Chattahoochee Child – Excerpt


Dearest Readers:

Posting a bit of the story I’ve had dancing inside my heart and soul for many years. Too many years to mention. Yesterday, I realized I have to let go and write this. I hope you enjoy.

 

Yesterday, my husband and I went to the theatre to see “I CAN ONLY IMAGINE.” Based on the song, “I CAN ONLY IMAGINE,” recorded by Mercy Me in 1999, I remembered when I first heard this song and how the lyrics affected me. My dad passed away in July, 1999. I was in such a severe depression after losing him, I prayed to die, realizing I was being selfish. I still had life to live. People to care for and love. Visiting with my doctor, she asked if I was suicidal. I laughed, realizing she knew me better than I knew myself.
How can a song affect someone so passionately? Writing this question out, I recognized I failed to have an answer. Kneeling at my special window, I looked up into the Heavens and prayed, only this time, my prayer was different. I asked God to help me live and to learn to forgive.
My mother and I were alienated since 1988. After my high school class reunion, I discovered my mother told our little boy his mother was a whore and a drunk. The morning after the reunion, little Michael David rushed to me asking me what was a whore. “I know what a drunk is since Grandpa in Charleston is a drunk, but I’ve never heard the word whore. What is it, Mommy?”

I scooped his tiny body into my arms and bear hugged him. “Mommy is not a whore. A whore is someone who goes out with other men and sleeps in the bed with them. I’m not a whore, Michael David.”

“Granny called you a whore. But you only sleep in the bed with my daddy, Mommy.”

“It’s not a nice name and it’s a word you should not speak again, at least until you’re grown.”

“Why would she call you that word?”

“Granny doesn’t love Mommy the way you and Daddy love me. That’s a good question, and I will ask her in a minute. You go back to sleep.” I kissed Michael on the cheek, tucking him in with his father. I slipped on my robe, walking toward my mother’s room.

I knocked three times. She opened her eyes. “Why did you call me a whore?” I shouted.

“I did no such a thing.”

“Yes, you did.” Michael stood next to me. “You said my mommy was a whore and a drunk.”

The argument continued for an hour. Garrett awoke to the shouting. Recognizing this conversation would be an eternal shouting match of two stubborn women who butted heads all the time, he said we were leaving. I grabbed our luggage and stormed out of the house, refusing to look back.

I cried an endless ocean of tears from Columbus, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina. Michael David apologized for starting the argument. I responded that he was not the problem. My life as a child of the Chattahoochee, the daughter of a woman who could not show love at all, was the problem. The only solution was to build my life with my family, Garrett, and Michael.

In 1988, I realized home is where the heart is. My heart was in Charleston, not Bibb City, or the Chattahoochee. My life in Charleston was filled with suburban roots, and a solid brick foundation, not a detour route of housing projects, mill villages, shouting matches and nothing to refer to as home. The windows to my world reflected love, pride, and ambition. I pinched myself to bring myself back to reality. I did not wish to remember the annoying disconnections I shared with my mother, nor did I want to walk in her footsteps.

I lost my mother on September 11, 2002. She died a ‘questionable death,’ after battling to survive a stroke. Since that time, I’ve discovered she choked to death by inhaling nuts. My mother was allergic to nuts. Her body was paralyzed on the right side. How she was able to inhale nuts and choke to death is a question I need answering. When my sister phoned me telling me of her passing, the one question she repeated to me was: Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?

Interesting question I failed to understand since I was ill with acute bronchial asthma at the time and failed to comprehend what my sister was asking.

Do you think they’ll do an autopsy? Interesting question…

I can only imagine!DSC_0061
 

Weight Watchers Is Not a Diet – It’s A Community of People…


Dearest Readers:

This will probably be a short posting about something we learned at the Weight Watchers meeting Thursday, March 8, 2017. Two of my closest friends in Charleston are Tammy and Sara. Neither were at the meeting on Thursday…Just me, my shadow and other friends I’ve met thru Weight Watchers. Tammy moved to Florida a few months ago. How I miss her. Sara is out of town. We are keeping in touch and I need to send Tammy a text – something we do lately on Thursdays.

On Thursday, I lost .06 pounds. I’ll take it, I said – finally happy to be losing again. I hit plateaus that seem to last FOREVER. My goal was to lose 15 pounds by my class reunion in May. Since I lose so slowly, I do not believe I’ll achieve that goal, so now, I’m saying I’d love to lose five pounds by May. I’m hopeful the dress I bought two years ago will fit. I’ll let you know about that goal IF I wear it to the reunion. More on that – Later!

Looking around our meeting room at Weight Watchers I realized I joined this amazing group of ladies, and a few men, seven years ago. Back then, I wanted to achieve my ‘goal weight’ that year. Believe me, I’m still struggling to achieve that goal weight — WHATEVER the goal weight is for me. No one has mentioned I should weigh this ___, or I should weigh that ___! I realized it is up to me, and maybe my doctor, to select my goal weight; nevertheless, If (and WHEN) I reach that number, I will weigh less than I weighed in high school. I confess, during the four years of high school, I attended six high schools!  No, I wasn’t the kind of student to be kicked out of school. Changing high schools so many times was simply because my parents moved us as a family, and when I was 15, my parents separated and divorced, so we moved to Columbus, GA – to a mill village.

Needless to say, my teenage life was a life filled with stress, the inability to make friends, and many unpredictable situations I’ve written about on this blog. Fortunately, I graduated from high school and now, I’m happy to have a fulfilled life in Charleston, SC.

As mentioned, losing weight is not an easy task for me. Now, I’m back to working out and using the Freestyle of Weight Watchers.

During our meeting on Thursday, someone mentioned that Weight Watchers IS NOT A DIET…IT’S A COMMUNITY! How interesting and true that statement is. We have ladies (and a few men) wanting to lose weight. One special lady has been ‘lifetime since she was 17!’ She’s had many setbacks, but to look at her now, she is beautiful, slim and such an inspiration, especially to me. Other women have fought and struggled many times. Just like ME! Nevertheless, all of these Weight Watchers admitted they could not lose weight alone. They had to attend meetings! They had to face the scale once weekly, and they had to keep attending meetings. So like me! A beautiful lady sitting next to me stated she had her son’s wedding coming up so she understood my goal of ‘knocking ’em dead.’

I must confess, in high school I was a wallflower. My parents were divorcing. We lived with our maternal grandparents in a two-bedroom mill village house – with one bathroom. No washer, or dryer. No air conditioning. Simply a TINY house of brick and mortar. I did not make many friends in high school, nor did I date high school guys! Why would I? If I did, we as a family would pack up and move again. We lived like gypsies. Never having a home that would build me into the woman I am today. When I go back to my ‘home town’ I do not have any roots to remember. NOTHING. I thank God I survived and didn’t end up as a child with many problems. I credit that reality to my stubbornness, determination and independence and attending church regularly!

The one indiscretion I did have, and still have is the hunger for food. My grandmother made the most fluffy and delicious homemade biscuits ever. They seemed to just melt in my mouth and each time she made them, I ate my share. After my husband’s heart surgery in 1998, I changed the way I cooked, learning to cook healthier. Fortunately, I never learned to make Grandma’s homemade biscuits. Each time I tried, my husband called them hockey pucks. I do believe his description is correct!

My friends still ask me, “Are you STILL doing Weight Watchers?”

Yes. I’m still doing Weight Watchers and when I reach Lifetime, I will continue attending the meetings on each Thursday. I remind myself: This I do for ME! Nothing interrupts my Thursday meetings. I will miss my meeting when we go to my class reunion, but the next week I’ll get back on that scale again, still seeking “Lifetime!”

After all – for me, Weight Watchers IS A COMMUNITY. A community of encouraging women (and a few men) — haven’t I said that before? Even if we, as a community, have only five, 10, 20, 30, 40 or even 50 pounds to lose, together we can do this. I have anchors I use to remind me to continue. One of my anchors is a poem I repeat daily:

“It’s when things seem worse, you mustn’t quit,” and I say: “This too shall pass,” whenever I gain. I’ve learned not to beat myself up when I am not successful, and I keep reminding myself that Weight Watchers is what I do for me. No one else. No, I’m not working out daily and doing my best to lose weight for my husband, family, or shame. I am doing this for me. I look in the mirror daily. I wear makeup – DAILY. I style my hair – DAILY and now, I do my best to be accountable and to accept whenever I gain, or lose only “.06 of a pound.” A loss is a loss, I tell myself. Together, as a community WE can do this!

After all, Weight Watchers IS my life now! Next Thursday, I’ll be at the meetings. And the next….and the NEXT….continuing my journey to lose my weight, and to look the best that I can look at the class reunion and beyond!

Yes, I’m vain. I want to look the best I can look – for eternity and ‘beyond!’DSC_0061

 

Today I Met Mama Grinch…


Dearest Readers:

People are so interesting, especially during the holiday season. About 30 minutes ago, I was standing in the overcrowded line at Dollar Tree. I noticed a woman slowly pushing her cart into the line. She was an elderly woman with gray hair. Her face was wrinkled, reminding me of a crinkled road map. She had an angry smirk on her mouth. Maybe Santa Claus brought her a bunch of coal this year. She hugged the cart, probably for support. I could easily imagine this woman using this cart to keep her balance.  Of course, being the shy person that I am NOT, I spoke to her to let her know the end of the line was several people behind me.

She glared at me and spat: “I know where the end of the line is. You don’t have to tell me that.”

“Well excuse me, Ma’am. Happy New Year.”

When the second cashier opened a register, I kept my eyes on it. If that woman even attempted to break into the line to get service quicker, I was ready for her. Even with my boots on I knew I could move quicker than Mama Grinch. I was prepared to tell the cashier other people have been in the line longer than she. That woman is not the ‘next person in line.’

Was I wrong? NO. Was I rude? NO. I was prepared to speak up.

I was raised to respect my elders, but today – I think I’ve lost a little respect. My message to this slump shouldered, stout, grouchy Mama Grinch is simple: “Just because you are old doesn’t mean you need to be ugly!”

Think I’ll pray for Mama Grinch today, adding her to a growing list I pray for every night. Another little tidbit of advice taught to me by my maternal grandmother. As an elderly woman I never heard her be rude to anyone. As for Mama Grinch, maybe she needs to stand in a corner and change her rude, angry attitude.

Isn’t it sad to see so many elderly people so angry with themselves? Maybe Mama Grinch was all alone on Christmas Day.  So sad.

Yes, I’ll pray for all the angry elderly woman, hopeful she will find peace and happiness.

Happy New Year!

 

DSC_0027

Happy Birthday, Walter Perkins – My Dad


Dearest Readers:

On December 19, 1914, two identical twins were born in Michigan. Lewis Eugene and Walter W. Perkins. Never did I have the honor to know Uncle Lewis. He died at 26-years-of-age from Bright’s Disease. I believe it is an inflammation of the kidneys. After his death, my father reportedly changed to a sad, miserable man. He and his identical twin were inseparable until Uncle Lewis died.

I lost my dad to esophageal cancer on July 6, 1999. I confess, a part of my heart died on that day. My dad and I were bonded. During his terminal illness, I visited him daily at the convalescent center and hospital, unless I was sick with my episodes of bronchial asthma.

Today, I would like to wish my dad and Uncle Lewis an early happy birthday in Heaven. No doubt, tomorrow will be a sad day for me; nevertheless, I will focus on the memories we made. Singing together. Teaching me to harmonize. Sharing my poems and other stories with him, and hearing him say on WCSC Channel 5 during an interview, “No. I’m not the writer. My daughter, Barbara, now she’s the writer!” My heart melted when I heard him say that. Finally, he was proud of me!

Our life together during my childhood wasn’t a good one. From the age of five-years-old, until I was 15, I served as the referee between my mother and my dad. Their marriage was a volatile marriage, filled with “I hate you…How I wish you were dead…I wish to God I’d never married you… You’re nothing but a bastard!” From both parties the hatred poured from their lips like steaming hot volcano ashes rolling vibrantly onto the grounds. Poisons. Poisons from lips without love or any form of happiness. During my childhood, I believe their angers, hatreds and tumultuous physical battles were protected within our home. I do not believe my grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends of the family knew about the dreadful, dangerous domestic battles my parents fought. Secrets. Protected, never to be shared, until now. I knew not to say anything. If I did, my mother would come after me, slapping, knocking and pulling my hair out. If I wanted to live, my lips must remain closed.

Finally, at fifteen, I stood between them for the last time, telling them one of you needs to leave this marriage and this house. You’ve always hated each other… The next day, my father packed up and left. My mother spat at me telling me she hoped I was happy now. Their marriage was over and it was all my fault.

I rushed into my room. Never confronting her. Never calling my dad. I pondered my heartache inside while praying I would see my dad once again, and I would sing with him again. He visited us after the divorce. He rushed to hug me, something he never did until the bitter divorce. Gone were the shouting and fighting matches. My father had finally found out he was a ‘better man,’ as for my mother — her poisonous tongue spilled hatred to me every time she could. Shouting matches. Slapping my face. Pulling my hair until clumps of my hair fell into her hands. Never did I share these shattered, horrifying days with anyone.  I was taught to be seen, but not heard. How I detested whenever we visited family members. I was told to “say hello. Give a hug and keep your damned mouth shut.”

And so, I did!

To escape the misery of my teenage years, I married at 17. After moving to Charleston, Dad and I became much closer. When he was 68, in 1982, we moved him to Charleston to be closer to a family member. I delighted in caring for him and visiting him in his apartment until 1988 when I had to find a job to save my home and family. My job was demanding, working 40 hours plus, including weekends.

In 1997, during the holidays, Dad became ill. In December, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He chose to battle the debilitating cancer until his death in July, 1999. During that time, we made wonderful memories. I changed jobs, so I could spend more time with Dad. I watched the wonderful, happy man he became and I loved him even more than he, or anyone, could imagine.

The week before his death, he sat in his room at the nursing home, reading his Bible, praying for God to ‘take me home.’ He was spiteful with me. Almost cruel, according to his roommate, Mr. Dudley. Dad would move his hands, telling me to leave his room. Although it hurt, I swallowed my pride and listened to him doing his best to detach from me. He did not want me around when he died.

On July 6, 1999, as I walked towards his room, I met a nurse, pushing an oxygen tank. “Oh no,” I managed to say, “that isn’t a good sign.” She nodded and when she and I placed our hands on the door of Dad’s room, I knew the moment of his passing had arrived.

I screamed. Cried. Hysterically, I sat in a chair, across from Dad’s room and I listened. The nurse wanted to know if I wanted them to ‘bring him back.’ I said No. He’s a DNR. Please do not resuscitate him. Let him go. He was praying to die soon.

Nineteen years ago, according to birthdays, my father celebrated his birthday now as an identical twin. No doubt, he and Uncle Lewis have caught up and replenished their lost years. I can picture them singing in the Heavenly choirs, inseparable and happy together.

Today, I would like to celebrate Walter and Lewis Perkins, better known as the Perkins Twins a wonderful Happy Birthday. Now, 103 years-of-age December 19 will be a joyous celebration in Heaven. I can hear my dad singing harmony with Uncle Lewis, probably singing Amazing Grace together while celebrating their reunion and Christmas.

As for me, I will be busy wrapping Christmas packages and maybe going out to get more Christmas goodies for our pups and for Phil. I always keep myself extra busy on December 19. While I am happy for my father to be reunited with Uncle Lewis and with God, I miss him.

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Angel Oak Tree, a gorgeous tree embracing Johns Island, SC

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to the Perkins Twins. Oh, Dad — how I miss you!

In memory of:

THE PERKINS TWINS

Lewis and Walter – Identical Twins

Separated by death at age 26;

Reunited with God’s love at 84.

Holding the gates to Heaven’s Door.

 Missing and Loving you both —

Walter’s Daughter – Barbara

 

 

Sexual Assault/Molestation – My Story #MeToo


Dearest Readers:

Today I am writing about a topic close to my heart. A secret. Well, not after today’s post.

Listening to many current events, I am finding the courage to come forward about a subject, once closed. Another of those topics considered “a family matter.” Maybe I am finally finding the courage to share these experiences now since the issue is in the news. If you follow current events, I’m certain you’ve heard the accusations regarding Harvey Weinstein. Allegations of molestation…Rape…Sexual assault. And on…and on.

Many of these stories I haven’t read thoroughly. I get angry, and then, I have dreams, actually nightmares. Nightmares I want to toss into the trash, or delete from a keyboard. It is a bit difficult to delete these tragic events from one’s mind, so for many, many years I kept quiet. Never mentioning my sexual assaults.

Last night, I awoke, talking in my sleep. While I do not recall the entire “nightmare” I heard my voice saying “Stop it! Don’t touch me. Let me go! Stop it. STOP IT!”

When I was fifteen-years-old, I was sexually molested. I remember it just like it was yesterday. My parents were in the middle of a bitter, volatile divorce. My mother would tell me to “Never trust a man. They only want you for one reason, and when they’re through with you, they’ll toss you away like yesterday’s trash. That’s just what your daddy is doing to me. Throwing me away. I hate him, and I hate you. See what you’ve done. Your daddy wouldn’t divorce me now if you left us alone. I hate you and Him!”

Yes. It’s true. I caused my parents to divorce, after separating both of them while in a tumultuous fight. Arriving home from school, I heard shouting. My bedroom was across from their room. Leaving my bedroom door open, I listened to them shouting words of hatred to each other. The fight continued for a while, then – silence. I knocked on their door. No one responded, so I opened the door.

My mother was gasping for breath. Her face was blue. My father had his back turned, then he threw a pile of mail at my mother.

“What’s going on?” I said. “I heard the fighting.”

It wasn’t the first time my parents fought. I had served as their referee since I was five-years-old. My mother stumbled to a chair.

I picked up the mail, noticing “Past Due and Final Request” stamped on some of the bills.

“She’s gone and spent money again. Money I don’t have. There’s a letter from an attorney. If I don’t pay these bills, my wages will be garnished.”

I wasn’t surprised. My mother could not handle finances and when she wanted something, she purchased rings, and other items on credit cards.

Suddenly my mother rose from the chair, heading in his direction. She balled her fist, shaking it while cursing him. Dad rushed to her, hitting her. She fell. I rushed to her aid, shouting at my father, telling him he needed to stop hitting her. If he wanted to hit someone, he could hit me. I’ve seen my father’s anger many times, but today was the worst.

I stood between them, hands extended like a referee. “Don’t touch my mother again. If you keep doing this, one of you will kill the other one. Then, you’ll be in jail. One of you needs to leave.”

The next afternoon, I came home from school excited to share I had the lead in a musical. When I walked inside the house, my mother was scantily dressed in a torn, thin gown. Her hair was messy and her eyes were filled with hatred and rage.

She jumped towards me.

“I hope you’re happy now,” she shouted. “You stupid girl. Your daddy’s left and it’s all your fault. He’s divorcing me. You can consider him dead now!”

Three days later, we moved in with our grandparents in Bibb City, the mill village of Columbus, Georgia.

One of my great uncles took a liking to me, always telling me I was pretty and sweet. He invited me to ride with him on his dry cleaning deliveries. He said we’d have a ‘good time.’

Little did I know what his definition of ‘a good time’ really meant.

It was early springtime when I rode with him. He packed a variety of Tom’s snacks and Nehi orange soda for us to enjoy on this warm Saturday. Driving along, he talked about Papa and fishing and music. He knew I loved music. He played musical instruments so he invited me to sing with him at his house.

“You’ll love the music we play,” he said. “Good ole gospel music.”

“I like jazz,” I said, sipping my drink.

Carefully, I watched the directions of his driving. I’ve always been one to look for landmarks on the road. Little did I know how smart this little game of landmarks would become. We rode around to Smith’s Station, Alabama. According to roadmaps, Smith’s Station was exactly ten miles from Columbus, Georgia.

My uncle made a right turn on a dirt road. I glanced around, looking for homes, or maybe a farm. All I saw were dusty, red clay fields and another dirt road. He made another right onto another dirt road. I glanced behind me, noticing the dust from the roads created a thick, red fog.

“There aren’t any homes around here. Where are we going?”

My uncle smiled a devious smile. He reached his right arm over to me. “Come here,” He said. “You need to sit closer to me.”

I did not move. He thrust his arm my way, pulling me to him. My body tightened.

The interior of his truck was dusty. Freshly cleaned clothing hung on one side of the truck, covered with plastic and delivery orders attached. Still, I could see the red fog, now so thick I wasn’t certain anyone could see us.

“Where are we going?”

My uncle grinned. “Just relax. We’re going to pick blackberries.”

All I could see was a dirt road. The fields were freshly planted. I doubted blackberries were ready to pick. Something frightened me.

My uncle turned right again, pulling into a thick pile of brush and leaves. Tall pine trees grew in a line, so tall I felt I could reach the clouds if I climbed them. I wasn’t a tree climber. My uncle parked the truck, turning the motor off.

He laughed a horrifying, wicked laughter I did not like to hear. He pulled me closer to him.

“Stop it,” I said. I don’t want to get close to you.”

“Don’t you miss your daddy?” He asked. “Your mama said you cry for him. Come closer to me. I can be your daddy.”

“No,” I shouted, knowing no one would ever hear me. We were in the middle of a deserted field of red clay and pine trees.

“I want to get to know you better.”

“There are no blackberries around here. You lied to me.”

I remember crying. I was so horrified. Just what was my great uncle planning to do with me?

“I wanna go home,” I said, wiping my tears.

“And I want to know you better. You’re such a pretty girl. Your mama knows how pretty you are. She said I should be closer to you since your daddy left.”

His hands gripped my legs hard, moving up my thigh. He moved his right hand to my chest. I pushed away, but he was strong. Now, he was moving his entire body towards me, getting on top of me.

I screamed again, only I knew no one would hear. If I had any chance to get away from this monster great uncle, I had to fight for myself.

Since I was only 15-years-old and did not have any brothers, I had no idea how to fight, but I did all I could. My mother had never discussed sex with me, or what a girl could do to fight back. My arms were hard to move since he was on top of me. I heard the sound of a zipper, realizing my shorts were loser now. His hands rushed all over my body, moving into my genitals. I bit his arm. He pulled away for only a moment. My right arm was free now, so I moved my hands in the direction of his crotch. I had no idea what I should do, but I remember grabbing his crotch and I squeezed as hard as I could.

He screamed in pain. His body went limp. I pushed him away and I grabbed the door. Rushing outside, I ran as hard as I could. I knew the way home. I could walk. Smith Station and Columbus were only ten miles away. I was suddenly thankful I had strong legs and could walk the distance. The dirt road was almost an open field, so I could not find a place to hide. In the distance, I heard his truck. He was coming after me.

Raised in the Assembly of God Church, my grandmother had taught me to pray. Tears streaming down my face, I ran. When I saw his truck, I darted into a dry field with trees. Just maybe he could not drive his truck into the trees.

“Please, God. Help me. I don’t know what he wants to do with me, but I don’t like it. Please, God. HELP ME!”

My uncle saw me. He stopped the truck, opened the driver’s door and got out.

“You need to come back. We’ve got to pick blackberries.”

“You’re a liar,” I shouted. “I’m not getting back in the truck.”

He laughed. “Just how do you plan to get back home?”

“Walking,” I shouted as loud as I could scream. “I know the way.”

He rushed towards me. I noticed he was moving slower. Just maybe I had hurt him a little bit. Good. He deserves to hurt.

He moved closer to me, and when he did, I kicked him as hard as I could, right between his legs. He fell to the ground. I ran.

“Please God, guide me home. And please don’t let him catch me.”

A bit later, I heard the truck. My uncle gunned the engine, catching me. I looked behind me. The truck was getting so close I panicked, remembering when I was hit by a car at nine-years-old. I stepped to the side of the road. My uncle stopped the truck.

He was holding one of his hands by his crotch, and he moaned as if he was in pain.

“You get in this truck. I’ll take you home.”

“I’m walking,” I said.

My uncle jumped out of the car, picked me up and opened the passenger door. Kicking and screaming, I remember fighting as hard as I could to get free. He threw me in the seat.

“Don’t you move!” He said. “I’m taking you home.”

“I don’t want to be with you. I don’t like you anymore.”

“You just sit still. We’ll be back to your house before you know it.” He drove off, driving as fast as he could.

“If you tell one person I touched you, you’ll be sorry.” He said. “I’m a deacon in the church. No one will believe you.”

Tears were pouring down my face, and I tried to speak but my words were only garbled. Inhaling, exhaling, and slowly breathing, I calmed myself down, managing to speak.

“If you move one finger over here towards me, you’ll be sorry,” I said. “I know what to do now, and I’ll do it again if I have to. After today, don’t you even speak to me again. I hate you!”

Arriving home, I rushed to my bedroom. My mother asked why I was home so early. I ignored her.

I gathered some clothes and I rushed to the bathroom. I wanted to get the red dust off of myself. Scrubbing my body hard with Ivory soap, I cried and cried until there were no more tears left.

My great uncle came to the house a few days later. When I saw his truck, I rushed away.

Still, to this day, I can still hear his words, “I’m a deacon in the church. No one will believe you.”

Maybe now, someone will. I was victim at fifteen-years-old. Never did I report his sexual molestations of me. Why? Simple. Back in those days, who would believe a fifteen-year-old? They would say, You were asking for it. You wore shorts and T-shirt and you have a nice chest. You were just asking for it.

No, I wasn’t. In the dark of night while sleeping I still hear his words echoing to me.

“I’m a deacon in the church. No one will believe you.”

When he died, my mother phoned me, encouraging me to come to his funeral. I remember saying to her, “He can rot in Hell for all I care. He molested me.” That was the first time I shared his attack with anyone.

Regardless who or what a man is, there is no excuse for anyone to molest, rape or sexually assault any child or woman. Even if he is – a deacon in the church.

Now, people are under the impression a woman should always come forward; however, unless you are a victim, you cannot understand why it is so difficult and painful to “come forward.” It takes courage.

Victims are made to feel dirty, cheap, with a lack of self-esteem. I’ll not share how many years it was before I came forward and shared my story about my great uncle. When I did, I was told he had a history of ‘liking young girls.’

Looks like he got away with what he did, at least with me, after all – He was a deacon in the church.DSC_0032_edited

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I A “Racist???


Yesterday, I received a news alert about Melania Trump being a ‘racist’ from a librarian. Seems Melania Trump is a racist for donating Dr. Seuss’ books???

Duh? Am I missing something?

Dr. Seuss books are racist???
Let’s look up the definition for racist:
“a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.”

Aren’t we hearing “racist” just a bit too much these days?

NFL players say we are racist so they kneel to protest when the National Anthem is played at the beginning of their games. All they are illustrating is their lack of respect for the United States of America.

Every time I’ve seen those images, all I’ve seen are black football players. Oops. Suppose I’ll be called a racist now.

Understand – I AM NOT A RACIST! Years ago, when the South refused to accept people OF ALL COLORS, I broke the unpublished rule at the Armed Services YMCA.

What did I do?

I was a member of the Girls Auxiliary. The YMCA held dances for the soldiers to attend. Soldiers had to pay a cover charge to come inside to the dance.  On one occasion, I danced with a black soldier.

OOOOOHHH! All I did was dance with the soldier, and it wasn’t a “Dirty Dance.” We did not groove, or grind with our bodies. He held me gracefully and we talked. That is all!

A few minutes later, the President of the Armed Services YMCA tapped me on the shoulder, asking me to ‘meet him in his office.’

Several girls noticed, along with many of the soldiers.  I admit it. I was a popular girl at the YMCA.

Entering the President’s office, he asked me to sit down. He thanked me for joining the YMCA as a girl’s auxiliary member. Then, he said: “We have standards and rules here. You broke one of the rules tonight.”

Flabbergasted, I asked: “What did I do?”

He sighed, then he dropped a bomb. “You danced with a black guy. We don’t allow that here.”

“What?” I said. “I broke the rule and danced with a black soldier? Let me get this straight. Didn’t the black soldier have to pay a cover charge to come inside tonight? You allowed him to enter, but as a girl’s auxiliary member I cannot dance with him?”

“We don’t consider it a cover charge. He, along with all soldiers, has to pay a fee to come to the dance.”

“But,” I interrupted, shaking and a bit angry. “You do not permit black girls to join the auxiliary. I was told that a few weeks ago when I inquired. Yet…You allow a soldier, a gentleman who fights for freedom, to come inside to the dance. BUT… Because of his color, he cannot dance with me and I’m supposed to say No when he asks me to dance. Is that what you’re saying?”

“We don’t think of it like that. This is the South. We do things different here.”

“But he’s a soldier. He was respectful and kind to me, and we danced. I don’t understand.”

I jumped from my chair and left his office. By the time I got to the front door, I was in tears. Several soldiers could see I was upset and they knew me, so they followed me out the door.

“What’s going on?” One of the soldiers asked. I noticed the black soldier standing with the group.

“Nothing,” I cried. “I’m okay. I’m leaving.”

The black soldier approached me. “They told you not to dance with a black soldier. Right?”

“Not exactly and I don’t wish to lie. What he said is I danced with a ‘black guy.’ I don’t think he considers you a soldier, just because you’re black.”

A few minutes later, I left, crying all the way home. I could not understand why the color of skin mattered so much to so many people. All I saw was a nice guy with a crooked smile and a pleasant manner. He was a soldier. He wanted to dance. Nothing more.

Two days later, I got a phone call from the President of the Armed Services YMCA. He apologized and wanted me to come back to the dances.

I suppose my popularity with the soldiers made an impression. Little did I know that after I left the dance that night, six soldiers demanded to meet with the President. Apparently they let him know how displeased they were and they also mentioned he was wrong to degrade me for dancing with ‘a black guy.’

I returned to the YMCA a few times after that experience and I still danced with ‘black soldiers.’

What a disgrace? HARDLY!

Since those years, I’ve stood up many times and fought back when I hear people being ‘racist.’ Let’s don’t even discuss some of the words they use, but I stand tall and let them know — color is only skin deep. What lies beneath the skin is a beautiful person with love inside. Beauty and color is only skin deep!

Now, I admit it. I detest football. I’ve seen men get so angry over a football game that they become violent. Did you know domestic violence increases during football season, especially during the Super Bowl. While I might listen to the Super Bowl since my husband likes to watch it, I have a stack of reading material ready so I can read.

This morning while I checked Facebook ever so quickly, I saw a post related to the NFL. A toll-free phone number for Anheuser Busch was posted. 1-800-342-5283, so we could share our thoughts about the infamous NFL athletes. Personally, I think all of those athletes should lose their contracts so they will recognize every act has a repercussion! Just how would they feel after losing all of the money they earn while showing their testosterone levels! As you can see, I have no respect!

It is a disgrace that our soldiers can battle wars and earn very little money, and IF they need veterans benefits after their battles, they must fight tooth and nail just to get what they deserve. Meanwhile, some testosterone overloaded guy shows how great he is at chasing and fighting over an inflated, or deflated, football, earning him millions of dollars.

Oops. But — you might call me a racist now. Believe me. I’m not a racist. I simply believe in the freedoms we have earned simply because soldiers went to Gulf Shores, AL 2008 082war zones to fight for our freedoms. Some of those soldiers did not return alive. Others, are still over there fighting to forget the wars while battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My husband is only one of them!

But – that’s another subject for another time. I am not a racist. I am an American, and I am proud to share the freedoms while standing to honor our United States flag and the National Anthem. I respect our soldiers, regardless of the color of their skin, or their gender. And whenever I see a soldier, I thank him, or her, for their service! Sometimes, I even give them a hug to welcome them home!

Here’s to the United States of America!

Why not call Anheuser Busch 1-800-342-5283 today!

 

Happy Anniversary to My Husband


Dearest Readers:

Good morning, Everyone. I hope your day is splendid. I am posting something today, not to get personal wishes. Today, I am posting just to wish my husband, Phil Cooper, Happy Anniversary. We started our marriage off with many road blocks and detours. Three months after our marriage, I watched him board a plane from Charleston to Fort Dix and then to Viet Nam. Over the years, we’ve had other storms and battles, but we have always walked tall and survived. Today, is our anniversary. I will not share how many years. Just know, I was a teenage bride. Everyone in my family said our marriage would not last. They said I must be pregnant.  His family said I married him for his money? Were both families wrong! If I was pregnant at the time of our marriage, I do believe it was the longest pregnancy in history — three years, to be exact.

Isn’t it strange how cruel and vindictive some families can be! Instead of wishing us well, they criticized. Instead of taking the time to really get to know me as a wife, his mother said I ‘stole her son.’ Stole her son??? Excuse me. IF anyone stole her son, it was the United States Army!

As you know, I am a singer. My dream in life was to become a professional singer, but I lacked the confidence that I could REALLY sing, until we started going to karaoke. Repeatedly, I have people tell me I have an amazing voice and stage presence. Many times, I blink my eyes, almost in disbelief. If only I had that confidence and encouragement in my younger years.

There is a song I sing occasionally, especially when my lady friends request it. This song holds a piece of my heart. What is the song title, you say? ‘YOU DON’T OWN ME!’

“You don’t own me. Don’t try to change me in any way. You don’t own me. Don’t tie my down cause I’ll never stay…”

So symbolic to me! Why? I got married at a time where many women automatically took the name of their husband, and so I became: Mrs. Phillip R. Cooper. ?? I remember asking myself why I must address myself as Mrs. PRC. Didn’t I STILL have a name? Whatever happened to me and my maiden name? I did not like to address myself as “Mrs. Cooper.” I wanted to have my name. My independence. Just because I got married does not mean I stopped existing! All of the letters Phil wrote to me in Viet Nam were addressed to Mrs. Phillip R. Cooper. Gee. I thought I STILL had a name!

So much for my existence! Now, I address myself as Barbie Perkins-Cooper. It tickles me when others address Phil as “Mr. Perkins-Cooper!”

Maybe now he can understand how I feel! I like having my independence. Just because I married does not mean I must toss away who I am!

Today, I wish Phil and I a great anniversary. Over the years, we’ve had our share of issues. I admit, I am a most independent woman and I do not like being told what to do. What woman does? I admit, when we were newlyweds, I allowed him to dictate what to do, how to do it…How to dress…How to wear my hair…etc. ETC! In the 1980’s I finally stood up and spoke and when I did — I truly became the woman I’ve wanted to be. So

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Cypress Gardens

today, I will reminisce about our relationship, thankful we have worked so hard to keep our marriage intact. Tonight, we will celebrate at karaoke. I always say to others, “Marriage is truly a work-in-progress!’ And so, I will continue working. Happy Anniversary to Phil. I’ll not say how many years, but I will say — “We’ve been married forever!”

Your question to me on this night when I sing could be — “Will you sing “You Don’t Own Me.”

Maybe I will. And if I do, I probably have my stage performance ready! Just wait and see.

“You don’t own me….Don’t try to change me in any way. You don’t own me…Don’t tie me down cause I’ll never stay…”

Happy Anniversary, Phil. Thank you for all you’ve done over the years to show me I am worthy and deserving of love, and thank you for sticking it out with me, especially when I fought to rediscover my independence.