goes away; the scars of her death are prominent on my mind and soul.

This month August, I remember my only sibling, my sister Billie passed away.  September is the month I lost my mother, one that I loved and the one who could never love me back, a painful month when I  truly felt like an orphan.  The other months October, November and December will come and go like a thief in the night; giving us time to reflect again and start another year.

This sounds more like and end of year post, but I sat on my patio alone accept Mason my four legged furry adopted son…and I had to work my way out of the “mood” that I was in…and get back to my latest project a series “The Generations – Secrets and Lies”.

I also thought of all of you, my followers and how lucky I am to have such wonderful support; my heartfelt thanks to all of you.  I wish for you love and happiness.  EAJM

 

At Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com

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https://www.amazon.com/Flying-Broken-Wings-Charlotte-Murphree/dp/1547051329/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501732166&sr=1-1&keywords=ann+johnson-murphree

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/flying-with-broken-wings-elizabeth-ann-johnson-murphree/1126510816?ean=9781547051328

 

 

 

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Estrangement from Family …

Estrangement from Family…

With the book, Flying with Broken Wings finished and in the “mail”; before I begin the next writing project I wanted to post my own feelings about ESTRANGEMENT …some type of estrangement appears to be an ongoing part of my life.  Therefore, I will share a few with you…

I want to write about estrangement from family, mine and my point of view.  First comes the Alabama “shirttail” redneck relatives oh yes…I use to go back home to visit and their first words upon seeing me was “You still a Yankee”?  Still living is an aunt and uncle neither have ever been outside their home town except when my uncle went to fight “The Big War”, which in reality was the end of the Korean Conflict.  He returned to work in the same factory forty or more years and she was a homemaker.  Nothing wrong with either of those statements accept you would have to know them personally, as there are various levels of “Redneck”.

I call it a YO-YO estrangement spanning about forty- years.  I went those many years going back to a place I knew was never “home” just a place where I grew up.  Always spring and Thanksgiving breaks with my parents whom have since passed, I had one sibling who passed as well.  During those, many years visiting on Holidays brought a new meaning to the word relatives.    

I understand that I left home when I was sixteen, but I tried to keep in touch with many of them.  I must say that it was a one-way communication, hard to believe but it was…I would call my parents weekly, reach out to the only sibling I had, and the others who I thought of as relatives.

Now after all of these many years later I have to wonder why relatives chose to distance themselves, choose to demonize you while painting themselves as virtuous, sailing a tide of bitterness and anger mostly for unknown reasons.  Most thought if you crossed the Alabama state line you would fall into the Pits of Hell, yep, Alabama was the world and it was flat.  It appeared the closer the “Pecking Order” leading to the top…the nastier they were when talking behind one is back.  Oh, this was not just me; this deeply embedded Redneck dysfunctional family went after each other as well.

My parents made it known to me in the hidden messages in their conversations that visitors should stay in a motel.  I was the visiting relative.  I kept my visits short and casual, the love I had for my out of touch parents would never end.  I was not alone in these situations, my aunts, uncles and families were not welcome, including my only sibling.  The only one my parents ever accepted was a grandchild whom had lived off my parents all of their life. However, this individual would never learn to function alone, not my problem I say.

Three years before my mother died (my father already dead); ask that I “not come back”.  I honored her wish and did not return until her death.  Estrangement…the only relative I felt close too ostracized me for about ten years.  I reached out and the email relationship and an occasional visits were on and off for another twenty years, having three year gaps.  Please understand that I continued to try and “hold on” to this individual because of my parents.  In the beginning of 2017, the mixed messages and/or lies seem to give me reason to turn loose, to stop the acting, to stop listening to how their entitlement created by my parents caused all of the problems.  From parents that made the mistake of “dying” leaving them to fend for themselves.  Oh my, what a dilemma! 

I finally went “Oh my God”; I have been holding onto a family member that clearly does not want to continue communicating with me or have a family relationship.  Since, I have made it very clear that I no longer want to be a puppet in their lives, strung along to whatever tune they are playing. 

I realize that some might be empathetic and others will say for the sake of peace live with their poor reasoning skills and their sense of entitlement.  I understand struggling, but I was not the child that lived free well into adulthood under my parents “roof”, I was not the one who did not know how to survive.   

Honestly, I wrestle with the challenges, struggles, and consequences of writing about my estrangement.  It is hard to decide what to omit and what to disclose.  The stakes are high and paying the price for transparency can strike hard.  While many people are empathetic, some think I should bury the hatchet for the sake of peace and family.

While I am no person’s judge, I do not presume to know what others should or should not do in the same predicament.  I do not have to explain or justify my decision to draw boundaries between my family and me.  I do not have to help these people understand my position.  I do not have to defend myself or prove myself. Please do not underestimate the power or long-lasting effect of emotional and verbal abuse.  With the death of my parents, I would tread lightly as the family I was dealing with had a passion for lying and being a victim.  I have known all my life that my family would never inspire to match the image of a Norman Rockwell painting.

For those who are empathetic with my situation or suffer from their own estrangement, thank you for understanding!  I know estrangement is tough especially during the holidays, which promotes families and togetherness.  It is plagued by awkward moments where we dodge communication about our family and suffer in silence.  

I try to remember that no two people view any event the same, even within a family.  We have different vantage points, shaped by our own perspectives & life experiences.  Our different levels of awareness are impacted by our beliefs, ideas, fears, & motives.  I have quit trying to change my estranged family or trying to get them to consign to a common perspective.

There are NO completely innocent parties with estrangement.  I try to reflect on my part.  I do not question if somehow I could have handled things differently.  What would I do differently next time, nothing, as there will not be a next time?  Life hands us pain and hurt to teach us lessons.  I have finally with aged wisdom learned from my experiences with family.

I have chosen to focus on the healthy relationships in my life and my children and grandchildren, which I have built on respect, support, & appreciation where I am loved for who I am and not what others wanted me to be.  My was not imprinted with images of unconditional love and acceptance from family.  I do know that I am not alone…with these words in closing old wounds, I have a new perspective on my life and will now begin my next writing project…”Rain, Fire and Lies”, my autobiography.

Thank you for reading and supporting me, I will do my best to keep all of you posted with the progress of the book and my daily life.  Love to all of you.

2017©elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

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It is a Blue Bird Day…

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Once again it is spring, warm breezes of May float across the green grass, it strokes the Hosta, Day Lilies, and Bleeding Hearts lightly; the daffodils’ leisurely bow their golden heads ready to sleep in the bosom of Mother Nature.  May is also the month that my mother and father married.

They would have been married forty-five years when he died.  My father was a man of few words, in those early days he turned over crimson soil with an old mule and one blade plow.  The land within time would turn into a sea of the white gold; cotton.  Later, he would work in a steel plant welding; the burns to his face and hands left deep brown scars.  The way he led his life was a testament to his principles.  

When the steel plant closed, he set out on yet another quest; he drove a sixteen wheeler making a California “turn around”, which was driving from Alabama to California and back weekly.  He always had a supply of “Bennie’s”, known to be an “upper or speed”.  He actually worked at this job until he retired; one month before he passed away.  It was his job and drug of choice; with the blood of his Chickasaw ancestors flowing through his veins and Uppers, he was no doubt a “Bad Boy” on that three-thousand-mile road.

My mother, a gracious but cold-hearted woman of the South was among the “career” women of the time.  She chose to be a beautician over being a mother.  When she looked at me with those ice blue eyes and tight lips it sent fear deep into my soul.  She left me to walk the furrowed red rows behind a plow and mule; my father did the best that he could to raise me.  

 My Aunt Vina, my father’s sister kept me during the summer months; she was the mother I did not have in those days.  She taught me to read and write; I was living among the upper class, artist, writers, poets, and politicians.   She and my father taught me how to love, be proud of who I am and believe.

As I walk through these  last chapters of my life I find my home overflowing with paintings on my walls and those to finish on the table, hours spent in reading, writing stories and poetry fill my days and nights.  This short walk down memory lane has been a happy and a sad one; some would say do not take that path through my memory.  However, it is these memories that make up who I am and I like whom I am today.

Thanks to all of you who drop by to see new post.  Have a great weekend, as I too will enjoy the beauty of spring all under a blue bird sky.  eajm

 

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The Coffee Table…

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This is a very, very short story of a long marriage that “ends” after thirty-six years with spurts of happiness and much tribulation; the end came over twenty-five years ago. Now that the logistics is out of the way, this numeric information is relevant to the title…the coffee table. 

I chose to end the marriage that had been filled little happiness and many tumult periods from the beginning.  It is important to know that before ending such a marriage my children were adults.  I walked away on a sunny June morning with a suitcase, my dog and a rented car.  I did not want anything that was a part of my past.  The coffee table bought in the mid-sixties was going to be tossed in the mid-nineties; it had been in the basement of my sons’ home.  Cleaning time. 

I said yes, I would take it.  Somehow it meant something to me; the only thing that I would have from my marriage.  This ageless contemporary piece of furniture carried with it many memories.  Shopping for furniture in 1979 was during a better time, my then husband and I spent an entire day searching the stores until the one meant for us was found.  A few days later the table would be tossed across the room in a rage of madness, the inside frame broken.  I repaired the table and it was like new.

It would appear that the coffee table itself was somehow demonic.  Over the period of ten-years, the coffee table would split open the chins and one cut above an eye of two boys wrestling in the living room.  It placed cuts on grandchildren that tripped and fell on its corners.  It left bruises on shins of the entire family who chose to hurry around the object of discussion.

 

It had its good moments too.  It served as desk where hundreds of thousands pages of homework was done.  Throughout its “life” served as step stool, craft table, coloring table, and eating and snack table.  It has held plants, books and other things during the different seasons.  I smile as I think back at the many good times my children and I had sitting around this table when my husband was out of town.  We glorified the days without chaos.  When I received the coffee table, I painted the dark wood white, a pure color that would remove all turmoil significance.  Throughout these past years, it has been repainted the same white many times.

This brings me to the present and for the record, I have stated many times that the table is being held together by the paint.  Apparently, it was…my four-year-old grandson used it as a bounce board and then I sat on the table to talk to my granddaughter and poof; I ended its life and an era.

 

Well you would not believe the “moans” from my children, “ah can’t it be fixed”?

 

There was no pain in its exodus from my home, well maybe a little as it was heaved into the trash.  I suddenly understood that I had held onto it for the memories, memories that are embedded deep within me.  The good ones I will keep, the bad will soon be hauled away.  I thought about what could have been and never was; time wasted, and I looked for the last time at the only thing that was left of a long marriage… the coffee table.   

 

 

 

©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

 

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Causalities of Life…

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The homeless cannot sleep on cold nights, some gather around burning barrels, men, women and children, forgotten, shattered and despised by those who are more fortunate… those who have a home, a job.  In the distance, you may hear a baby cry.  Mothers’, Fathers’ are begging for food, living on the streets, no jobs, the family no longer sound. 

Government talks end up in contradictions, a lifetime of poverty is the homeless prediction.   The spirit freezes, fruit of labors rot, life squeezes and struggles persist.   Bad luck smothering heart and soul, hope ceases to exist.  Shifting winds turn into storms, will the world grow wiser or beaten back into servility?  Trust departed, a cardboard box in the streets is where the homeless make their beds, hope disappears and the future appears dead.  Wake up America! 

 

 

Writing

©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

 

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