What is it to Grow Old…#160

Watching the body lose its shape, the eyes no

longer sparkle, becoming smaller.  Strength

disappears, limbs grow stiff, and every

function less accurate and every fiber of

one’s being frail and overwrought with life.

 

Life is not what in our youth we dreamed

it would be! The aging was not to be mellow

and soft as the sunsets glow, these golden

days’ decline with a hurried speed.

 

To see the world from a pinnacle with creative

eyes, a heart deeply moved. Yet we mourn to

feel and see the past, the years that are gone

forever.

 

Being old is to spend long days not once

believing that we were ever young. Confined

in the cold prison of living day to day with

weary pain.  It is to suffer, being only half

of what we use to be; feeble are many who

are hidden away. Remembrance gone, no

emotion, no life.

 

This is the last stage of life, frozen within

ourselves, soon to be an empty ghost; whom

do we blame?

 

 

©elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

Generations of Secrets and Lies – Part 1…#149

Author’s Note:
This facts of this story has two aspects, one is the presumed facts written from the annals of history; and second by the confident oral history from the memory of Mary Jane Overton, a proud Chickasaw.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 marks a dark time in American history regarding the new country’s relationship with the Native American population. It first called for the “voluntary” relocation to lands west, then the “forcible removal of all Indians”. The outcome would be that they would reside in the eastern United States to the state of Oklahoma.
May 1838 was set as the voluntary removal date, but many Cherokees remained and did not voluntarily move; many of them resided in my home state of Alabama. Eight years later, Major General Winfield Scott was ordered to round-up and remove the remaining Indians. This forcible removal came to be called the “Trail of Tears”. During those eight years, 46,000 Native Americans were forced to leave their homes in southeastern states.
Many sites in Alabama factored into the removal on the Trail of Tears. Five known routes crossed north Alabama taking many from their homeland on foot, by boat and train through towns like Guntersville, Tuscumbia, my home town of Decatur, Huntsville and Waterloo.
The Trail of Tears is roughly 2,300 miles long and passes through nine states over land and water. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Many people were either murdered or relocated with very few hiding in remote locations like Bucks Pocket, Little River Canyon, the mountains, and around the Tennessee River.
Many died from exposure, disease, and starvation on their route to Oklahoma. On this forced march were my great-great grandparents. It is estimated that 4,000 Chickasaw, including any of their black slaves as well as lower class white citizens were in this movement. The Trail of Tears is one of the worst tragedies in American History.

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The Native American culture is known for its rich oral tradition – instead of using a written language to document their history, these indigenous people simply relied on their verbal language to share their history, customs, rituals, and legends through vivid narratives.
This oral accounting told to me beginning at the age of about six-years-old until my great grandmother died when I was a teenager.

Generations of Secrets and Lies
Part 1
Mary Jane Overton – “Ma”

     “Fosee, my father belonged to the Mississippi Over-Towne Tribe. In his youth, the        Tribe tried to continue their peaceful life without contact with the white man’s world.   Fosee knew that he was a descendant of many generations of Warriors. Born in a round Birch bark roofed dwelling that stood on the edge of the Chickasaw Tribes town. His parents gave their only child the name Fosee, which meant Bird. His younger days were spent hunting small animals and playing Chukka Ball in the open yard centered in the middle of his peoples circled dwellings”. Ma said in her firm no nonsense tone.
Fosse’s father a name that Ma could not remember held a place of prominence in the tribe. It was said that he was a powerful Warrior and skilled hunter, his wife; Fosse’s mother, again no known name, was said to be the most beautiful woman in the Tribe, her beauty came from Cherokee ancestors, and she was of mixed blood, Chickasaw and Cherokee. Her beauty and gentle nature were the reasons Fosse’s father had chosen her to be his wife.
“My father told me that his father remembered all of the grandparents. However, it was on his father’s side, the grandfather he remembered the most and with clarity. He remembered his elegant clothes made of the softened skins of deer. The colorful decorations sewn upon the breast of his shirts by his grandmother were elegant and of the best beads. His grandfathers white hair flowed about his shoulders and his skin engraved with the scars of many wars from his younger days”. Ma stopped for a moment staring at something no one else could see.
This grandfather Fosse’s favorite looked like nobility. It was said that he would listen intently to the stories this grandfather told around the cooking fires and see the softness in his eyes when he detailed of the loss of family and friends in battles. Within a few short years, after the birth of Fosee all four of his close grandparents had succumb to a disease brought into the town by a white man.

 

Author’s Note: To be continued in Generations of Secrets and Lies – Part 2

We Felt Like Abandoned Children…#146

Author’s Note:  Once again fellow bloggers I have been hospitalized for a week, this time it was diagnosed as “heart failure”.  As usual I refused to stay down for the count!  Even at this late stage of my life.  I keep saying that I have too much to do, yet!  The post below was in progress when I had to stop suddenly.  I am so happy to see all of your smiling photographs again.  E.

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Charlotte Jean Murphree    1958-2010

If you have read my book “Flying with Broken Wings”, the story of my daughter and her battle with mental disease you will have a better understanding of my poetry books that are filled with sad and disturbing poems. The poetry is based on life experiences, and I sometimes believe that no one wants to read poetry, especially sad poems. I felt that my soul was lost without her. My heart searched for her, for years. However, I did believe that her life story would find its niche in the marketplace. I am not the first, nor will I be the last to collapse inwardly with force because of the external stress that is alive and well among the world and writing community. This is my last sad poem…

We Felt Like Abandoned Children

The memory of you emerges from the depths of my heart and soul, like the many rivers that flow into the sea our lives will be merged forever. The hour of your departure, cold and pelted by the fragments of your life, you no longer have to battle with a troubled mind. The days could be filled with turmoil or laughter and love; you lived on your own terms. From the day you were born, you were winged and wounded.

You lived behind a shadowed wall in never-ending sadness, shattered and broken. You were always loved, you never thirst or felt hunger. Anticipation of a future was never hidden from you, when you came from your short-lived darkness and despair. Then without warning, you sank back to that place where we could not reach you.

Then as quickly as you came into the world you left, the hour of departure was cold, the moon hid behind darkened clouds. In the morning light, the black birds of death gathered outside the window where you lay. The stars disappeared beyond the gray skies; tremulous tears lay in the twist of my hands. Your battle over, the white doves of loved chased the black birds away; and in the hour of your departure we felt like abandoned children. Fly, fly away my beautiful child your wings are no longer broken.

 

©2020.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree
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Possession of the Mind…#145

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Author’s Note:  Recently I had a discussion with an individual that had a close family member with dementia.   I thought of what it might be like to have dementia, what would one think, see, feel, from those thought came “Possession of the Mind”.

 

Possession of the Mind…

It so happens that I am an old woman. I do not walk as much as I use too. There are times when I feel desiccated with no plasticity, as I move slowly through the day both mentally and physically.  Thoughts and feelings at times cause me to shed tears silently so no one will know what is tearing the core of me to shreds. I force myself up each day, unhurriedly I chase through the day.
I no longer find pleasure in stores, restaurants, travel or planned events. Why? My feet and legs will no longer hold my withering body. My hair I have begun to hate, its time-consuming length, its color. I hate my shadow as well.   I am tired of being a human, I look into the mirror and I do not know the person looking back at me. There is no sparkle in her eyes, no smiles that puts a glow on her face. The person I once knew is no longer there.
My world is dark, shivering, constantly hording information mentally, thinking, eating, sleeping, every day. I do not want the misery that my mind creates every day and night. I sometimes feel frozen, dying of grief. My soul blazes like an unstoppable forest fire, I hear howling of the wounded waiting for their Angel of Death.
I dream of crumbling houses, hospitals that smell like death; hanging intestine, crushed bones. I wake weeping from shame and terror, remembering the venom of the night. I fall back to sleep dreaming of birds, white feathers falling to the ground.
It is during my daily walk that I stroll with eyes open taking in the beauty of it all, letting the senses of the world absorb me, forgetting all that has possessed my mind.

 

©2020.elizabethannjohnsonmuphree

 

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Little Bit…#142

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Today begin early for me, it was not quiet daylight and I suddenly knocked over my water bottle; damn, it would not have been a problem if the top had been on! The darkness turned to gray and refuses to change; it is raining here in Wisconsin with a temperature reading of 50 degrees. The snow came in October, left quickly and has not returned, this makes for a shorter winter season and I am certain that some love it, I do. Who does not love it, those who ski, snowboard, snowshoe, or the children who just want to play in it? My thoughts, I live within the walls of my very own sanctuary where I write, paint, watch movies and those other normal living characteristic that make up the remainder of who I am. Who am I? I am still in search of the answer to that question, one would think that after living eight decades that one would have it all figured out, no!

 
My great-grandmother told me when she was in her nineties that we must know where we have been before we will know where we are going, others believe to forget the past and move forward into their future. I persist on returning to the past and I continue to wonder about where I am going. This could be a good thing or bad, I return often as I am continually writing about the past, and these days I try to live more in the moment, and as for the future, planning is done but with limited time constraints.

 
Speaking of the past, I woke this morning thinking of the day that my first four-legged companion passed away, she was twelve years old, the same age as I then. My daddy found her on the side of the road the day I was born; she had been thrown in a ditch. He said that she was so tiny that she fit in the palm of his hand. He kept her in a old shed at the edge of the woods, as my mother did not like domestic animals of any kind, dog or cat, or otherwise. When the little dog was big enough to survive on her own daddy brought her to the old house we live in and begin his battle with my mother. Finally, she agreed to have her live outside. This would have been difficult accept Alabama in those days did not have winters, the weather was never a concern and daddy made her a bed in a wood crate under the front porch.

 
I can recall as far back to when I was four years old slipping Little Bit into my bed. Yes, daddy called her Little Bit saying that she must have been the runt of the litter. During those twelve years, I had other dogs in my life, a big yellow bulldog named Buddy and two Chinese Chows, King and Queen; but the love of my life as a child was Little Bit.

 
When I was twelve we left the country moving to Decatur, Alabama and during all those years, Little Bit had never had puppies. Still, mother would not allow any animals in her house…we lived in a bi-plex and daddy was allowed to build her a small pen in what was our back yard. I came home from school one day and someone had broke the lock on her pen and let her out, I found her under a bush bloody from what I imagine was a fight with a cat or dog. A short time later her little belly begins to become, round and daddy said that she was pregnant; being a country kid, I did not have to have the facts of life explained to me. A few weeks later, she lay in her pen crying, when I rushed her in the house daddy said he needed to take her to a Vet, and I had to go to school or my mother would “kill” us both, not literally.

 
I arrived home mid-afternoon and daddy was sitting on the front porch steps waiting for me, I could tell by the look on his face that something was wrong. My first question was if something was wrong with my mother. His eyes filled with tears as he told me the Vet had to put Little Bit to sleep; she was hurt bad and would never have recovered. I cried for the first time I could ever remember, the only thing I thought truly loved me was gone.

 
Throughout the years I have played in my dreams many times with Little Bit, we are both young rolling in the fresh grass of spring, or I am wading in the near-by shallow brook while holding her in my arms like a baby. In this winter of my life, I have not dreamed of her in years, but I woke with her on my mind on this gray morning. I sat with my coffee thinking of my long ago friend, and for me, she will always be just a thought away.

 

©2019.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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Epoch of Living…#134

 

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Epoch of Living…
In this age with the elderly outnumbering the rest of society, I have been privilege to be a part of some living and passing. It is the days before their glorious ascension that I write about today. I live in an Independent complex for “seniors”; the transference was not an easy one, but the simplicity of living outweighed all other situations. Why do I write about this subject? The decline of the human body and sometimes the Spirit and Soul. I have surveyed many and followed their decline and fight to live a productive and peaceful life. The subject matter of this post is my own personal opinion.

The healthy hearty individuals who chose to give up their homes for a more simple life, less house and yard work arrive with smiles. They have underground parking and no longer have to fight the winter weather, snow and ice. They have activities if they wish to participate, everything from cards, bingo, community choirs and gatherings to potlucks and holiday meals and cook outs.

In the beginning they are many times met in these “get-to-gathers” by the few with more boisterous personalities, i.e., they want to run the show and those attending. I do not attend these gatherings, as I have always been an advocate for the elderly…then became one. By the time we get to these types of living situations many have lost the fight that we possessed in younger days, we allow the few to control the masses. These are individual choices and I in no way want to judge why some lets others control them. Of course, there is also living in the complex those few like myself who choose to walk to our own drummer so to speak. Nonetheless, it is a source of irritation to me when I hear of the controlling few and how they act toward their fellow women and men.

Back to the decline, the residents arrive with enthusiasm, new cars, and settle into a less stressful lifestyle. It is the decline of the human body and mind that I get upset with the progress. Within a few years, their cars are taken from them, leaving them without transportation and at the mercy of their children or grandchildren to provide rides to doctor visits and shopping. I have observed those who did not need to give up driving, it was taken away because a child wanted the use of the vehicle. When discussing a sometimes-tragic decision tears come to their eyes, they were not ready, nor did they need to be ready. Then there are those who should have had those vehicles taken to protect the public and they had no one to make the choice for them, they are a danger to society.

The few who remain independent is not what this post is regarding, it is about those who fall into the category of being told what to do, or have relatives forget they exist. The brave few who are capable of making their own decisions and continue to live a lifestyle that should be afforded the elderly I applaud them. There are those who have loving children and are held in high regard by those children, they are well cared for and visited often.

This bring me to those who are within time visited by their children only on holidays, if even then, or those who come around to “get” what they want material, financial or otherwise. I have witnessed too many times when a family would come in Mother’s Day with a lily, and within thirty minutes, they are leaving. The same with Christmas, they arrive Christmas Eve with poinsettias and leave within a few minutes they do not want to disrupt their own lives by spending too much time with who should be their “loved” ones. It is at this stage of life that the residents of the complex transfer slowly from walking to wheelchair, walker or cane. Now, we all may get in that position during an illness, but we fight each time to return to being as active as possible. Many are happy to sit in front of their TV all day as age progresses; this brings on the final days quicker.

However, after all is said and done one cannot help getting older and go through the various stages of life to reach their final destination. Moreover, for all that I have written, I am thankful that I can remain mentally productive and continue to do what I have always dreamed of doing upon retirement, write, publish and enjoy my days with hope for a long and happy future. With that being said, it is in these living situations that we reach the end of our journeys; I wrote a short poem that started the entire premise of this post.

Angel Wings

How sweet is the foreboding, yet dying can be a beautiful sight. Even though it can be hard to bear, the thoughts are wonderful of one’s soul floating to Heaven on God’s golden air.

Family and friends gather sitting close to the hearths, angels waiting nearby; love ones questioning…why!

Death is something that is impossible to prepare, the angels try to fill the room with loving care. Love ones watch with a fallen tear…listen can you hear the angels sing. Another soul given their wings.

 

 

©2019.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

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Never Ending Vacation from Life…#127

 

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Never Ending Vacation from Life…

There are times when the inter-self believes that to survive; it must find the strength to run away. Retreating invades the mind each day. It is not always a question of whether to leave or stay with the physical body. The mind will say that departure from life is the only way. A dream of escaping a crestfallen existence starts threatening emotions. Yearning to create happiness on more than a fabrication of the Imagination.

 
A misplaced soul not always filled with treasured memories, because life has not been kind. Age is not a factor in being unsure of what path life will take; living at times in tormented moments is tiring and emotional. Fading souls find that life is hanging onto the tail of a spinning world trying not to slip into a dark abyss of fear. Struggling between reality and imaginary subsistence.

 
It is in silence that most turn inward, back to the secret hiding place, deep within the core of self-preservation. A place where peace abounds, fear subsides, outwardly knowing true happiness will never be found. When there are no longer reasons to chase after dreams, these lost souls believe that only in death will they find truth.

 
Only with death, will the tree of happiness bear fruit. Dreams of escaping a crestfallen existence may be contemplated as a never-ending vacation. Yet, it must be known as a false consideration, a delusional unhappiness, a fabrication of the imagination. Existence is precious, life is to be live to the fullest each day, enjoy the happy moments and the unhappy ones will soon fade away.

©2019.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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Shattered…#123

 

 

Old Homeplace Barn
Old Homeplace Barn

Shattered…

On a warm summer day, an old soul returned to a place where a part of it remained for years. Waiting while misplaced pieces of it floated through life on waves of tears. Many gathered on this day all had the same ancestral blood flowing through their veins. Some came out of respect, the unbroken circle came for gain.  These mortals had tried to keep the old soul away from this final commemoration. They did not care about its many years of painful isolation.

Death had not fractured the unbroken circle, gone unchanged for years. The return of this old soul brought to the cloistered flock panic and fear.  Disregarded, invisible with no right to be heard, unwanted at birth, then cast out on a painful journey at an incredible cost. To penetrate the unbroken circle was a battle that would forever be lost. The old soul believed it was a time to grieve, a time to pray. A time to remember when an innocent soul was simply forgotten, tossed away.  On soft breezes, those that gathered

could be heard with a pretense of moans. Their voices echoed memorials where truth was silenced the real story hidden, inside of the unbroken circle forbidden. The old soul stared down at a mound of dirt waiting for love that the grave could not offer, while the unbroken circle gathered and divided the coffers.

A loving soul had returned to where a part of it remained for years. It gathered up the pieces of its heart and wiped away the tears. The shattered old soul had returned on that warm summer day. To grieve the loss of never hearing “I love you” or feeling a gentle touch. It needed to tell the unbroken circle when one is unloved their lives are crushed.

©2019.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree
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As a Child I Prayed it was the Way…#119

 

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As a Child I Prayed, it was the Way…

Knarred pines below the mountain where we lived were living gravestones on the
land we called home high above them was the kudzu-shrouded caves where I played with constant skinned knees, Hoarfrost eyes and long black braids. Below this mountain was hallowed ground and beneath decaying pine needles the bleached bones of my ancestors lay hidden in the mounds.

My Great-grandmother whom we all call “Ma” said the mountain was like a cathedral, a place where she took me every morning to pray, she told me that it was our way. As the night shadows disappeared in the mornings golden rays, we raised our palms toward the sky to bless another day.

Ma’s voice strong and clear begin to chant in her native tongue the words robust and bold; it came from deep within her as if orchestrated by her Soul. Floating across the mountains scarred face her mantra rose to the Great Mystery – her God, she said that I must always honor this sacred place.

She told me that the sounds of a waking earth should reminded us of how the world came to be, her prayers spoke of rebirth and how our Souls would someday be free. We walked through emerald grass damp with morning dew, the unseen breeze kissed our face, and she believed that with the beginning of each morning our life was once again renewed.

We hurried to the creek behind our tarpaper shanty to wash away all of Yesterday’s sorrows. I held her hand wishing that this were how our lives would always be, that I would never grow up and she would never grow old, and it would always be Ma and me. Yes when I was a child my Great-grandmother taught me many lessons about life, it was the way.
©2019.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

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Infinite Hope…#116

I live in a senior housing complex, although the bodies are aging and most minds are unclear I watch as those around me live their last days with an attitude that the young does not have for the wisdom of these people comes with years of experience in living. It is the holidays that are filled with sadness when memories come flooding back; they send many to places that they visited long ago. I embrace living with the varied personalities and ages. I chose to live in harmony with those much like me, yet I see many who have given up on life, I find it a tragedy. For those I wrote this poem.

 

Infinite Hope…

What does one do in these bad times, my mind that of an old woman, I clear my soul each day. It is in old age that we try to be kind, in younger days we walk through life without worry and blind. Youth to old age, life passionate and wild, yet within time the elderly returns to the days of a child. I do not ask from my bed of death to be free, I do ask that my God let me die in dignity.

I ask that death allow me to find the freedom that my life denied; that I am strong when my family is at my side. Spare me of the whisperings of a crowded room, that there be a ceremonious air and not one that is gloom. I have lived without glory or fame; no one will remember my name. No one knows when I am bound for death, only God knows when I will take my last breath.

While the world around me in silence lies, move me outside so I can see sunshine once more before I die. Let it bathe me in the wonder that I was born, across my face its beauty spread, like the sun I ask only for your smiles of love when I am dead. I pray for no sickroom, no mortal strife, no turmoil for a little breath, let it be a natural passing, no struggling with death.

Let me go composed, fearless, mind clear, willing to let my spirit go somewhere else to wait for everyone that to me is so dear.

 

 

©2019.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

 

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