Memories emerge in the darkness of night, becoming one with my soul like the rivers that flow into the sea. These hours before dawn are like a cold rain pounding into my heart. The grief is fierce as it raises and then returns to consume my spirit. My senses are attacking my very soul. The depths of my courage wounded; I am listing in a sea of sorrow. My life is filled with more grief than many can bear. In search of a miracle, hope merges with despair. Is it my destiny to lose all that I have ever loved? It is a hard cold hour to depart from this misery.
The hours before dawn, and a cold rain pounds into my heart. The grief is fierce as it raises and consumes my spirit, assaulting my senses. Memories emerge from the darkness, becoming one with my soul. In the depths of my wounded courage, I am listing in a sea of sorrow, my life filled with more grief than many can bear. It is the hard cold hour before departing this misery. I search for a miracle. Hope merges with despair. It is my destiny to leave all I have ever loved.
I am uncertain and afraid. Hope has expired. Sometimes waves of anger and fear hang above me, a cloud circulating over the earth. I do not speak of death. Yet, the elderly where I reside; talk until they see their own grave over the horizon.
Much is written about grief, soft words meant to calm the grieving heart. There will be those that say how lovely these words are, and I doubt if they are all true. Grief is not calm and comforting; the comments do not stop the pain. Words penetrate the brain; shatter the heart.
Most are choked with emotions under the flesh where the heart is sheltered by outward affliction; they close their eyes, hoping to have the scene before they disappear. Grief has no place to hide! The speaker believes the words that enter the ears will comfort despair. It will not.
I have just finished my son’s book “Somewhere Between the Trees and Clouds.” I read the draft; however, when you finish the actual book as I have, you will find yourself considering many aspects of the parents, students, teachers, and school administration and the impact each has on the other throughout the student’s school years. If you are fortunate enough to have a child, always keep in the forefront that it all starts with the parents. I had five children in school simultaneously, from Kindergarten to Twelfth grade. I now have great-grandchildren, and my thoughts are still very often on how today’s children are affected from the moment they wake until they go to bed at night. Teachers want students to come to class ready to learn, be prepared, focused, and motivated each day.
They want students to enjoy and be participants in the learning process. All this starts with minimum parents’ participation. To answer the question you are asking me, I have the answer. No, I did not have the model student, nor was I ever given the mother of the year award. My children were normal in every way. That included my seeing that each had a decent breakfast or bag lunch in the cafeteria, clean clothes for all seasons, and I tried to make their morning as calm as possible. I knew that if they left with anxiety, depression, or fights with both children and parents, they could not possibly have a good day at school. Teachers want students to be respectful and respect authority and each other. They want them to respect themselves. A respectful and trusting environment allows teachers to maximize learning opportunities. If they go to school with unclean clothes, little or no breakfast, leaving the home atmosphere calm, without fights with parents or each other.
Teachers need parents to support them. They want parents to take them at their word and not question their motives. They want parents to support and reinforce classroom management strategies they have in place. Teachers want parents to be involved with their child’s education. They want parents to take an active role in their children’s education. They want parents who will ensure that all homework gets done and that the child is getting plenty of rest so that they will be alert in class each day. Teachers want parents to value education. They want parents to stress the importance of education from an early age.
Teachers want administrators to have their back in difficult situations. This includes student discipline, disagreements with parents, or confrontation with another faculty member. Teachers want to feel like their administrator(s) will listen to their side and back them if the evidence supports them. Teachers want administrators to provide them with adequate resources. Teachers understand that money can be tight for schools, but there are specific resources that they must have. If a teacher finds a help that they believe will benefit all students, then they expect the administration to find a way to fund it. Teachers want administrators to communicate clear expectations. They want to understand school policy and procedures that affect them. Teachers want administrators to clarify and explain the district’s expectations with issues such as classroom management, student learning, and communication.
Teachers want other teachers to be professional. They do not expect other teachers to talk about them with their students, a parent, or other faculty members. They expect other teachers to value their opinion. They expect other teachers to adhere to the policies of the district. Teachers want other teachers to collaborate. They value other teachers’ opinions. They want them to share best practices and offer advice. They want a strong working relationship with other teachers in which they feel comfortable to share frustrations and success stories.
Teachers want community members to get involved. They want them to volunteer to help in classrooms, read a book to students, or help with a fundraiser. They want them to donate money to projects that they are doing. They want them to offer their services in any capacity that they would be able to help. Now, you are saying so many parents cannot contribute money, but their time is valuable, ask a teacher what you can do to relieve the teacher’s stress.
Your next question will no doubt be; there are bad educators, bad administrators, those that do their job nine – to – five. There are bad apples everywhere and in all professions. We must be avid in being open, reporting fear we may have as a parent, remember everyone has a “boss” that they must answer to. Keep going until you get an answer to your problem. Remember, your child was not born racist; most are not born with no ability to learn; all these things must begin at home. Give your child a good foundation before sending them off to school. We are losing good teachers to non-education positions because of stress and anxiety throughout the system. We need to fight to keep good teachers and weed out the bad. Also, the school system needs a managed format involving teachers, parents, and students. I know you are saying there is one in place; if it is not working, take the time to change it.
What I am suggesting to parents, students, teachers, and administration are not quick fixes. The trouble now is that problems have been slapped with a bandage for years, and soon the problem will go away as the children go away (Graduate or move up in classes). This is not the solution to the problem, and the problems grow bigger each day.
Thank you for reading this post, and comments are welcomed. EAJM 5.3.2022
“Somewhere Between the Trees and Clouds” at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com
Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree also located for purchase at: Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com
The poem below was created by my thoughts about my grandmother, whom I never knew. The influenza pandemic of 1918–1919 was the most severe influenza outbreak of the 20th century. A virus called influenza type A subtype H1N1 is now known to have been the cause of the extreme mortality of the influenza pandemic of 1918–1919. The disease that caused this devastating pandemic has also been called the Spanish flu.
The influenza pandemic of 1918–19 resulted from such an occurrence and affected populations throughout the world. An influenza virus called influenza type A subtype H1N1 is now known to have been the cause of the extreme mortality of this pandemic, which resulted in an estimated 25 million deaths. However, some researchers have projected that it caused 40–50 million deaths. Many were not reported; they got sick and died without it being reported. During this pandemic, an estimated 25 million persons worldwide died of the so-called Spanish flu, which was first widely reported in Spain but originated in the U.S. state of Kansas.
My grandmother got sick and was dead three days later, on January 11, 1919. It would be 1954 before my daddy would place a tombstone at her grave; I was 15 years old. All those years later my daddy let me pick out the writing on the stone. “Mother is not dead; she is only sleeping.”
Two days after her death, she was buried. My daddy always believed that she was in a coma. He would say that they opened the casket for him to say goodbye to her, and her hand felt warm. He ran from the cemetery and did not stop until he reached the woods surrounding Tarrant City, Alabama. He spent several days roaming in the woods to find a reason for her leaving; she was only 34 years old.
The tombstone states Emma Hall Evans, but she was never married to but one man, Thomas Johnson, my daddy’s father. His grandmother Jane Hall had asked him not to be placed on her tombstone. My daddy said she was never married to any man. She lived with Thomas Johnson until he found a younger woman. Her maiden name was Overton; she had two children by two separate men that no one ever knew. She called them both Evan’s. He was a womanizer. She was never supposed to go anywhere unescorted after moving back into her mother’s house when Thomas left her. It was always thought that my daddy’s siblings were his half-sister by a white man and his half-brother by a Hispanic man. Yes, she led a colorful life, slipping out of the house at night going to the nightspots in Birmingham, then she slipped back in before daylight. Daddy’s grandmother had him sleep in his mother’s room, thinking she would not leave or that he would tell on her. He loved his mother with all of his being. He never told of her roaming around in Birmingham, Alabama, after her mother went to bed. He would be punished when it was noticeable that she was pregnant. He remained faithful to her until her death.
Few have known this kind of love between a mother and her children. I have been so very fortunate that the love between my children and me has followed in my grandmother’s and daddy’s footsteps. I was married to their father, he is now gone, but the love and trust between my children and myself have not waivered very much throughout these years.
Today is Wednesday; I try to do things that help distract me from the pain in my body since I woke. It is, of course, a daily thing, yet I must push it aside. Taking care of my fur baby Dixie is my first concern, then all the medications, dressing, and starting a new day. My day is filled with painting, checking out what is on the internet, email, Twitter, creating poetry, and things of interest to me. Sometimes, I sit quietly, hoping for the pain to go away. I talk to or text my wonderful children and grandchildren, which holds me up when I can no longer stand alone. Their love takes away the pain. I thank God daily for giving me these wonderful angels. I continue to write my autobiography; recalling all that I need to put in it takes me to another level. It takes away the presence and carries me to the past, reliving the years that have gone by so quickly.
It seems as if Cancer controls my life. I let it think so; I own my life. Its presence makes me stronger, braver, and wiser. It is I who chooses how to live. The word “Cancer” does not live in my soul. I have not been afraid of it from the moment given the diagnosis. My soul belongs to God and me. It can never touch the divine spirit that cries out, “I am not my body.” My soul will not allow it to pull me down into the depths of despair. Those close to me will surround me, and they will fight with me to let Cancer know that I, We, will not surrender to it. Cancer does not own me, I own myself, and it will not kill me without a fight.
My son, Chuck Murphree has a new book coming out April 2, 2022, published by ten16pess, somewhere between the trees and clouds is a must read.
Somewhere Between the Trees and Cloudswritten by Chuck Murphree PaperbackYA Fiction - Mental Health - Sexual Abuse - Novels in Verse404 pages
ABOUT THE BOOKI’m damaged goods,Torn apartIn my mind. This is how Dylan describes himself, how teenage boys feel when they are sexually assaulted. Damaged. Yes, it happens to boys too. It isn’t until Dylan meets Audrey that he feels like he's something other than torn and damaged. She too has her darkness. Her assault is recent, from a party where she was taken advantage of, and she is forced to move schools only to face rumors that make her feel like she did something wrong. Together, they help one another navigate their pain and possibly find some healing and grace. Somewhere Between The Trees And Clouds is a story about loss, internal wounds, healing, love, and hope.
ABOUT THE AUTHORSomewhere Between the Trees and Clouds is Chuck Murphree’s second novel. He lives in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, with his wife and spoiled dog. When Chuck isn’t writing, he can be found teaching adolescents, talking to others about mental health, reading, biking, doing yoga, or taking a mindful hike deep in the woods or straight up a mountain.
Somewhere Between the Trees and Clouds [paperback]