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

Happy Father’s Day Daddy…

30. Women in cottonfield

The painting is from an acrylic and watercolor I did in 2012,  it is one of my favorites as its subjects are from the memory of my childhood; of a place that I loved, and as a child understood the hardships of the times.  My daddy passed away in 1977, he was a good man; he was a Native American farming and living in Northern Alabama.  He farmed almost 500 acres of cotton as a “sharecropper” he made $80 a month and we lived in a tarpaper shack on a small patch of green next to a natural spring that ran into a small creek.  He was the parent who raised me and I would ride on cool mornings to the field in the back of a wagon pulled by two old mules.  At the end of the day I nestled in that same wagon on a soft bed of cotton for the trip home.  My hopes are that he is somewhere beyond the veil of life sitting on the back of a wagon with the sweet smell of smoke from his pipe circling his head as he visits with those he loved and respected.  I wrote the poem below as a tribute to him drawn on the memories of those day.

“A  tribute to Daddy”

 

The Chickasaw Farmer

Rickety old man stood on the cotton wagon a tin of yellow salve in his hand.

Rickety Old Wagon

Rickety Old Man

A hot southern sun hides behind the willows on muddy Flint Creek, cotton pickers sweat falling on parched lips taste like salty brine while they wait for the Old man to call “quitting time”.

Rickety Old Wagon

Rickety Old Man

Young, old, children, women and men bloody fingers cut by the barbs of the cotton boll dig into the old yellow salve tin.

Rickety Old Wagon

Rickety Old Man

Tar bottom sacks emptied of the soft white gold weary feet follow two old sway back mules down a rutted road.

Rickety Old Wagon

Rickety Old Man

Crimson clouds from wagon wheels whirl around tired bodies and drained minds; feels like pickers were working in the cotton fields since the beginning of time.

Rickety Old Wagon

Rickety Old Man

Mules stop at the fork of the road as the cotton pickers walked into the dark of the night the Old man’s heart filled with appreciation, because he is just an old Chickasaw farmer trying to survive inside a “White Nation”.

Rickety Old Wagon

Rickety Old Man

©2015.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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Salty Water – A 100 Word Story

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Salty Water

Jenny’s and Jim’s hearts felt ripped from their chest as their baby, their only child lay unmoving; a blue tint already replacing soft pink skin still covered with sand from the beach.   Why were they not watching her? When the ambulance drove away, they ran to their car driving away from the tiny blue and white cottage by the Gulf. As their car went through the guardrails, they held each other tightly and smiled while the cool salty water flowed through broken windows. Both called out in the darkness; “Sandy we’re coming”. The single headstone read, “HERE LIES THREE HEARTS”.

 

©2016.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree  thBPHSKA15

 

Trankil Death – A 100 Word Story

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Trankil Death

At dawn, Ruby Waters life light went out, in the dark her children cried; a candle glowed against the rustic rough boards of the shanty shadowing the souls left behind.  Laid to rest quickly in the Louisiana heat; the moon cast a glow on her shallow grave.  The children’s tears burn hot upon their dirt-streaked faces as relatives who heard the shots took them away.  Drunken Gat Waters had shot his emancipated wife because she was pregnant again then yelled, “Now dat’ are two less mouths to feed”.  They were swamp folk no one outside Bayou Gauche would ever know.

 

 

©2016.trankildeath.annjohnsonmurphree
NOTE: Visit author’s book page or ann Johnson-murphree at Amazon.com

 

 

 

Journey’s End

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Journey’s End

The essence of descent into life takes root in childhood.  Without choice, the journey in due course will end.  The caretakers of our childhood existence bestow the gift of direction upon our tomorrows.

The perception of childhood can be deceived. Livings within the shelter of acceptance in a world filled with make-believe.  Youth passes, living merely in the yesterdays of our minds.  Life becomes complicated and the visions of early days our minds eye suddenly becomes blind.

We must learn if what we are taught in the beginning is true.  One finds after they have walked the crest of mountains and in the valleys of discontent that the years one has are few.   If life is not what you wanted; it is time to follow your own path; you determine how your journey will end.

©2016.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

thBPHSKA15“Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it. Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it.”

 

 

Click on author’s book page to view poetry and art books at Amazon.com

 

 

On a Blue Bird Day

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On a Blue Bird Day

It is spring, warm breezes float through

magnolia trees.  A gracious woman of the

South rises from past memories; her

thoughts behind the ice blue eyes. She sits

on the bank of a pebbly brook under a Blue

Bird sky, the scent of lilac rises from her

starched dress.  She dips her fingers slowly

into the cool water; she is old and life has

passed her by, and the depths of her truth

never known.  In her secret place of

selfishness her hate for an unwanted child

surfaces; she stops to ponder her own question;

does she deserve the name “mother”.

 

 

 

 

©2016.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

thBPHSKA15“Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it. Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it.”

A Road Away…

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A Road Away

I have enough memories from the past

to last me for the rest of my life.  My

unstinted mind will not hide them from the

times that they were born.

A small country church, a chorus of crows;

the splashing sounds of a brook running

through the Birch trees. The wind caressing

a colossal row of Oaks in the field.

Death, a road away from the weathered house

of worship, followed by black feathered angels. 

No longer will the water beneath the Birch cool,

nor will the winds surrounding the Oaks embrace

flesh.

The rocker on the porch is stilled, no hand waves

goodbye.  In a cobwebbed corner of the room, the

sun shines through a cloudy window, as the image

of tattered curtains dance in a nearby mirror. 

Childhood is dead.

 thBPHSKA15In Memory of Charlotte –  “Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it. Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it.”

 

©2016.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

Awakening of the Heart…

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Awakening of the Heart…

In anticipation of journeys end the soul

shrouds itself in love as it travels through

the rampant winds of unknown tomorrows

aware of paths leading into happiness or

sorrow.

Created within a universe filled with mystery,

if life beyond the grave is what we believe why

in death do we grieve? As children, our lives are

open to the wisdom of those who would be our

caretakers; we have faith that they are wise

decision makers.

If we believe that our souls descended from that

mysterious place beyond the universe created by

a loving entity; then must we accept as truth the

promise that love will surround us for all eternity?

We struggle as young adults to find our way through

life while it is someone else’s beliefs that we are

taught to disagree we soon find that this battle of one’s

freedom in self-belief is one that is not easily fought.

Fighting against rule makers is a waste of time; their

beliefs are set in stone and to change them is impossible

as they shut their eyes and close their minds. As

childhood and youth fades away it leaves a confused soul,

holding onto the crumbling pages filled with knowledge

and truth never told.

The desire for serenity in our hearts comes alive as we

study the universe, life’s forces with open eyes; love and

truth is never far apart.

 

©elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

 

At: Amazon.com under the name…Ann Johnson-Murphree

 

 

 

 

Memories of Buttercup…

When I was just a child I did not know that times were bad, the depression meant nothing to me as I played in a yard with no grass and wore hand-me-down clothes. Our water came out of rocks in a hollow close to the tarpaper shack we called home; jars of milk cooled in a small pool of water that gathered there before it ran into the pasture making a small creek. I remember always being alone, just me and a dog named Buttercup. My memories are filled with the fact that my mother was always gone and my daddy was always tired; the piece below created out of memories of those days has never been forgotten. I thought that I was happy. EAJM

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Buttercup

Many years ago, when my memory first came to be I guess I was about three. I was alone all day while daddy worked in the cotton fields leaving long before the sun came up; it was just me and a big old yellow dog who watched out for me that everyone called “Buttercup”.

Daddy said that she wandered up one day about half starved and she never left our yard. I had a sister, who was about nine, but she was never around she and my mother were gone all the time.

I overheard mother saying one day that my sister was the only child that she ever wanted or even had; I did not care I had daddy so my life was not that bad.

I would eat cold biscuits every morning left on the old wood stove then sit on our back porch wondering where I could go. I did not need anyone to take care of me –   I had that old yellow dog you see.

She and I played in the fields under the hot southern sun, I would hang on to her and away we would run. Sometimes we would walk in the woods around the mountaintop where we lived. I had better care from that old yellow dog than most humans could give.

Life was not easy for me with no one to care; still “Buttercup” was always there. Soon it came time for me to go to school Buttercup and daddy would watch as the bus drove away, and they would both be waiting for me at the end of the day.

The years went by quickly when one day only daddy stood by the road with his head bowed down there were tears in his eyes as he stared at the ground. Later as my own tears fell upon a soft mound of red dirt I looked toward Heaven and told Buttercup to keep watching for me, “You’ll look up one day old girl and there I will be”.

©2014.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

My Journey into Art…

 

29. Birth of Cotton

30. Women in cottonfield

21.cotton field

31. Women Dreaming

32. Birth of Cotton 2

10.Cabin in the Meadow

The last painting is of the old two-pen cabin where I was born in Alabama; many of my poems are based on the hardships of those who took care of the deep red southern soil that grew the white gold called “cotton”.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Journey-into-Art-Ann-Johnson-Murphree/dp/1500502960/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1452384145&sr=8-1