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Category Archives: Fathers

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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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

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