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“Tears are words that need to be written” -Paulo Coelho

I am not good at crying. I was never comfortable with it. Growing up, when I cried, I was either told to shut up and take it, to be quiet, that I looked funny doing it, or that it made me look ugly. For the last ten years, the ten years since Mom’s passing, I have rarely cried. Now, as I am my dying husband’s care giver, I cry often…not only for what I will lose, but for all that I have lost. My virginity at age five. My son at age fourteen. My hope at age 21. I cry for a father who helped so many and hurt so few. Those few being us, his own family. I cry for my perfectly imperfect mother…a woman who lived in and past fear. I cry for my brother who forced reality down so far that it had no choice but to come bursting up. I cry for my sister. I just cry for all she believes she has lost. I cry for my husband, my one great love, as I watch him try to stay Army strong and dignified. Illness has no dignity. I know as I have been sick most of my life. Death has dignity. Not the moments leading up to it but the passing itself. I held Granny’s hand as she stroked out, then stared into something that I could not see, smiled, and commented that now, after a lifetime of being a stalwart Christian, now she understood. As they say in the South, a Lady always knows when it’s time to leave. I realized while writing this truth that I am no Lady, but I am a woman…a perfectly flawed and naked to my soul, human. You may not like what I have written. You may be uncomfortable with it. But, I have been one acquainted with the world of untruths for far too long. Mulder had it wrong. The truth is not out there, rather it is in us. And, so is God.

Would you like some chai with your tea?

I had the pleasure of visiting my sister, Beth, today. We had a marvelous time of her telling me where and how to stand. (Watching the cogwheels in her brain work as she makes small gestures for she is a small woman is fascinating. It always puts me at ease.)

She elegantly served us both some chocolate chai tea. You know when something just isn’t quite right, but you don’t want to say anything? So you smile awkwardly and watch to see what the other person thinks. Well, Beth’s cogwheels where in a rare, confusing pattern. Hurry, hurry, hurry. Almost dead stop. Then, our eyes met. She wanted to know what I thought of the beverage. I responded that I didn’t know what to think as I had never had chai before. This wasn’t chai; it was chai tea.

A FAKE! I knew I smelled a rat. We nodded to each other. This “tea” wasn’t chocolate or chai; it was a watered down version of the original. With eager anticipation we had waited for the water to boil, the china to be placed, the beverage to cool. All hopes of tastiness thwarted by a fraud. Beth looked frustrated, infuriated, mortified, and slightly embarrassed all at once…and definitely deflated. I felt so sorry for her that I drank all I could, thinking of the Quik, in my purse the whole while. Then, we gave each other a to hell with Covid hug.

I adore my sister tea, chai, or 7-Up!

The Tail Tale Heart

I am of the mind that if you don’t want a dog, don’t get a dog and then torture it with your poor choice or lack of judgment. Yes, I am a must love dogs type of gal. At the moment I have two-Mila, a Collie/Blue Heeler mix who I was sworn to was an American Bully, and Little One, a Staffy or the dreaded Pit. I caught a bumper sticker at Walmart one day that read Show Me Your Pitties. I almost peed myself laughing on the spot.

Do you remember Renco, the company that made as seen on TV infomercials back when the product had only 60 seconds to rope you in? I do. My family does. My father, the business major and teacher, was a gullible, drooling teenager over their products. Unbelievable! His two most laughable purchased gems were The Garden Weasel and The Magic Chain.

The Magic Chain pertains to dogs and people who shouldn’t own them. My family’s backyard backed up to a huge Civil War cemetery. Dad’s hunting dogs’ cages were on the back fence of the property nearest to the cemetery. Not a funeral occurred that those dogs didn’t bark and howl all the way through it. To make matters worse, my ex football coach of a dad would come slamming out the door, storming up the backyard, and screaming strands of curse words bigger than Mom’s mom’s family pearls. Mom hid. My sister and brother hid. I hid.

The Magic Chain would stop it all, dad assured us! He wasn’t sure how it worked; he just knew it did work every time without fail. When the box arrived, we all waited with baited breath for dad to open it and reveal the treasure hidden inside. He was quick about it- no shaking his present or that sort of thing. He pulled out a chain, a piece of paper, and nothing. If dog barks, throw chain at dog. If dog persists, throw harder. The rest of us looked at each other in disgust. We had just weaponized the screamer.

Don’t worry. Mom hid the chain.

Give Me Your Breast Guess

Rant on: I wasn’t going to say anything, but this situation is ridiculous and dangerous. A lump has been found in my breast. I have had all of the tests, and, considering my own and my family’s history of breast cancer, the experts agree it’s cancer. (Biopsies are considered an elective surgery during Covid. Absolutely ridiculous!!! I could rant right here.)

To complicate the matter, after having two lumpectomies in the other breast for cancer, I had an implant inserted which recently ruptured. Now, a painful, silicone sac floats around inside my breast cavity reeking havoc.

The problem lies in that no one wants to touch this two for one surgery due to Covid. BUT, no one wants to perform the CANCER SURGERY either as it is being seen as ELECTIVE!!! Elective??? Really?! Because I am sure I chose to get cancer. I waited at home just hoping it would knock on the door. I find this whole ordeal ludicrous.

One may wonder how I can step out of place and speak of such things. The answer comes quite easily; I don’t give the care of the last feather plucked off of a peacock’s ass who knows.

Saying “No” is Not a No-No

I feel off- not myself. I advocated for myself today, and the whole thing just felt wrong. I sat with this feeling and others for quite a while, and then it hit me. Since my voice, my choice, my song was taken from me right from the start of my life, I don’t know how to speak up for myself. I don’t know how to say “no.” No, this isn’t working. No, I am not being true to me. No, this feels awkward, confusing, forced, frightening, etc.

Now, I have no problem taking up for two people: God and the underdog. God because from those crazy years of torture and abuse to now when I am stricken with the pain of grief, He has never left my side and has never forsaken me. I may have walked away from Him, but He remained and even left the ninety-nine to come and find me. God because He got in the mire and the muck of the abuse with me and ultimately saved me from it, from them.

The underdog is a different story. It’s really my story played out in another person. I see myself in them and the talons come out, and I scratch and scrape to help them out of their pit-or I used to. I got tired along the way. Lost my passion-even for people which was my greatest gift.

I am searching for my passion now. My voice. My song. My story. My strength to say “no” and “enough” and many other powerful magical words. So, if you see any of these things of mine out there, tell them I am coming. Tell them I am on my way back home to me.

Hell Hath No Fury

He had just exited the scene of the crime. My Tweety Bird nightgown was still pulled up to my ears. My cheeks were wet- both of them. My labored breath detected something else moving in my bedroom. Isn’t it funny how you can smell with your tastebuds? I slowly lowered my nightie down into the urine and semen around my waist.

Bubbles. I could see bubbles. They were coming out of its’ mouth and circling my crown. So dizzy. It perched on the end of my bed so full of light that it lit up my room. An angel. God had answered my prayers. He DID care!

It held up a weapon so fierce that I could have my life back. Shiny and sleek. But, I had seen it before. He had one. Its mouth opened and explanations poured out. Your sister and brother are too old. I am too experienced. You are only five. You are still innocent.

It put the gun in my hand. Cold and hot. I liked the way it felt- powerful. It would show me how. Aim at the chest and squeeze the trigger. No more nightgowns choking around my throat. I handled it in my unusually long fingers and built my courage up to say No.

Suddenly, the brilliant angel turned black with clawed talons. Hell glimmered in its eyes and it’s mouth curled out as it mocked my No. Coward. You are just like him- a coward. I remembered my Bible and screamed, “Get behind me, Satan”!

Mom slithered out of my room only to return when the “mood” struck her fancy. My angel had become my demon.

How Dirty Are Your Hands?

I believe that a problem now is that we all have to feel special. I don’t mean special as in unique; God made us all different on purpose and for purpose. I mean special as in entitled which can be very dangerous. I prefer the Shaker motto: Hands to work, hearts to God. My husband died in February. There have been days when just a smile from a stranger has made my day. Helping others is so rewarding for everyone involved. I love James in the NT. I believe in jumping in and getting your hands dirty. Walking by a starving human and saying, “God be with you” just isn’t enough anymore- it never was. But, it makes us feel as if we have fulfilled our moral and religious obligations. In the hymn, “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,” Christ’s lesson of if you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me is personified by a man we see in different types of need. His “helper” can’t understand why he is so drawn to him until the needy man is revealed as Christ. However, only when the man who is truly in need agrees to die for Christ does he realize that his Savior was testing his heart and faithfulness. When we view the hymn in this light, we find ourselves re-examining the story of the Good Samaritan and realizing that Jesus was the man left for dead alongside the road.

All of this being said, we are all called to help one another which is why I don’t trust people with super clean fingernails.

Tall, Dark, and Hands-some

When I was five years old, I fell in love for the first time. He was tall, dark, and handsome. His ears were a bit on the large side and his voice was high, but I didn’t mind one bit. I had the privilege of seeing him at least once a day if not twice! He could sing and dance, and he was so funny. Yes, Mickey Mouse was all that and a bag of chips.

They knew that I would be too excited, so they didn’t tell me. About two nights before we were leaving, my family broke the news to me- WE ARE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD! I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I was not an excitable child by any means- the women in my family wouldn’t have allowed such a thing. But, here I was running back and forth between the den and my bedroom getting all of the appropriate stuffed animals and blankie so that I could ask serious questions. Are alligators real? Do they all live in Florida? Did sharks come in near the coastline? Did they all live in Florida? Would Mickey like my hair better in pigtails or a ponytail? Would Minnie Mouse be around us? Could she handle the competition? You know, things every normal and abnormal little girl asks.

To be continued in This is MY Story, a memoir by Susan Morgan

Sweet Tea with a slice of Thea

Braveheart is one of my favorite films, but, please, let me share a memory.

My sister and I are watching the trailers for Rob Roy and the one for this movie comes on. As the box office plays, they may take our lives, but Thea will never take our freedom. Now, hear what Beth and I heard by replacing lives with wives. Picture me laughing and spitting Coke all over the poor man in front of me.

Join us, as we are discussing Rob Roy during post movie time. I say something like, Ya know, if they took their wives, wouldn’t that…” And, Beth answers, “have given them their freedom?” We both sip our sweet teas and agree as we think and nod, “ Yes.” So, then, “Turn back, lads” would have been a good ending. Yes. Yes.