Thursday, January 16, 2014

Georgia On My Mind

In the past when people would ask me where I am from, I would temporarily go blank. A fragmented, unhappy childhood had left me like a blank slate. Like an orphan tossed on the seas of life, it seems that I had always yearrned for a place I could call Home. My official Home Town never felt like home, so, where did I come from? Where did I belong? I longed, deeply, to find a place to call my own.

Descendants of German immigrants, my adopted parents where born and raised on farms in western Pennsylvania during The Great Depression. They
married and moved to a small town in Central Florida as a young couple in the early 1950's.  Apparently, Mom could not bare children but I've never learned why. After six years of being on the adoption list, they found an underaged young lady "in trouble" and adopted yours truly. When I was a wee tot, on the rare occasions we traveled to their native Pennsylvania, they would take the time to visit old friends or family still living on farms. I fell in love with the countryside right then and there. I felt a kinship with the trees, the wildlife, the smells, the gentle sounds, the clean air and most of all, the solitude. Even the small town was already beginning to be too much for me. I wanted to enjoy the night stars without the light pollution. I yearned to hear the crickets singing and chase fireflies from a back porch.

Psalms 27:10 "When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take me up."

What I share next is not to illicit sympathy but to lay the ground work for this story explaining the reason for my feeling so disconnected. Very rarely do I dwell on this small part of my life. These are only shadows and ghosts of the past. I've given it to God and He has lovingly hidden the hurt away.

I think I was fairly happy as a small child before my mother died in 1966, I don't remember. All I do remember is losing the only mother I'd ever known
that sweltering August day. After the funeral Dad made it abundantly clear he didn’t want me around anymore. It turned my already fragile world upside down. My earliest memory is her funeral with Dad telling me to “Shut up, what do you care?! You’re only adopted anyway.” Yeah, he said that to a grieving 10 year old child. I felt like someone had reached into my chest and stopped my heart from beating. Dad was keen on yelling curse words, snapping belittling remarks (his favorite were I was a bastard, and how stupid I was), open hand slap any body part too close to him, or glare at me for seemingly no reason. I started running away. My grades where failing. I became a bit of a day dreamer. The school psychiatrist was as much help as breasts on a boar hog. Two step-mothers later, things where a little improved. At least the last one was a Christian and wasn't abusive. We had our differences, but still she had a good heart. When I was 14 I gave my heart to Christ in a little non-denominational church. Kneeling at the cross (emotionally) I knew I was a sinner, unworthy of His forgiveness but told Him I believed in Him and to do with me as He will. At least I knew He would never leave me! He gave me the strength to go on. His guidance gave me the fortitude to buckle down, get a good education and get the heck out of Dodge as soon as it was legal. When I turned 18 it was made clear I was no longer welcome in that house. No home there! Frightened and with no confidence in my abilities, I married the first man that asked and in the infamous words of Jimmy Buffett “it cost me much more than a ring“. My first husband wasn’t a bad guy but we where definitely mismatched. He wasn't my 'home' either. Thankfully, we parted on amicable terms without too much damage done.

After all that, my current hubby and I met, then tied the knot. Thankfully, he shared my vision of living in the country. It was going to be a difficult task
since we where living in the Big City, in a State where property was expensive and we are not people of means. Thankfully, by now it was the '80s and times where good. With good jobs and lots of prospects for improvement we worked hard for 18 years. It was exciting to dream and plan. However, even though there can be lots of money to be made in a metropolis, a city setting is emotionally crushing to me. I felt stifled, fought a lot of airborn illnesses, and the stress of living so close to others kept my nerves on edge. I fought the crushing sadness that seemed to follow me like a black cloud. 

In 1981, I was working for a gentleman who was also adopted. He urged me to begin searching for my birth parents. Through his assistance, I managed to learn who my birth-mother was. After many phones calls, letters and false starts I had located her within a few weeks. (Again, God's mercy!) Regrettably, though, I was about 18 months too late to speak to my birth-mother as she had died in a traffic accident not far from where I was then living. But I did manage to make contact with a half sister, two half brothers, several aunts, an uncle and my grandfather. It was a rich and rewarding experience. Trust me, like all things great and small in our lives, this ties in. 

For years we continued the search for land. We wanted that perfect location
where it would be our forever home. On weekends when we weren’t repairing our 1952 Florida home, or out in the woods, we where looking at land. Dreaming about land. Praying for land! I think I exhausted every place in Florida I could think of. Then, I got the notion to start looking in southeast Georgia. One Saturday, after a, what I thought, wasted trip to Reidsville, Georgia, to look at more land for sale, we passed a sign on Highway 121 for a local realtor in Blackshear. It was late so I wrote the number down (this was pre-cell phones, after all) and after driving home, made an appointment for the next weekend to look at property. Short story long [smile], the nice young lady took us city folks all around this postage stamp sized county. It seemed every place I looked at it was “still too close to town”. I guess she couldn't believe that we would want to live so far out. Several available properties later, she finally believed me, and took us out to this place. 

Leviticus 25:23 "The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me."

It’s no kidding, as soon as I stepped out of her car, and my foot hit the property, with the towering oaks and pines, the inviting quiet, the simple country road, I knew this was it! My heart sang with joy! Hubby and I prayed for success. God mercifully opened the doors for the loan to go through without a hitch. Then we started down the long, curvy road of making this our permanent residence. It would take almost 8 more years of scrimping and saving but we where finally on the way Home


Jason and Michelle said...

Your childhood story breaks my heart. Im glad you found a place to call home.

linda eller said...

Thank you for sharing your life with us. The past wasnt good, but you overcame and are the strong, intelligent woman you are today because of it all. I admire and respect you very much. So happy you found your 'land' in the country where you can see the stars without buildings clouding the way; you can smell the grass, flowers, rain and all the other good things God gave us. Again, thank heart goes out to you.

White Lace and Promises said...

What an honest, heart-felt post! I love your realness! I also know the power and healing of an awesome God. Some things are often so raw and painful and it's a journey of many years. Prayers, my friend. From my experience, things seem to surface at unexpected time and forgotten places. I know. Thanks again for sharing.


Jackie said...

I'm so glad to call you my neighbor...even though we are a few miles apart, we are not only sisters in Christ...but we both live in South Jawja.
What a heartbreaking childhood you endured, sweet friend. I cannot for the LIFE of me imagine for an instant telling a child that he or she is not wanted... Heartbreaking. And I'm so glad that you found the comfort in the One Who could comfort you the most. Our Lord is and always will be there for you.
Your story touched me so deeply. I hug you an extra hug tonight. Feel it? I know that you do. We are kin...Sisters of the Christ we stand! Love you, my sweet friend.
We're about to cool off again....just in time to warm up again. How do you like our roller coaster winter! :))))
Love and hugs,

Deb said...

You have an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing. I am also an adoptee so I can really relate to much of what you wrote. My adopted parents were good to me, but I didn't feel complete until I found my birthday family in 1987. I mentioned my birth mom and our current relationship in the blog post I just finished and posted. I love your blog and enjoy visiting. Have a good weekend.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate you sharing your story. My heart breaks for your childhood but I know that you share your story to help others with similar situations. God is so good to have led you to your husband, land and HOME! I know when you are out enjoying the peace and beauty that your heart overflows with thankfulness. You are a precious friend and I love and admire you.

Sparky said...

@Dear Readers ~ Thanks everyone for the kind words, thoughts and prayers! Yes, I felt the hugs from here. :) This journey we call life is what all of us must make, each one in their own way "with fear and trembling". I do feel appreciative of God's mercy, His saving grace and know His gentle hands are with me in all that I do. I pray that no matter what course I chose it will always honor Him. And I am DEEPLY, beyond all words, humbled that all you fine people have taken the time to read about my journey and leave such heartfelt comments. I am truly blessed. ((Hugs)) ~:)

Simply Linda said...

{Sparky}--you and Steve are 2 of the most loveliest(sp? get what I am saying) people there are.

Liam has Steve's prize books sitting on his shelf. Those were the first items he tore through boxes looking for when we moved up here. He said, "Honey (you know the story on that-"Honey")-you must pack them & remember where you put them! They are the most important things in the whole wide world!"--silly you dearly. Steve & you are the best!! Love you.