_Picture it & Write, Ermilila


http://ermiliablog.wordpress.compictureitandwrite2copy-1black man

I studied this photo quite a few minutes. This is a mistake that I don’t like to make. I have never done this. I usually write my first thoughts in any story.

But for this photo prompt I saw many things. I wondered what other bloggers were seeing and then I thought, stay true to yourself Terry. Write what you see and feel, not what others may be doing.

So here goes.

I am proud of my name. My name is Samson Jr. . I was entertained when I was young by listening  to stories told by my parents and grandparents of how slaves in our families  had fought, lost and loved. I am proud of how far our present family has come.

I  live in a house with my parents who bought it with money they had worked hard and saved for. When my parents got married, they had nothing but love and the clothes on their backs. God was the center of their lives and they never let faith drift too far a way from their front door.

We have  running water and Papa bought Mama a used set of appliances; a washer and dryer. Mama didn’t have to wonder if it was going to rain or not. She could just put the wet clothes straight in the dryer and walk a way until the buzzer went off.

I go  to a public school system. There are mixed colors in all classes, but black children are less seen. Bullying and hate run  rampant after school  and many times the police can be  seen at the school yard breaking up fights. One time I can remember a black kid, about nine or ten was shot on his way to school.

It was just awful when I was just starting school. I can remember being picked on by the other students and the teacher doing nothing about it. White kids called me names and tore my home-work up in shreds. I would explain to the teacher why I didn’t have it but she still checked my paper with a big red F.

It took talking to my parents and many sessions with the nice counselor after school before I realized that I could do something about it. I learned that I didn’t have to let bullies pick on me. Mama always reminded me that I was special. She told me it didn’t matter what color my skin was; God made us all the same on the inside.

Slowly I gained confidence and I found ways around the kids in my class. I would write out two essays. I had an extra copy in case the kids got a hold of my homework. I learned to sit in the center, front seat. I sat right in front of the teacher’s eyes. She couldn’t deny when something bad was going on. She had no choice but to fix the problems.

I think she hated me. My one teacher just didn’t like me at all. I believe she considered me a trouble maker by making a spectacle out of myself sitting up front. After class one day she pulled on my shirt sleeve. She asked me,” What is it that you are trying to prove Mr. Samson Jr? Are you looking for attention? Don’t you get enough in your own home? Why don’t you sit in the back row with the rest of your friends?”

I can remember looking her square in the eye and saying, “I sit in the front row so I don’t miss anything you are saying Mam. I plan to graduate this school and go to college some day.”

I can still hear her cackling and seeing her tossing her arms up in the air. All she could get out of her painted red lips were, “Really now, so you think you are smart enough to go to college? Well I guess Mr. Samson Jr. time will tell us the truth on this. Go on, get for home.”

Thank goodness life is better today. I did finish that teacher’s class and I did graduate from that school. I worked hard like my parents taught me. I worked my fingers to the bone. Mama and Papa didn’t ask for a single cent. They let me save every single penny I earned down at the grocery store.

I went to a local college and I paid for most of it all by myself. My last year of college I was just beginning that first day and my Sunday School class gave me a gift. It was a gift of money. I can still remember feeling the hugs from each one of my class mates. I thanked them and I am sure I had some tears in my eyes. The entire church had a Sunday noon picnic in my honor too. I got some white envelopes from other folks too.

When we got home I had Mama help me count all those envelopes up and with the money from my Sunday School class and all the other folks, I was so surprised when half of my last year was already going to be paid for, and in advance. I was so proud as I walked into that school office and handed them over the money.

They wrote me  out a receipt, but all they really said was, thank-you. I went a head and finished school. I graduated being a teacher. In fact, I teach other kids in the very school I had attended myself.

Not long after I started teaching Papa died. It really wasn’t that long afterwards that Mama died of a broken heart. These were the hardest days of my life. Burying my parents whom I loved so much. I ended up selling the house and kept with me their personal belongings, and I moved into a nice apartment on the top floor.

It had so much room, I could just run and do flips if I wanted to. The ceilings were high so I could sing and hear my own voice echo off the walls. It had hardwood floors and the living room had two windows that I could open up and let the fresh air in.

The kitchen wasn’t really much to talk about but who cares. It had the important things. An old stove, but it did work, an icebox, and a small red table with two steel chairs. The living room came with a sofa and there was one over-stuffed chair. It had seen better days and had a couple of tears in it. I didn’t care. I took my parents bed blanket and threw it over it. Every time I sat in it, I would think of Mama and Papa.

I had to share a bathroom with two other apartments on my floor. I was the only black man living up here. They weren’t very friendly, but they didn’t bully me either. We just sort of stayed our distance when we would see one another. Sometimes our eyes would meet but quickly part.

I was a happy man. Each morning as I was frying up my bacon I would give thanks to God for one more day. One more chance to teach, one more chance to learn more about life. I lived in this apartment for about four months.

I didn’t get to stay there as long as I had planned on it. I had been teaching that day. It was a day of trials. Kids didn’t turn in homework. They talked too much instead of listening to my voice. I teach fifth grade students, and we all know how restless kids can be at that age.

School was over for the day and I gathered up my books and headed home to fix supper. When I got to my corner of where I lived, I saw my building was on fire. The fire was coming from up high. I just knew in my heart that the smoke was damaging all my belongings as well as I am standing here breathing.

I froze in my steps and I felt tears sliding down my face. I took my red handkerchief out of my back pocket and wiped my eyes. I glanced around at what else was happening. There were blacks and whites fighting in the streets. Some had broken bottles and were trying to  hurt others. Where were the police? When had this started? I wept as I was thankful for how far my family had come in life, but I bled tears for the distance we still had to go to learn to accept that we may be of different colors, but on the inside God made us all the same.

 

26 thoughts on “_Picture it & Write, Ermilila

  1. That was awesome and I loved the way the teacher let life go on without it making him bitter. He loved God as his parents did and that is what kept his confidence in himself. I love people who don’t let anything alter their dreams.

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  2. You should always go with what the picture says to you! I’m glad you did because this is possibly my favourite piece of yours, Terry. Beautiful and poignant. It is so sad that people continue to see race and discriminate on those characteristics rather than look at the personality of each individual. A lovely story. Thanks for contributing this week to Picture it & write!

    – Ermisenda

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    • you are very welcome Ermilia. I am so happy that you enjoyed my part in your prompt. It is a shame that society is so closed-minded. There is good in all of us, no matter where we come from or the color of our skin

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  3. You saw all of that in this image? Great job! I like how you found so much goodness and spirituality in your character. Teaching is a very honourable profession. Samson. Nice biblical name that.

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    • I see strange things when I look at photos don’t I? LOL, I usually write what pops up in my head first. I almost didn’t here, but then thought more and went back to the way I usually write. I am glad you saw the good in it. We are a judging world, but we never look in the mirror first before speaking. I like the name Samson also. Teachers work hard and get paid little for it. I think you really have to have the drive inside to teach considering today’s students

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      • Not strange just different. 🙂 It was an interesting read. My brother’s inlaws are all teachers. They go back several generations. My sister-in-law has her masters degree and is making a pretty descent living these days. She specializes in special needs kids though, and finds it endlessly rewarding.

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      • wow you are in a family of teachers. I guess you will be learning something each day considering you will be listening to their stories. I have always been around special need people, starting with my brother

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    • yes it is, we all are unique and we draw from our own experiences. one photo can be seen in many different forms. I am the same way as you. When I was in college, I would cram for tests then freeze when I was sitting with pencil and test. I usually went with my first instinct. I found if I over studied the question, I missed and when I looked back I would have been right if I would have just followed my gut

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  4. Everyone is different. For me its a mistake not to study it. Then again, I may just be slow or not see very well.
    However, when taking tests, I say always go with your first answer and don’t overthink things. Anytime I don’t follow that advice, I’m wrong.

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    • I have always written with what comes first to mind. I find I am pleased more with that post then if I would have torn my thoughts a part, but you are right, we are all different and have our own ways. You are not slow, my goodness, you are unique and my friend

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  5. Amazing story and amazing inspirational man Samson was. Sticking to his goals and not letting any bullying stop him. Faith in God and his good upbringing form his beloved mom and dad were strengthening him! Great story!

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    • I didn’t know where I was going with this prompt, but I have to admit I loved how it ended. Glad you enjoyed it too. The inner strength of a man shines through

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  6. Pingback: Picture it & Write, Ermilila | MKG- Memories-Keepsakes-Gifts

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