Creative Brooding

Welcome to my blog. My name is Pat O'Connor and I wanted to create one little spot where I could share feelings, thoughts, even ramble if I want to. Perhaps too, reveal a side of me very few know about. If there are two words I would use to describe myself, those two would be iconoclastic and eclectic.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Throwaway Children

It has been said, that we are all given our crosses to bear in our lives. Certainly, lymphedema with all the complications including lymphoma was one of mine. My second one was the abuse and rejection I experienced as a small child.

It is true, that we have no choice in the cross that we were born with. But we do have a choice in how we respond to and carry that cross, especially as an adult.

It also amazes me how many generations and descendants of a person’s family are affected by the actions of the parents. Mom and dad, whatever you do to your child, your are also doing to your grandchildren, great grand children and perhaps even beyond.
But, I digress, so back to our story.
When my mother and John were married, we lived in Jacksonville, Florida. We stayed there long enough for mother to give him two daughters of his own. Susan, the oldest was born in 1954 and Diana in 1956. After that he was transferred to Tennessee and then subsequently to southern California. I am assuming it was Camp Pendleton as that was the largest Marine Corps facility in the state.

Immediately after my mother and dad’s divorce, our dad disappeared forever from our lives. The story that I am told is that mom had caused him to be fired from every position he had and that the final straw was the last time he came to see us. He had brought Marion (my older sister) a dress. Mother ripped it up and John threatened to have his marine “buddies” take care of him if he ever showed up again. How true it is, perhaps we will never know, but the story comes from several sources.

Alcohol was also a central problem with both mother and John. They are the type of people whose entire personality changes with drinking. When you add alcohol to unstable mean spirited people, they become even more cruel and violent.

My earliest memories of childhood are filled with recollections of this violence and brutality. One of John’s disciplinary tactics was to pull you around by the hair and throw you down on the floor.

When I was about four years old, our dog peed on the floor. John of course accused me of doing it so he put the leather belt all over me and rubbed my face in the dog pee.

There was also a park nearby that my older brother, sister and I would go to. I remember how upset they would get because I would refuse to join them in begging people at the park for food.

While living in that same house, my sister Marion ate poison as a result of digging food from a neighbor’s garbage can.

From Jacksonville, John was briefly transferred to a base in Tennessee. With one glaring exception, I don’t have too many memories from there.

While mother and John were out at the bar, a severe storm passed through our area and a tornado took of the top of our two story house. It was incredibly frightening for five children, ages 8 through 3 and home alone.

Shortly after that, John was transferred to southern California as I mentioned above. We were not there long as events unfolding in Oregon were soon to have a profound effect on us.

In the late forties, mother's oldest sister, Paula had sold all her beauty colleges, schools and shops throughout Southern California and decided to be a rancher in Oregon.

She bought an 1800 spread, called Fall Creek, just outside a tiny town named Glide, Oregon. Her financial stature increased even more when she married a very well to do rancher Lossie. Together, they had properties all over the state of Oregon and beyond.

Mother decided she wanted to stake a claim on this wealth and get as much as she could from Paula. So, leaving John behind in Camp Pendelton, she packed we five children up and moved to Oregon.

We settled into a 1600 acres ranch, owned of course, by Uncle Lossie outside another small town named Yoncalla.

John only came up for visits and even those rare events were
full of the usual violence and abuse. I remember the first time it snowed. I had never played in snow before, so I thought it would be a grand idea to go out and build a snowman.

Apparently, it was a very wrong decision, and John kept beating me hard enough and long enough that the leather belt he used actually broke.

In the meantime, something had changed in me and I fought back against the abuse. This is not such a good idea when you are a five year old against a grown woman and a marine sargeant.

When I fought back, mother would hold my head under the water faucet until I could no longer breathe and lapsed into compliance.

Another favorite punishment would be to have me stand in the corner until I came close to passing out.

We were not in Yoncalla very long before John had one of those "forced" honorable resignations from the Marine Corps (thanks naturally to mother's actions). At that point they made a decision that it was time to be rid of the O'Connor children and we were to be carted back off to Florida and dumped on relatives.

Ironically, their decision based in evil was the best possible course of action for me. It provided me with years of somewhat of a normal childhood, gave me a person who became (and still is) my mother in my heart and enabled me to get medical care for the worsening lymphedema.

By the time we left Yoncalla, I was such a wreck from the abuse that I would wake up in the middle of the night after having vomited all over my bed....and yes, there was punishment for that as well.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Against our Fear
Fearful, God, we are fearful
even though you yourself said
“Do not fear; I will be with you.”
We cannot help oursleves
We are fearful
for our families
for our jobs
for our insecurities
We are fearful
that we have it all wrong
that we are wrong about you
that everyone will know
our secrets

We are fearful…of you
because we can hide notihng
from you

Our insecurities, our secrets,
our fears all are laid
bare before you
and we are terrified
We fear you but for all
the wrong reasons
and in all the wrong ways

So we ask, God, against
our fear that you be with
us that you be our
strength and shield that
you take away everything
that makes us fearful
And we ask fearfully,
knowing that
you will answer.

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Friday, March 09, 2007


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Irish Poems and Blessings

for our upcoming St. Patrick's Day

17 March 2007

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by Patrick MacGill (1890- )

from 1000 years of Irish Poetry

I speak with a proud tongue of the people who were

And the people who are,

The worthy of Ardara, the Rosses and Inishkeel,

My kindred-

The people of the hills and the dark-haired passes

My neighbours on the lift of the brae,I

n the lap of the valley.

To them Slainthé!

I speak of the old men,

The wrinkle-rutted,

Who dodder about foot-weary -

For their day is as the day that has been and is no more -

Who warm their feet by the fire,

And recall memories of the times that are gone;

Who kneel in the lamplight and pray

For the peace that has been theirs -

And who beat one dry-veined hand against another

Even in the sun-

For the coldness of death is on them.

I speak of the old women

Who danced to yesterday's fiddle

And dance no longer.

They sit in a quiet place and dream

And see visions

Of what is to come,

Of their issue,

Which has blossomed to manhood and womanhood -

And seeing thus

They are happy

For the day that was leaves no regrets,

And peace is theirs

And perfection.

I speak of the strong men

Who shoulder their burdens in the hot day,

Who stand on the market-place

And bargain in loud voices,

Showing their stock to the world.

Straight the glance of their eyes -



Under their feet the holms blossom,

The harvest yields.

The their path is of prosperity.

I speak of the women,

Strong hipped, full-bosomed,

Who drive the cattle to graze at dawn,

Who milk the cows at dusk.

Grace in their homes,

And in the crowded ways

Modest and seemly -

Mother of children!

I speak of the children

Of the many townlands,

Blossoms of the Bogland,

Flowers of the Valley,

Who know not yesterday, nor to-morrow,

And are happy,

The pride of those who have begot them.

And thus it is,

Every and always,I

n Ardara, the Rosses and Inishkeel -

Here, as elsewhere,

The Weak, the Strong, and the Blossoming -

And thus my kindred.

To them Slainthé!


* * * * * * * *


by J. J. Callananfrom

The Poetry and Song of Ireland

When dullness shall chain the wild harp that would praise thee,

When its last sigh of freedom is heard on thy shore,

When its raptures shall bless the false hearth that betrays thee -

Oh, then, dearest Erin, I'll love thee no more!

When thy sons are less tame than their own ocean waters,

When their last flash of wit and genious is o'er,

When virtue and beauty forsake thy young daughters -

Oh, then, dearest Erin, I'll love thee no more!

When the sun that now holds his bright path o'er the mountains

Forgets the green fields that he smiled on before,

When no moonlight shall sleep on thy lakes and thy fountains -

Oh, then, dearest Erin, I'll love thee no more!

When the name of the Saxon and tyrant shall sever,

When the freedom you lost you no longer deplore,

When the thoughts of your wrongs shall be sleeping forever -

Oh, then, dearest Erin, I'll love thee no more!

* * * * * * * *


by J. J. Callanan

from The Poetry and Song of Ireland

Still green are thy mountains and bright is thy shore, And the voice of thy fountains is heard as of yore: The sun o'er thy valleys, dear Erin, shines on,Though thy bard and thy lover forever is gone.


Nor shall he, an exile, thy glad scenes forget -The friends fondly loved, ne'er again to be met -The glens where he mused on the deeds of his nation,And waked his young harp with wild inspiration.

Still, still, though between us may roll the broad ocean, Will I cherish thy name with the same deep devotion; And though minstrels more brilliant my place may supply, None loves you more fondly, more truly than I.

* * * * * * * *

Songs of Our Land

by Francis Brown

Songs of our land, ye are with us for ever,The power and the splendor of thrones pass away;But yours is the might of some far flowing river.Through Summer's bright roses or Autumn's decay.Ye treasure each voice of the swift passing ages,And truth which time writeth on leaves or on sand;Ye bring us the thoughs of poets and sages,And keep them among us, old songs of our land.

The bards may go down to the place of their slumbers,The lyre of the charmer be hushed in the grave,But far in the future the power of their numbersShall kindle the hearts of our faithful and brave,It will waken an echo in souls deep and lonely,Like voices of reeds by the summer breeze fanned;It will call up a spirit for freedom, when onlyHer breathings are heard in the songs of our land.

For they keep a record of those, the true-hearted,Who fell with the cause they had vowed to maintain;They show us bright shadows of glory departed,Of love that grew cold and hope that was vain.The page may be lost and the pen long forsaken,And weeds may grow wild o'er the brave heart and hand;But ye are still left when all else hath been taken,Like streams in the desert, sweet songs of our land.

Songs of our land, ye have followed the stranger,With power over ocean and desert afar,Ye have gone with our wanderers through distance and danger,And gladdened their path like a homeguiding star.With the breath of our mountains in summers long vanished,And visions that passed like a wave from the sand,With hope for their country and joy from her banished.Ye come to us ever, sweet songs of our land.

The spring time may come with the song of our glory,To bid the green heart of the forest rejoice,But the pine of the mountain though blasted and hoary,And the rock in the desert, can send forth a voice,It was thus in their triumph for deep desolations,While ocean waves roll or the mountains shall stand,Still hearts that are bravest and best of the nations,Shall glory and live in the songs of our land.


* * * * * * * *

Irish Blessings

May the Irish hills caress you. May her lakes and rivers bless you.May the luck of the Irish enfold you. May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

Now sweetly lies old Ireland. Emerald green beyond the foam, Awakening sweet memories, Calling the heart back home.

Ireland, it's the one place on earth. That heaven has kissedWith melody, mirth, And meadow and mist.

Wherever you go and whatever you do,
May the luck of the Irish be there with you.

May your heart be warm and happy. With the lilt of Irish laughter. Every day in every way.
And forever and ever after.

May the luck of the Irish possess you. May the devil fly off with your worries. May God bless you forever and ever.

Bless your little Irish heart - and every other Irish part.

Ireland is where strange tales begin and happy endings are possible.

An Irish method for tackling problems; There comes a time when you must take the bull By the tail and face the situation squarely.

Here's to good Irish friends. Never above you. Never below you. May the Irish hills caress you. May her lakes and rivers bless you. May the luck of the Irish enfold you. May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

Now sweetly lies old Ireland.

Emerald green beyond the foam, Awakening sweet memories, Calling the heart back home.

Ireland, it's the one place on earth. That heaven has kissed With melody, mirth,And meadow and mist.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, May the luck of the Irish be there with you.
May your heart be warm and happy With the lilt of Irish laughterEvery day in every way. And forever and ever after.

May the blessing of Light be on you - light without and light within, May the blessed sunlight shine on you and warm your heart till it glows like a great peat fire, so that the stranger may come and warm himself at it, and also a friend. And may the light shine out of the two eyes of you, like a candle set in two windows of a house, bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.

And may the blessing of the Rain be on you - the soft sweet rain. May it fall upon your spirit so that all the little flowers may spring up, and shed their sweetness on the air. And may the blessing of the Great Rains be on you, may they beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean, and leave there many a shining pool where the blue of heaven shines, and sometimes a star.

And may the blessing of the Earth be on you - the great round earth; may you ever have a kindly greeting for them you pass as you're going along the roads. May the earth be soft under you when yourest upon it, tired at the end of the day, and mayit rest easy over you when, at the last, you layout under it; May it rest so lightly over you, that your soul may be out from under it quickly, and up, and off, and on its way to God.


May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, And the rains fall soft upon your fields.And until we meet again. May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

* * * * * * * *

Pat O'Connor

9 March 2007

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