Archive for February, 2010

“here comes your sister”-or…40 years today

February 22, 2010

jo eileens hearse
Originally uploaded by jayfherron


I was told in a recent email that I need to quit living and dwelling on the past!
Something about giving it up to Jesus and all would be gone away!

I was a wee tyke when Aunt Peg said the words to me…”here comes your sister”. We we’re sitting on the stoop at my grandparents house in Pottstown (PA) waiting for JoEileen.

The thing that imprinted me the most was the hearse that carried her casket-it was a Coupe Le flora (and I may have the spelling incorrect). A hearse designed to carry the casket in the open air-draped with the flowers.

They drove by very slowly-you know I can see it in my minds eye exactly. I must have been no older than 7. I have never gotten the sight of that hearse out of my head.

I recollect so much from that time. It is always vivid-I hope always to know it in my memory. I sit at my desk and my sister smiles at me from a photograph-my grandmother Wickie is there too. I love them-and I guess you could say that I dwell on them too. They have been dead for a long long time.

Forty years ago today I was made to rise earlier than usual. There were five others-we were all marched around various buildings around barracks D signing papers and the last building was a warehouse of civilian clothes-all in piles. Piles of pants-and piles of shirts. The only thing we kept were the shoes we wore. We dropped our blue jean uniforms into the other piles and selected civilian clothes from the civilian piles and changed.

It was just daylight when we were marched to the entrance of the base and handed our discharges and final pay. I remember taking my shoes off and leaving them-walking off in stocking feet. I can nearly clearly remember in my minds eye that moment 40 years ago. On the opposite corner was a place that hooked sailors in with offers of credit and the best of civilian clothes-and on the corner across from that was a place that sold shoes-I finished my civilian dress with a pair. Beatle boots-I can never forget them,the most useless shoe I ever wore.

I can look out the bedroom window-just this very moment-at 4604 Bel Pre Road. Vividly I can see my brothers out on the lawn playing. Carl was not even six-just barely. I see the green Chrysler New Yorker and the guy driving it-his black go-tee beard on his face and yet he was turned looking behind his car through the window at a house for sale. He and his wife never saw Carl run out in front of the car. Only me-only our brother Joey-and only the little girl with Down syndrome from across the street.

I remember it vividly-the memory  will never go away…the red jacket my mother had his small body dressed in-or how the people at funeral home treated us with such kindness. I’ll never forget following behind the hearse on the long drive to Pottstown. I will never forget that.

The remarkable date of 40 years is easy to keep track of. 14,600 days ago.

The violence of the dreams that are continual parts of my life since barracks D help me keep track.

The moment I wake in the morning time-I think of the place and the memory of it seems to always be waiting for me…somewhere. I rise up and the trip to the toilet is my next reminder-and then the shower my next…40 years,the memory cannot evade me. The damage is too intense-just as the dreams and just as the shadow  of  barracks D the physical damage is a daily reminder too. Don’t dwell on it, you say? As the toilet paper disappears up my ass….don’t dwell on it? As it takes extra care to wash when finally in the shower…don’t dwell on it? You explain how not too!

Jesus Christ did not die for nothing-He died for my sins,so I am taught to know. But , being raped was not my sin. Spending nearly two months in the presence of my attackers-being abused all that time…never changed,and never ended. And never has been my sin-only my torment.

look out ma-here comes the elephant boy

February 15, 2010

Originally uploaded by jayfherron


The title comes from a John Prine song.
What was in his head when he wrote it has not been explained to me-but what is in my head when I hear it is the story of an oddity-a kid with an odd something about himself.

Call me odd. It won’t matter-it truly does not matter. It is too late to change me to any other way,I have adjusted to living like this after so long. I might as well. My life has been this for so long that it is a callous. Just as if I was a hand that worked all of its life with pick axe or a shovel or some kind of hard work.

There is a movie by Werner Herzog-titled “Where the Green Ants Dream”. It is a strange story about an Australian mining operation that is disrupted by a group of Aborigine peoples protest of the destruction of a sacred ant species. The people end up in court to fight for the right to keep the land sacred-and the judge calls a man from the Aborigine group to testify. This guy rambles on in a language of his own and the judge asked for someone to interpret what was said. No one could-he was the last of his people,his tribe-his language. Only he spoke it-and he knew what was being said.

That is the odd part about me. I feel silenced and isolated. I feel like an elephant boy. I feel as if only I understand what is being said.

I spoke to a survivor yesterday. We have been talking about organizing to rally against the Veterans Administration for the civil rights of veterans who have suffered from MST contributing PTSD. My conversation was with another elephant boy…elephant man…elephant woman…elephant girl…elephant white…elephant black….elephant odd ass person-an oddity. An Aborigine with out a language-because no one can understand what the oddity has to say.

As I spoke to this veteran-a United States Army Viet Nam era veteran-a rape survivor…I heard me talking! I heard my language being spoken. It was almost as if I was on the telephone and listening to myself. The things that were being said could only have been understood by someone like me. That someone understands the pain of the loneliness of our lives-the secret we have to endure…the self hate and self destruction-all because of what happened at the hands of others.

It is such a confused life. The Military Sexual Trauma survivors life. My conversation was with a soul just like me-growing up in an age where defending our country and our Constitution was the important key to survival and freedom…we were raised on values to salute the flag of our nation and march against any that would cause us a threat-to teach other lands,not as free as ours,the rights and freedoms-a word called democracy is used….the rights and freedoms of our United States.

We are elephant boys now…elephant men…elephant woman…elephant black…elephant white…with out a language-except with in our own group,but-the group is so isolated by its silence. We are oddities! We are not like the rest-we are silenced. We have no rights.

Look out Ma here comes the elephant boy-all dressed up in his corduroy!

Military Sexual Trauma is just a title-it once upon a time was not even known as anything….unless perhaps it had a behavioral title-such as ‘sexual activity’ or ‘homosexual behavior’ but not as an injury.

Imagine what it is like to look up to heros from eras past-like the men of Iwo Jima…or the those captured during war time and kept as POW’s. Just imagine what it might be like to want to be like those-to be a hero,to fight the battles and defending what is right,believing in what is right….and then it is shut down,and shut away by the devience of another’s power over you. Everything is taken away-the desire…the belief…and the ability to defend. We no longer feel the honor of the duty we stepped forward to do-and feel the right to stand up next to the others who made it through-the true veterans…we feel the right is lost.


Look out Ma…

reflections in window at Waikiki

February 2, 2010

reflections in window at Waikiki

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

my very special grandson-Jared

February 1, 2010

my very special grandson-Jared

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

This little boy is beginning his 7th month in his little life-to date he has survived 3 surgeries,the most recent was just less than three weeks ago…open heart surgery.

It is hard to explain-why is this? As he lay in his ICU room this past month another baby lay in the room next to his-that baby was on an artificial heart…why is this?

In the bible in the book of Isaiah it says there is “no searching Gods understanding”….there surely isn’t!