the purple warrior

purple warrior-jay herron 2007

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

I would like to tell you about the purple warrior. I hope the description comes out better than the photo
graph did-unfortunantly there are details that just dont show in this photo…but we’ll just make the best of it with what we have.

The painting is the story of a son who is grieving for his father. I suppose you can say it is a self portrait of sorts-the story in many ways is my story.
It is the story of the warrior who went off as a young man and desired to do things to please his father,to earn his approval-respect,and love.
Sadly you cannot see this at all in the photo-but in warriors chest,in his heart are boxes…one right after the other,and in the boxes are all the things the warrior…the son had done through out his life. All of the things the son had wanted his father to know about were stored in these boxes waiting for the time they could be shared.
In the painting the father has already died and as the purple warrior stands at the head of the coffin the spirit of himself as a little boy comes and puts his arm around the warriors leg and reaches up to touch his father,but his hand can only come so close and cannot reach.
The band that comes around the warriors arm is a pipe-like a bagpipe on which the purple warrior plays a mournful tune for his father.
The day I came near to realizing what this painting was about-as it grew through my brushes and colors and realized it was about me and my dad and my own heart became really heavy and I had to walk away from it and began weeping really heavy. I went the house to sit and try to relax and put it out of my mind. My father has not passed away-but he is sick…and will die,and in my chest-in my heart are boxes full of the many things I have done in my life that my father has never known about.
It is not just things in those boxes that the warrior has done…there are the answers and reasons and history of a son that is gone completely by unnoticed by the very one the warrior wanted the most notice from.
It was a really strange day when working the painting made me weep. I went as I said to the house and in my mind was a question not related to this story but it was in my head for a few days and it was something in the bible so after I calmed down a bit I went to look it up.
Somehow by accident…spiritual accident-I found something else. It was a story about two brothers meeting beneath a tree. A ‘terebinth’ tree. I never heard of them so I went to look it up and chills still go down my back when I think about the way the definition came to be known in the same hours my heart began feeling the pain about the meaning of my painting.
The terebinth is the meeting place between life and death.

I’ve tried to get back in-I’ve tried to get my fathers attention. Some years ago I worked in a hug with awkward response in return. Last week I offered to fly with them (my mother too) to Pennsylvania and rent a car and drive them when ever they need and where ever they wanted to ease the burdon on them-its a trip my father wants to make to the family cemetery plot up there.
My father said no-they had everything under control. My heart full of boxes felt like a giant booted foot had come down and crushed the boxes as if the contents were fragile glass balls one hangs on a tree.
It feels that way often.
I have learned to deal with pain like that from all the times that pain has become a calous on my heart-from all the times that pain has been inticed by hope and let down each time I try to live up to what he might want me to live up to,but he never looked up since my failure in the Navy.
You see-it is an interesting thing about those few months in 1970….about the rape and sexual assaults! About the magnitude as to what they are to me personally…what all that has been stolen from me by that experience and what all else I had to hide in those boxes in my heart to be forever kept and never known and what all my father never knew about the truth.
After the Navy-after the day I got discharged and walked away from the base and barracks D none of that stayed behind. It followed me. I began to walk down the highway and right there with me was barracks D.
In a few more weeks it will be fathers day. I mark that day as my anniversery-my first day in Florida. It will be 37 years this year-I go each year to the Jewish Cemetery in Gainesville…its where I spent my first day-homeless!
I had come from DC from a going away party-I had to get away-the fellow who the party was for was coming to Florida and so I caught a ride. My weakness allowed me to be strong armed to help another guy steal from where we were working and we had gotten caught and I think we were going to go to jail. It isnt hard to strong arm me-even today I believe Id fall to the pressure…but I’ll tell you,I will never get myself into a situation where I go to jail.
It still seems like just the other day.
You have had people say “get over it…that was a long time ago,get on with your life”!! I’ve had people say that to me so many times and not understand that it never goes away…it is there every morning of every day (and through out the day) it has times when it comes back so strong it is unbearable-the memory of those days in barracks D will never go away.
Thats what this is all about-wanting to open up all those boxes….and tell any body who is interested about these things,and though it I have come to learn I’m not the only one-there are others who have boxes of their own.
I know I might have said this before. Rape is such a horrid crime-it devastates the victim over and over through their lives. Its not like theft-when you are robbed you can to a WalMart and fairly well replace everything and fix the broken glass. It is almost like a murder except there is no tombstone to go to to see that it has been buried.
So much was taken from my life that short few months-so much has been taken from our lives,those of us who have survived.

One Response to “the purple warrior”

  1. woundedwoman Says:

    I added your blog to my blogroll and I am deeply moved to tears by your posts.

    As a female survivor of repeated rape, sexual assault, and emotional/psychological abuse over a number of years, I feel your pain and the horror of what happened to you. I too, was abused during a time when there was no help available for children, women or men who were victims and survivors of abuse. The times when we felt it was hopeless, permanently changed us. When no one was there to care, it permanently changed us.

    There’s a difference between existing and living. Sometimes it’s all we can to just exist and survive.

    You describe rape as “almost like a murder except there is no tombstone to go to to see that it has been buried. So much was taken from my life that short few months-so much has been taken from our lives, those of us who have survived.”

    Yes, it is like murder as it does kill many essential components of human life….i.e. trust, morale, potential, dignity, self-worth, relationships, faith, and hope. It kills faith in trust, love, honor, and humanity. It kills what and who we could have been if we had not been derailed by abuse.

    Yet we revive some of things that were killed, like hope and faith in humanity, which are intertwined. For without hope we cannot survive.
    I cannot make the pain go away, all I can do is let you know I understand and I am with you on the journey.

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