Family Fiction posted May 21, 2023 Chapters:  ...12 13 -14- 15... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Little Mary was forced to grow up fast with consequence

A chapter in the book Angels Unaware

Part II Against All Odds

by forestport12

Mary grew up fast. When she was sixteen, she dreamed about finding an airman from the base in San Antonio where she could move far away and start a life of her own. The day we met on the church lawn,

Mary Ella was only nine-years old when her mother locked her and little sis outside the trailer home. She fretted over what to do. Her Daddy told her to go to the neighbor house and call him at work should their mother have another episode.

Mary hadn't counted on having most of her childhood taken, but someone had to grow up in a hurry, if the Blakely family was to get through it. It must have been a hundred in the shade that summer in San Antonio. She decided to try and talk her mother into letting her and sis back inside, before she had to make the long country walk in the sweltering heat, not to mention how the trailer reflected heat.

She pounded on the door. "Mom let us in! It's hotter than a firecracker on the fourth of July."

But there was no reasoning with their mother, as little sis clung to Mary. The wheels in her mothers mind spun out of control. "You 'all stay put. It ain't safe in here." Truth was, she feared doing something wrong-something sinister.

"But Momma, you got to let us in, we can't make it out here! Whatever it is, let us help!"

Mary Ella grabbed her sisters hand and headed off to the neighbor's house a few scratchy fields over, not mention snakes. When the call went through and Mary's father heard of it, he dropped the phone and broke the speed limit from Austin Texas to get there.

It turned out the pills Mother took didn't help none. She kept hearing voices, ones that told her the devil was in the house and hosts of things that meant danger surrounded her. She had been diagnosed schizophrenic. The Blakely's had no choice but to put her in a hospital for many weeks where she underwent shock therapy until she could hardly recall what went wrong. When she did arrive home, she was a few rungs higher than a zombie.

It made Ella grow up fast. She became the adult in the room, making Dad his lunch for work and doing mother's chores even after she'd come home, half a person. Sometimes it meant going to school, doing homework, and chores. Her life wouldn't be easy.

From the moment Mary Ella was born with her mom's cord wrapped around her neck, she'd been marked for a tough life. Turning from pink to blue, the doctor smacked her. She screamed a blood curdling cry. She learned early that pain would be a sign of survival. It meant you were alive for another day. She was a fighter, like her grandmother in Arkansas she'd been named after.
In fact, Mary Ella had her grandma's golden hair and stark blue eyes. Later in life she proved to have her spunk and spirit too.

Mary's grandfather Blakely came from the Ozark mountains of Arkansas, raised in the depression era. He was the youngest son of three boys raised on a farm nestled between mountains. For some reason the younger Blakely took the brunt of his father's abuse. Perhaps it was because he was smaller while his brothers grew big as oxen. The old man wasn't willing to beat anyone he couldn't control.

Mary's grandfather Blakely finally escaped his own father's brutal legacy of getting horse whipped and sometimes clocked by surviving long enough to get married to Ella, the matriarch of the mountains. She'd even stood up to her husband's father over stealing her husband's paychecks. She was no woman to be trifled with. And it turned out she exuded a fierce inner faith to match her outward attitude.

Like Mary Ella, grandma had yellow hair fine as straw in the sun and penetrating blue eyes. Her grandparents married and started a hardscrabble life together. They lived in a log cabin where there was a spring fed creek for drinking and bathing, no indoor plumbing, and oil lamps to light the home. Modern technology was a long way off after the depression when it came to the Ozarks.

Jimmy, the grandfather discovered his hands could make a living in the cabinetry business. He became well-known as someone gifted with woodworking. He decided early on to use his hands to refine and define in a creative way. When it came to punishment, he'd lecture his boys with pain on his face until they preferred Grandma Blakely's switch from a willow tree to their father's painful talking to.

Early on in their marriage, Ella sensed her husband was hiding the fact that he couldn't read. She showed him a document and asked him to read it out loud.

With a twisted look of shame on his face, Jimmy confessed. "Sorry to say, El. I can't read a lick."

Ella sprang into action. She grabbed her old leather Bible and started to teach Pappa Blakely how to read from her King James Bible. From then on they'd spent their spare nights before bed under an oil lamp where Jimmy stumbled through each verse like a small child.

One particular night Ella led her husband to John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." It was then he prayed and found the bitterness of his former life dissolving away, replaced with a new heart.

A legacy of faith was born and during the dark days of Mary Ella's upbringing in a home with a mother whose mind was fractured, she'd found that inner strength and leaned on the mountain stories as told to her by her grandmother. She knew life would never be a rose garden. But she believed one day, by God's grace she'd have someone to love and be a help mate too, like her grandma was to her grandfather.

Sadly, Mary Ella's grandfather passed away the summer before we met. He died of an inoperable brain tumor. Some in the family concluded that he'd suffered from so many beatings, it could have caused his tumor. It may have explained why he'd had severe headaches at an early age.

Unknown author:
Grandparents tell us of a way of life that's past.
When the world wasn't moving oh so fast.
When the family sat together every day
To eat, to laugh, to sing, to talk, and pray.

Book of the Month contest entry

I'm filling in Mary's background as I approach the halfway mark of a very true story. I've relied on Mary to fill the details and background, most of which was collaborated when her grandmother was alive.

Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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