The SLOG of Joy

Grumble. Growl. Grunt.

.   Swear. Sweat. Stomp.

. Punch. Pound. Pant.

.  Breathe. Binge. Boss.

.  Shout. Scream, Smear.

.  Fall in a heap, exhausted. Then get up, clean up, and do it all over again.

.  There is joy in this. This “living” we do. No matter how sweaty, or dirty, or ugly, this “living” is a beautiful thing.

.   There is no ‘give up’ here, no ‘quit’ , no ‘over it, no ‘packing it in’.

This is where every. breath. matters.

.    DO YOU HEAR ME?

EVERY BREATH MATTERS.

Right now, in my little trailer in the middle of down, down, way down and out USA, I am deciding to care. I am deciding that my sufferings will amount to something, that all this silence and fear and worry  in my heart will be done away with, that with this breath of life my Creator blessed me with will be used to help someone else live, too.

.  I know I’m a rag-tag mess. I can’t think straight most of the time, and there are days I can’t leave my house. I am oppressed by an illness that tells me I don’t have it, and that feeling like I’m sick is a sin. I’m not exhausted, it tells me, I’m lazy. I’m not in excruciating pain, I’m a dope seeker. I was not abused, assaulted and raped, I was promiscuous.

.  I am here, I am now, and with my God’s help, I will reach out to someone else. And with my God’s help, I will not believe the lies. Instead I believe the Bible, God’s own letter to me, and to all his children. I want to live.

THE PAIN of it ALL

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What do I say to a black mother whose son was murdered at the hands, or knee, of a white man?

.   I saw George dying, in front of all the world, murdered. Every fiber of my being cried out for action to save him, knock that cop off of him, hurt those who were hurting him, scream “STOP!!!!!” at the loudest volume my wind and stretching vocal cords could scream. I saw him die. I could see the actual moment the life left him, we all could. His killer’s arrogance galled me, I cried as if George was my own. Those awful, endless minutes are now emblazoned on my conscience, and the world’s. But George’s suffering was finally over, the pain had ended for him. His family’s pain goes on.

.    My daddy died unjustly, and it took years for my anger and pain to subside. But, then, I am white. And it wasn’t a police organization, or even a police man who killed him. For me it was a hospital, who killed him just as surely as if they kneeled on his neck. And he was a Sicilian man, very dark complected, 1st generation borne of immigrants to this country, but I suppose he will be considered a “white” man by history.

.   But the pain I felt is the same pain George’s loved one’s feel in this sense: there was death, it was not natural, there was injustice, and there is anger. I feel it now, these years later. I was righteously indignant, I loved my daddy more than any girl ever loved her daddy, ever in the whole world. Whole universe I thought. I never saw his flaws, he was a hero to me, and they murdered him, and someone had to pay. I had to make it right , for him. For his memory.

 Dad and Kiko
Another Day in Paradise

.   They hated me at that hospital, I believed. They had been out to get him, because we were poor, and because everyone knows doctors and hospitals only want one thing, right? Money. And we all know that there are very baaaad people in the medical field, there is a long, very, very long history of distrust in the Sicilian immigrant community against the “establishment”. It carried down from tyranny and mafioso, in the “home” country, where my ancestors were murdered and enslaved and oppressed by terrible injustice. Not only was the regime murderous and corrupt, even the local officials were, requiring payoffs and inflicting gross injustice and physical pain on the poor people who were supposed to be under their care. They had no choice, starve, be murdered, or board ships of misery with their last pennies to try living in a beckoning land across the great sea.

.  My granparents had experienced the ghettos in New York when they arrived, cramped, dirty, unlit, no facilities, living in dark, dank, freezing, stinking tenant housing in their new country. Now, instead of their tropical isle, where they knew the enemy, there were new enemies to contend with. Such hatred, such predjudice, such injustice, such poverty. All these conditions shaped the mentality of generations, the distrust of the “system”, the lack of eqaulity, the oppression…

.   My father was an angry man. For as far back as I have memory, he was mad at what he perceived as injustice in government. In another age pehaps he would have been a radical, I dont know. But he worked so hard, all his life, had  access to more education than his parents ever had, served in the military and was able to move to Florida in his early 50’s. which had been his lifelong dream. He never stopped working, even then, and I had everything I needed as his kid, except love. But I adored and idolized him, to my mother’s dismay. When I became his sole caregiver, he was my child, and I determined to never let anything bad happen to him. For all the grief I had put him through in my life as an addict, now that I was sober I would appease his every whim, and ease his Dementia and Alzheimer’s. He was my reason for being, for except for my dear shih-tzu’s I had lost everyone in my family, and had no children.

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Always a Dapper Dad

.    I was a she-bear when it came to his care. Endless research, talking to pro’s and others  on caring for the elderly. But no matter what I promised him, no matter how good I cared for him, and no matter how totally committed I was in my devotion, I was not able to save him from being killed.

.   So, then. What can I say to the millions of traumatized, oppressed, angry people who are fighting right now? They will do what they believe they must, to find relief for their anger. But to the loved ones of a man who died unjustly, there is something I can say, even in my proverbial “whiteness”:  I am so, so sad for you.  I can relate. I can relate to the sickening feeling in your gut, that horrendous hot ball of lead where your heart used to be. I  remember the anger, the absolute bursting feeling of helplessness, the burning knowledge that this should never have happened to your child, your son, your daddy, your husband, your brother, your uncle, your nephew, your cousin, your dear, dear friend. Your Beloved.   

.   My pain was real… Your’s is all too real right now. I will never question your pain, or think I know what you should feel, or do. I never want to exaccerbate your suffering. everyone grieves in a different way, for different lengths of time, for different reasons. there is never a right or wrong way to grieve. I wish you peace, someday…healing…a lessening of this great burden you carry.

.   My anger  was only relieved by my learning the true reason for death, suffering and in justice. Knowing and believing in the the knowledge that God will soon do away with the true source of the evils we experience as humans. the tormenter of us down thru the ages, all the way back to the garden of Eden. The father of the lie, Satan.

God had an answer to Satan’s lie right there on the spot: Jesus Christ, God’s Only-Begotten Son and The King of God’s Kingdom would crush Satan and throw him and all his cohorts into the Abyss!! It will happen very soon, when God says it is time! Then the words of Revelation will come true!

Revelation 21:3-5 reads:

.  ” With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them , and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them.(4)And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”

(5) And the One seated on the throne said:”Look! I am making all things new.” Also he says:”Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

.   Such beautiful words…a beautiful dream, perhaps? No. A promised reality from our God who cannot lie, whose purposes always succeed, and whose prophecies always come true. I have a favorite scripture about the surety of all God’s promises coming true, maybe because I am a farmer at heart, who has always loved the rain.

.   This is in the Bible book of Isaiah, in Chapter 55, beginning in verse 8: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” declares Jehovah. (9) “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (10) For just as the rain and snow pour down from heaven And do not return there until they saturate the earth, making it produce and sprout, Giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,(11) So my word that goes out of my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, But it will certainly accomplish whatever is my delight, and it will have sure success in what I send it to do.”

.   Yes, The Creator of the entire Universe has everything taken care of, he has told us that he will be the only Judge, and His Son will carry out his Judgement.  The Ride of the Four Horsemen is already well underway.  One day soon our dead loved ones will be resurrected and what joy there will be, when this earth is finally free of evil and we will live forever in peace.Artwork and Pictures 056

.  Please take the time to learn what the Bible says, I want you to have the peace of mind and heart that I finally found. It is not too late, my friend.

I Will Tell the Truth Now

I will make a huge effort to tell the truth. I always fluff things up, until I am not even sure what my truth is. My Dad was a SUPER Exaggerator , and an Embellisher of the highest order, and I hung on his every word. I could see others staring up at him, eyes widened with amazement, intaken breath ready to burst out at the first opportunity… Then the woosh of exhalations and nervous laughter, trying to hide their excitement , pretending to their girlfriends that they already knew what he was going to say. They would kind of nudge each other and tilt their head at Dad, like he was their trick pony. But he had them ALL wrapped around his little finger, they couldn’t wait for his next story to start. And neither could I.

I wanted to have people hanging on MY every word, I wanted to be the hero in MY stories, and I wanted my Dad to love me more than anyone else in my life. It just seemed that part of his over-the-top charism hinged on his elevated status in his own mind too. He never had time for me, for any of us kids, or even Mum. He revolved around his own Sun, and basked in His own glow.

We just floated past like tiny moons.

a rainy day…missing you.

When I finally realized how little truth he told, it was years later. I was a grown woman, and my life had taken a long, arduous detor into hard drugs, hatred and homelessness. I had tried to destroy myself in every way imaginable, and nearly succeeded in some instances. There was a gradual awakening to the fact that I could never run far or fast enough to leave my memories behind, nor could I continue to carry the loathing I felt for myself and keep living.

I loathed my Daddy too. It was all his fault , really. If he had just NOTICED me. Or spoken to me, besides “good morning” and a whack on the back as he passed by. Maybe then I would have turned out different. …No. It took all those years on the outside to teach me how to live. To learn that he was as broken as me. That everyone is broken, and that the act of living is an act of mercy. To allow ourselves to heal, honestly. Peel off the Ugly Sweaters of years of Selfishness and Isolation. Take off the Dirty Overcoats of Lonliness and Shame, Step out of the Heavy Combat Boots of Hatred and Self Harm, Skin off the Sweaty Tee Shirt that holds our Sadness in, and let our Hearts breathe.

Let my heart breathe again, let a little sunlight into my greyeyes greyskies. I’m telling you the truth, that I hated my own Daddy, that I LoVe him madly down to this day. I hated myself because I let myself down. I blamed myself for all the badness that found it’s way on top of me. I never told my Daddy that I was Hurt, that I had been raped, that I had been beaten like a dog. How could he know?

It was my burden to carry. You carry your own water…you carry your own water. I wish I could have told him back then. He was my hero. My broken hero. I didn’t know that Daddy’s could be broken too.

I wonder sometimes what will become of me, who can I be a hero to? I think God is telling me something, wait… Oh, yeah, He’s Right! You know what he reminded me? That He is my Father, He is my Hero, and He’s taking care of me right now, and I will be with my Daddy one day soon.

What You Made Me Feel (Blue-Eyed Johnny)

A deep abiding sadness, wistfulness… like watching a deer in the meadow, at dusk

just before that shot rings out.

Beauty/ Pain/ heartbreak/ death

Their young faces haunt me, these young men I have not met.

How strange it all was to them: Surreal Landscape, Unreal Assignments-

You must die taking this hill, then let it go…You must kill,kill,kill..

I am with you there, that bap!! Bap!! of rifle fire throwing hunks of wet earth aloft, making pieces of palm frond dance right over your head.

Over my head.

Over Our Head.

I close my eyes and see their eyes glowing in the jungle dark.

I see your eyes Johnny Boy. Your blue, blue American eyes so wide, wide open.

That mix of righteous fear, and unrighteous courage- A big question mark in your smile, the cigarette dangling from your strong, veined hand, an M-16 cradled like a lover in your arms.

If I die, I die a Hero, not a poor man’s son, not a redneck, not a carpenter, not a iron worker, no, not one…

A baby, only three or four, staring up from my daddy’s floor, to a tiny black and white TV,

Nixon’s face is what I see, then the images will start again:

Bombs will fall, flames will leap, soldiers will yell

I will sleep- to the sound of choppers overhead-they evac you while I’m still in my crib.

Can I wipe the blood from your face, with my long brown hair-

Can I pour perfumed oil on your battle scars, my blue-eyed Johnny?

Can I love you tho’ I was not there, my brother, son, lover, friend?…

Won’t that damn war ever end?

 

(written after a marathon viewing of Vietnam, The Ken Burns documentary on PBS)by Susan T. Martin, October 8,2017, but felt since I saw the images of the Vietnam war on my parent’s TV as far back as I have memory…)(I was born in 1964)

Long Distance Lullaby

Where are you in this world? Are you in a war torn land, alone and wondering if anyone knows you are out there? Don’t worry- I know you are there. And I care that you are there. I want you to know that I am here, knowing you are there.

What are you looking at now? (besides the computer screen, of course…) Is the fridge empty? If you have a refridgerator, that is… I hope it has something in it for you to eat. Sometimes when I am afraid, lonely, or sad, I eat. Maybe a piece of toast, a cup of tea. You could pretend I am sitting there with you, on a normal day, two friends just chatting and having a cup of tea. We would not even have to talk, really. Just sitting together is nice.

Do you have a window to look outside? Maybe a wee patch of sky to see? Some blue, I hope, and a puffy white cloud. If the sky isn’t visible, or doesn’t look happy, you can share mine. (Although it is night here right now.) as we sit quietly, having our tea, I could describe a nice sky to you. I saw a pretty one this evening, soft pinks and  lavender as the sun set. I see you like to take photos- is that your husband in that one?

Oh, your son?  My, is he ever handsome! He’s a soldier in the war! Wow, you must worry constantly! I’m sorry- what a stupid thing to say…um…You don’t look old enough to have a son so grown up. No, really, you look fine. I don’t use much make-up anymore either, but I know you can’t get any where you are. If you were here I would share mine with you, and we could brush each other’s hair. I always find that to be so comforting.

No, I don’t have anyone to brush mine either, I’m divorced. Yeah, he was a bad man, he beat me. Oh, your daughter’s husband is like that? That is too bad. What! He killed her?!

Oh, man, that is terrible- I am so sorry for you. I did not know that went on in your country- and they did not even arrest him? Oh, I don’t know what to say. No, I didn’t know. Let’s just sit, I won’t bring it up. Here, let me hold your hand. It’s ok… there, there…

Me, kids? Oh, no, I don’t have any- wasn’t “in the cards” as they say… No, I wanted them. The truth is I couldn’t have children, no I had an abortion when I was 15.

Please don’t look at me like that- I was too young to understand. And I was abused, sexually, for years… No, it’s alright, I’m not offended.

So, have you had to live alone for long? You husband was killed in the uprising 10 years ago? Oh, my goodness, you really have had a hard time. I understand. You must be so lonely… It’s alright, go ahead and cry- I’m sad and lonely too.. see, now I’m crying!! We can wipe away each others tears, long distance!! No, it’s ok- you don’t have to apologize. Grief can be shared. Let it go, just let all the tears come. It is cathartic, and cleansing.

I’m still here, I haven’t gone anywhere. I will play some soothing music for you- to drown out the sound of the gunfire. Maybe then you could rest a little. That’s good, just shut your eyes a while. I will be here when you wake up.

See, this way I’m not alone either! Goodnight now, my friend. Don’t worry, everything is going to be alright. When you wake up it will be right again, good again. I will be right here, watching out for you…

Shhhh….shhhh……I will be right here.