Chattahoochee Child — Saga Continues…


Chattahoochee Child
Barbie Perkins-Cooper
Copyright 2014

Walking around the flower displays at the exhibit hall of the Coastal Carolina Fair, I inhaled the aromatic smells of pale orange roses. Garrett touched a rose petal. I tapped his hand.

“You aren’t supposed to touch them,” I scolded. He laughed, stepping back.

“Coral roses are my favorites,” I whispered, my mind rushing back to the first time I received roses. Garrett was in Vietnam. We were celebrating our first anniversary alone while he fought the war. The roses were delivered in a long white box. One dozen beautiful, aromatic coral roses that I would cherish for as long as they lived. I was touched by his thoughtfulness in a war zone, so far from home and so alone.

Our marriage started with everything against us. My family made bets that we would be divorced within six months. We proved them all wrong. Although some family members considered us separated when he left for war, I refused to consider us apart. I wrote letters to him every day, sent monthly care packages and lived only for him. The gesture of one dozen roses on our anniversary meant the world to me. I was stepping into a new journey in my life as a young, married woman and I was determined to make this journey a positive one. Although I was only 18-years-old, I had lived a sad, abusive life. I wanted to close the door and never look back. I prayed God would open a window for me and my marriage when I closed the door of abuse.

Admiring the artistry of the displays of flowers, a familiar song played in the background. I listened, singing the chorus while my mind drifted back in time.

I was about five-years-old when I heard the song, “I’ll Be Loving You Always,” playing on the radio while my mother drove Papa’s fishing car, a 1958 pink and white rambler four door sedan. At our house mom marched around, barking orders, screaming at me, demanding me to hurry up. I was the only child home that morning, so I rushed around, grabbing my activity bag in hopes my mother’s mood would change.

Sitting in the front seat of the car, I turned on the radio. We were driving to my paternal grandmother’s house for a visit. Mom appeared a bit agitated that morning, sharp-tongued and impatient. I turned the volume up, listening to the music. Mom sang the lyrics softly. “I’ll be loving you always. With a love that’s true. Always. When the things you’ve planned need a helping hand, I will understand, Always…”

I looked at my mom as she sang. Never have I heard her singing before. I smiled, enjoying this special moment.

Mom glanced over at me. “What are you looking at?” She asked.

“I’m listening to you singing. I’ve never heard you sing before.”

“Stupid child. It’s just a song.”

“It’s a song you like. I can tell, just by watching you.”

“I like the song,” I said… “And when I grow up, I’ll sing it to you and Daddy when I become a singer.”
Mom laughed, a snickering laughter that made me uncomfortable.

“You’re such a silly, foolish child. Don’t you know that love don’t last. That song is stupid.”

Stupid was my mother’s favorite word.

“I believe in love,” I said, lifting my head to look at the gorgeous sunshine beaming into the car. “When I grow up, I’ll fall in love and I’ll sing that song. You just wait.”

“For a five-year-old you sure have some stupid dreams. You ain’t never gonna be a singer. You’re gonna be just like me…Married to a man who beats you, and having babies again.”

My mother was pregnant again, and not happy about it.

“I’ll get married, and I’ll have a baby, but I’ll never let a man hit me. Never.”

Walking around the displays of flowers at the fair, I listened to the song, wiping a tear from my eyes. This was the first time in many years that I cried over the loss of my mother. I sat on a bench, buried my head in my hands so I could wipe my face. Garrett joined me.

“Why are you crying?” He reached for my hand.

“That song. It brought back memories of my childhood and my mother, on one of her good days. That was her favorite song.”

Garrett wiped a tear from my face.

“She was singing that song in the car as she drove to my paternal grandmother’s house. I was only five-years-old, but I remember her saying she was having another baby again. It was one of her good days. That song changed her demeanor. She actually smiled.”

Later that night, I grabbed Garrett, hugging him tightly, thanking him for having a fun day with me. Our marriage was slowly improving for the better. I sang the song “Always,” over and over in my mind until I fell asleep. The next morning, the song replayed in my mind. I went to the special window in my home, the wide open window next to my desk. The window I sat by listening to fog horns in the distance. The window that beams sunshine on me. I looked up to the sky, curious if my mother was attempting to communicate to me from the grave.

“Are you there, Mom?” Tears fell from my eyes while the lyrics of “Always” continued playing.

There’s a reason for this memory to be replaying again and again, but I don’t know what it could be. Could it be my mother making the attempt to apologize and say that she loved me? Was it just a coincidence that we walked into the flower exhibits as that song started to play? I’d like to believe this happened for a reason. In 1978, I cut the chords between my mother and me, after another verbal dispute where she told my son I was a whore, nothing more. Leaving her filthy home, I chose only to speak to her when there was a funeral or family tragedy.

During her illness, I was caring for my terminally ill father. When my mother died in 2002, I was dreadfully ill and could not attend her funeral.

“I’ll be loving you, always.
Days may not be fair Always.
That’s when I’ll be there, Always.
Not for just an hour.
Not for just a day.
Not for just a year,
But Always.”

The lyrics of “Always” touched me more than I anticipated. It had been over twenty years since I cried over the estrangement and loss of my mother, and today, the tears rushed down my face like an endless waterfall. I’ve always believed that those we have lost can communicate with us again. Today was that day. My psychic abilities were a gift from my maternal grandmother who could predict good and bad things happening to us and others. Repeatedly, I have had dreams about someone dying, only to realize the death had happened. Two days before Benjamin broke our engagement, I dreamed that he was breaking up with me. When the letter arrived, I was not surprised. When Garrett was in Vietnam, I awoke in the middle of the night fearful for his life. I circled the date and time on my calendar, staying awake the rest of the night to write him a letter. Twenty days later, a letter from him arrived confirming that he was involved in a battle where he was in the jungle fighting while struggling to keep the communication lines working. In my dream, I visualized him in a thick jungle going deeper and deeper into battle. The more I strove to get closer to him, the thicker the jungle became and I knew just from this visual dream that he was in trouble. I compared the date of his letter and the date circled on my calendar. They matched perfectly. Another vision was a reality.

Early July 6, 1999, at 3:45 in the morning, I dreamed my dad was dying. I phoned the nursing home to have them check on him, telling them I’d had another dream of his death. By now, the nursing home was accustomed to these phone calls. They reassured me he was fine. That afternoon, at 5:45 pm, I approached the doorway of my dad’s room, only to meet a nurse who was entering with an oxygen tank. “Oh, God no,” I cried. At 6:00, my dad died.

On September 9, 2001, I dreamed about several men dressed in long trench coats, dark-skinned with thick black beards, entering two planes. The planes crashed killing every one on board. Another group of men, armed with weapons, wearing trench coats approached beach crowds, shooting the families and beach bums relaxing on the beach. Two days later, I awoke to the tragedies of 9-11-01. Coincidence? Visions? Perhaps.

Visions were part of my life. Each time I had them, I recognized the psychic abilities I possessed were a reflection and a gift of who I was in life. No doubt, I was a witch.

Yes, my mother was communicating to me. Perhaps she was apologizing and the lyrics of the song, “I’ll Be Loving You Always,” were her way of letting me know that in death she recognized her cruel behaviors were due to the unhappiness she had in her life. Perhaps through the compelling lyrics expressing her love, “Always” she was communicating her love to me. Sitting at my desk, I found the song on YouTube, playing it over and over.

Today was a new day. A day to believe that now, in death, my mother loved me, Always.

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