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Category Archives: Mother

Easter…for Me!

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At the age of three and yes, I can remember back that far!  Easter meant dressing in your best clothes and going to church.  There was always an Easter egg hunt at the church, which was lucky for me, as my mother believed it was a day to worship “The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost”, not hide Easter Eggs. 

Daddy would put me into one of the two dresses I owned, both quiet plain and ugly, he brushed out my tight as coils hair and mother finished it off in a crown of corncob ringlets.  My mother and sister wore store bought dresses I wore hand-me-downs.  Armed with my one-pound lard bucket I was placed in the front seat of an old Army jeep.  We could only use it on nice days as the cloth top had been removed after the War!

In those days I did not realize that, everyone in the little Rural Grove Baptist Church was dress in their Sunday finery, and that only a few of us were labeled “share croppers” wore everyday clothes.  This did not matter when the service was over, all of the colorful eggs were found, Easter dinner of ham, and the trimmings were waiting at home. 

Daddy who refused to go to church would be waiting on the front porch of our tiny clapboard house, picking his banjo with a few of his farm hounds howling.  Even Soap sticks, our old mule brayed along with the dogs.  When my mother drove up the road, a silence fell across the land.  Relatives came from near and far for that Sunday feast, which she hated.

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By the age of six my mother made certain that I knew that there was “no” Easter Bunny, she may have been tired of me all year long refusing to eat the rabbits that my daddy killed on a regular basis as part of our food source.  I understood by the age of six that the only eggs boiled would go into the potato salad; coloring eggs was a waste of money, to hide them was a waste of time.  She no longer allowed me to hunt for the eggs at church.  By now, I knew why my daddy would never attend church, my sister left home and that left just mother and me. 

By the age of twelve, we had moved from the farm into the city, I was old enough to dress myself and I walked to church alone, for some reason my mother always stayed home with my daddy.  In her later years she returned to the church. 

The Easter Sunday that I turned thirteen, many of us were put into busses and cars to be taken to the backwaters of the Tennessee River to be baptized.  My mother never asks why my clothes were still wet and my hair hung down my back weighing a ton.  Daddy looked at me saying, “Well little girl they got you too”, the subject never came up again as relatives were piling into the front door greeted by the aroma of that big ham waiting for them.

By the age of sixteen, I was teaching Sunday school to an excited group of six-year-olds, I did this for ten years, through the years.  By the age of twenty-six, I was still teaching Sunday school; by this time, I was taking with me my three little girls, their daddy stayed at home.  Now, everyone is gone, my family from my childhood, the husband, and I have lost two of my five children. 

If for no other reason, I have to believe that Jesus existed and rose from the dead to enter his father’s Kingdom in Heaven, for if it is not so that would mean I will never see my family again.  So, with my time getting closer I celebrate that day and to grasp the idea that there is a Heaven and a Easter Bunny; in my mind’s eye a little curly headed child of a sharecropper is skipping on the green grass at the Rural Grove Baptist Church in Alabama hunting for eggs.  Sorry… I have to go; I see another colored egg in the tall grass by the Oak tree!

 

 

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Harnessed a few old thoughts today…

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My mother never had but one child and it was not “me”!  My mother never had but one grandchild, it was not among my own five children.  My mother never had but four great-grandchildren, my two are not among that accounting.  My mother had many great-great-grandchildren I have none to be in that accounting!

While working on my current writing project “Flying with Broken Wings”, I stop to write down a thought that would be in relation to my own autobiography that now comprises of many scraps of paper, some full sheets, including the back of many coffee house and diner placemats.  My “someday” autobiography.

The thought was to write a book about estrangement among family members.  This relates directly to my beginning paragraph.  After Google delivered its list to me, I realized that there is a slight possibility that every family in this world had problems with getting along with each other.  There are dozens of estrangement books, so my starting one is not necessary.   My home library beside many books on fiction and non-fiction consists of dozens of self-help books from emotional to the deranged brain; I have nothing on the family that hates.

 I quickly went to Amazon and ordered one that I thought interesting.  When it arrives, I will read and store with the other books on “real life issues”.  I love to read, and I see my family and myself in these books.  I do not need to learn how to confront family; ninety-nine- percent of them are dead; the other one-percent is dead to me!  These percentages consist of my birth family, mother, father, siblings, and nieces, etcetera.   

In general, I have read articles about family estrangement, mothers, fathers, siblings and the cold war of ending communication.   It is not about who got the spotlight in the family, to me it is about how one selfish act of my own mother changed the dynamics of my entire family.  There are many books and articles about this subject, but I found there are few statistics on the subject of family estrangement. 

If I had to make a statement about why family members cease to speak to each other, I would say one reason is intolerance.  Family members are unwilling to be their real selves and share their real feelings.  Living in a family with estrangements is extremely painful and can be debilitating.  I usually say, these people wear “rose colored glasses”.

Is healing possible, maybe, but my own healing is impossible due to death or stubbornness of these people.   Therefore, I believe that healing starts within, willingness or unwillingness of communication lies with the parting family member.  I chose the path of healing myself, making peace with myself, knowing that I have tried more times than anyone to reach out to family members.  They return to the “circle” of family only to push those who tried to love them away.  I find them to be hypocrites and unworthy of my love.  I have peace of mind, I will be okay, and the scars will heal.  The secret is time.  I call it the “Seven Decade War”! 

Have a great weekend.

 

 

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Down by the Creek…

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Down by the Creek…

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We walked down by the creek where your ashes nurtured the strokes of nature spreading across the land.  The children skipped and danced in the tall grass, paper and paints in hand.  Their fingers soon became the shades of a fresh rainbow, one screamed “Look”.  Those colors were “Her” favorites.  Then, flowers were drawn in pinks and purples ever so bright.  She had died one year ago that day. A bench inscribed with her name.  We knew that our lives would never be the same but she found such joy in walking among the wildflowers.  We came celebrating her life.

Text Copyright © 2016 by Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree 

Publishing Rights AsterialThoughts.100WordShortStories 2016 by Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree

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Down by the Creek, is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

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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! 

 

 

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©2017.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

 

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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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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

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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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