My Parents’ Wedding Day

Emmett and Frances Lee
would have been married 72 years today

By Georgia Lee ( From “A Father’s Legacy – Your life story in your own words”) Dad’s journal.
Journal Prompt: Tell me about your wedding day. What Happened? How did you feel? Were you nervous, scared, Happy?

GOOD LORD! Again, you ask such personal questions. Ok – Wartime, remember? Continue reading

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MY FATHER – ON WRITING

Writing books is easy!

By Georgia Lee, from the diary of Emmett Lee     

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Dad reading to my son Miles, 1991

      When my father, Emmett Lloyd Lee, turned 80, I gave him a guided journal

“A Father’s Legacy – Your Life’s Story in Your Own Words.” Dad is a

natural, conversational writer, full of depth yet lacking pretension. Reluctantly

accepting my gift, he then became obsessed with writing every day, filling every page

Continue reading

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PSYCHOTIC IN AMERICA – a mother speaks

 

By Georgia Lee (updated post)IMG_3564

April 2014 – I’m crying as I write this.

     Yesterday, Easter Sunday–visiting hours at Peachford Hospital. My son is in complete lockdown. Maximum security unit for the most severely disturbed mental patients.

      Sean (not his real name) is 26. Scraggly beard (no razors allowed) wrapped in a sheet over baggy gym shorts and flip-flops (no shoe strings or drawstrings allowed) Suicide risks.

      Alone at an orange table, he stabs a plastic “spork” into a tangerine. Not to eat it. He’s searching for poison, examining strings. He doesn’t look up at me.

     I brought an Easter basket. The front desk searched and transferred contents into a brown paper bag. They “wanded” me through metal detectors, kept my possessions and sent me to my car, where cell phones must be locked. 

    “Easter Bunny came,” I set the bag on the table. Inside are jokey gifts. Super-Hero socks. Origami paper. A journal with an ancient map of the new world. 

     He’ll either lose or throw it all away, but I wanted him to have something. He smiles a little at the Batman socks, examines the journal’s uncharted territories.

    Talk to him, I say, knowing it will be harder, MUCH harder than communicating with a two-year-old.

      I’ve phoned the ward each night, always answered by a different attendant. Not one has heard of him. “I.D. Number?”  before I get out his full name. I recite a memorized  “&^*^x4.”

    “Oh, he’s fine, just fine,” they say. If they don’t know his name, how do they know? Isn’t “he’s fine” a HIPPA violation?

      Below, read how “just fine” he is:

     HIM: I’ve calculated the numbers of our birthdays into a formula for our exact dates of death. Mine is next Tuesday. I’m working on yours. It’s genius. Are you ever going to explain why you’re on ADULT FRIEND FINDER? (sex site) Dad’s running a “girlfriend experience” site. His girlfriend is on it, and my ex-girlfriend’s mother is too.

      ME: I don’t even know…I begin and stop. (He won’t hear me)

     HIM: I saw your picture. I’ll never trust you again. And Gracie? (our 10-year-old-cat) She’s pure evil, bad juju. You put her down. When you get home, kill her.

      He covers the suspicious tangerine poison, without touching, inside a brown napkin.

     HIM: The government is a prostitution ring. Aliens control the ecology of religion. Vladmir Putin controls aliens. Michelle Obama wears the God Helmet. My ex-girlfriend’s father is pimping her out.

     He stops, softens and breaks into a toddler’s world. Head hangs, bottom lip trembles, baby tears spill.

     HIM: My granddaddy used to take me to the park in the truck. We’d listen to…Hamlet. But when I fell off the go-around on the playground I got…scared!

      His granddaddy, my father, recently died. Sean is convinced he killed him but breaks down when he speaks of it. He jumps up, runs to the refrigerator, returns with a chocolate milk and leans back in his chair. Grandfather forgotten.
HIM: I want to stay here, not out in the world that’s killing everybody. But I see those cameras over there. (I don’t) I can’t stay here, so I want to be homeless. No. I just want to die. 

     ME: I understand. But I think you’ rather get well and feel better. Too many people love you. How would your sister and I feel without you? What would your grandmother (who died two years ago) think?

     HIM: She’ll be glad to see me. I want to go to my heavenly home. (a phrase he’s never used)

     ME: Can I hold your hand, please?

     Suspicious, he flattens his hand on the table. I cover my hand over his cold fingers.

    ME:  I’ll always be here. You’re going to get better. Just take the medicine the doctor prescribed. It’ll help.”

     HIM: What doctor? I haven’t seen any doctor around here. I’m not taking any poison from anybody.

     ME: Everybody wants to help you.

He jerks his hand away, reaches to slap my face but misses.

     HIM: “GET OUT OF HERE, GET OUT, NOW – NOW!!!”

     He yells and bats his hands at me like shooing flies.

     HIM: Your face is black oil underground. You’re melting into him, the devil. Evil.

VISITING HOURS ARE OVER, MAM” Across the room, a 300-pound woman yells.

     Leaving here rips my soul. Puke yellow doors clang behind me solid as the prison that this is. I press my face into the cold metal.

    I hear screaming inside. “Help me! Oh God, please, somebody help me. I’m dying. Help Me.”

    It’s him. My baby. Crying, yelling, alone. Nobody helps. I’m helpless, locked out. Now I can’t breathe. Heart. Bursting. I run through winding halls, no way out and no way in.

      Through empty halls, I stop the first “badged” person in sight.

     “Please, can you help me?”

     “Well, I’m late and in the middle of something,” she says, matter-of-fact.

      “But I can’t drive home. I might be having a heart attack. I can’t breathe.”

     “I’ll find somebody. Just wait there.”

     She goes into a room, shuts the door.      

     I wait 45 minutes, an hour? The wall is lined with 12 paintings, one for each of the 12 Steps. I study them, one by one. I could recite all these steps and a dozen books on them. My son can beat that. He’s memorized the entire Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

     Which step gets us out of here?

    I slide down the wall, head on my arms. Not one person notices me. I’m invisible. There is no help.

    I push up to my feet. Through the maze, I spot a red exit sign. I hope the alarm does goes off. That might get someone’s attention. The door opens, no problem.

    Outside, in luminous sun on tulips, pansies, and azaleas, I rip off my VISITOR sticky badge and throw it in the garden. I don’t remember driving home.

     I’ve suffered severe depressive episodes for decades. If I thought Peachford, or anywhere, would help me, I’d check right in. If I had the insurance or money to pay for it.

     But they wouldn’t take me. Not suicidal, homicidal or violent, I won’t qualify for even an overnight stay. The E.R. would put me in a room with a cot on the floor and a urinal for at least eight hours, then release me with instructions to exercise and eliminate stress. See a psychiatrist. Good luck finding one that takes insurance. The latest Trump care repeal/replace of the ACA proposes to eliminate mental health care coverage and/or allow insurance to charge higher premiums for that pre-existing condition.

    That summer of 2014, Sean was hospitalized eight times, for 7 days each, the precise time prescribed by insurance.   Hospitals “stabilize” patients, through groups (patients treating patients) then dump them on the sidewalk with a “homeless packet” of charity shelters with red tape and waiting lists. Imagine a psychotic patient with no family/support, transportation or money navigating that list. They don’t call it a “homeless packet’ for nothing. Look around parks, intersections, under overpasses. Homeless in America.

     Private treatment is outrageously expensive. (My family spent well over $250,000 on six residential treatments for short-term benefits and afterward, relapses.     

    For-profit treatment is a racket, with groups (again, patients curing patients) like AA meetings, free on every corner.  Still, rich people get rehab, poor or middle-income get jail. Insurance won’t consider this illness worth paying for. The U.S.A. – richest country in the world. No mental health care, but hey, you sure can get Viagra or Cialis.

      UPDATE: 18 months after staying at The Extension, a (free) residential program that helps men stay off drugs, find jobs, contributing 30 percent of income for room and board, Sean is healthy, sober, working and in school. He’s sees a psychiatrist on a sliding scale. Before stumbling on The Extension, I’d spent hours searching for residential treatment, averaging $1,000 PER DAY.

My only son, firstborn child could have been homeless, imprisoned or dead, as several of his friends are. I’m not naïve, religious and don’t believe in miracles. Yet I rely on an amorphous Amazing Grace that I don’t understand. The serenity of the words comfort me.

Yet our health care/insurance/government industrial complex shows little grace, compassion or common decency. If you find this appalling, visit www.nami.org. Resist the repeal of the ACA. Contact your congressmen relentlessly. Vote.

 

 

View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

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footwear friday – vote early, vote often

Vote for you favorite footwear! At the recent Southeastern Writers Conference, Saint Simons, Ga., your intrepid former fashion reporter did an impromptu survey of summer comfort and fashion shoes. Check out these lovely ladies and (one man) pedicures and all.

TOP:  Jan Babcock in Donald Pliner;  BELOW, LEFT TO RIGHT:   Pam Bolyn Hunter in Impo;  Jeanie Loiacono in Chocos with fitness monitor;   Heather Trim in riding boots;  Pam Mather in Converse;  Georgia Lee in Munro;  Stu Blandford in Bjorns;  Mary Stripling in (unsure)  Dana Ridenour in Sanuks; 

Summer fashion, fun, comfort

Summer fashion, fun, comfort

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SCRAPS -EMBRACING REJECTION

By Georgia Lee 

            

I try, yet never enough.
And when I do try enough
I know it
But nobody cares or even listens  
And you know that can hurt.
Where did all that work go?
Why try a little, a lot, at all?
Why pretend, writer/artist/musician
breaking rocks in the hot sun?
 
Leave those tons of granite
just keep digging for that
one glittery mica fingernail
torn from some corpse
It shines. It reflects.
hey, you’re good blah blah, see ya.
 
People-pleasing fake that I am
I will learn to devour sweat
laugh at tangled brain wires
breathe in a tasty headache
 
Those roadblock rocks
will absorb heat under our sun 
when I, on my cold death bed
decide not to dance around
your sacred bonfire of regret
 
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Pat Conroy’s Tall Tale launched “To Dance With the White Dog”

Terry Kay on Southern Authors, New York Publishers, and why literary fiction matters – By Georgia Lee

Author Terry Kay’s beloved “To Dance with the White Dog” might never have existed, if not for a whopper of a tall tale, from writer Pat Conroy. Continue reading

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The lunatic is on the grass: A schizophrenic golfer unwittingly removes stigma of mental health

Re-blogged from “Take off the Mask” – a mental health worker “treats the patient, not the diagnosis,” counter-intuitive to prevailing labels, stigmas and missed-treatment.

takingthemaskoff

2014-07-29_21.07.13

 

“For no amount of our screaming at the people in charge to change things can change them… the powers bent on waging war against the poor and the young and the “other” will only be moved to kinship when they observe it.”

People with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are the most discriminated against people in the history of the world.

A psycho is a derogatory term for someone who is psychotic.  Someone who is psychotic is a person suffering from psychosis.  Psychosis is characterized by a disconnection from reality.

That is it, that is all there is to it. A psycho is someone who is experiencing a disconnection from reality.

At first the term was “mad,” then we called them “crazy,” then “insane,” which became “lunacy” or “lunatics,” and then of course “psychosis” or “psychotic.”

As I have shared stories of the ancient days and how people with mental…

View original post 3,949 more words

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OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT OUR CHILDREN…

Caution: Family Crossing

Caution: Family Crossing

We Talk to Angels

WE TALK TO ANGELS…

Call me Saint Francis of Suburbia.

My back yard is an official Natural Habitat. It’s easy. Go online, check off: Feeders, Water, Trees, and the like, pay $25 (yard flag) up to $100-plus (a bronze plaque) I went with the mid-sized $50 model.

I love my birds. So near, yet unreachable, like my distant grown children or my dead parents.

Click click clicking, like a prehistoric tribal language,  my Cardinals wake me every morning. Monarchs, their reign pre-dates my dozen-year residence here. At this moment, 20 feet away, the blood-red King pecks a beak-full of seeds from my “Super Songbird Station.” He inches over, snuggles his baby’s tiny head to a nurturing kiss – mouth-to-mouth feeding.

So mysterious, these birds. So many questions:

1. I’ve heard that Cardinals mate for life. Is that true? Why would they do that? Haven’t wildlife suffered enough?

2. What is their lifespan? Are these the SAME dozen-year-old Cardinals, or am I watching a succession? Is the hungry Princeling next year’s King, after the father, having served his subjects, passes on? Should I, as protective saint, declare: “The king is dead, long live the king,” and all that?

3.  Are birds REALLY dinosaur descendants? How does a teeny bird evolve from creatures the size of LeBron James, who “ruled the earth” for 140 million years? How can ancestors be annihilated 40 million years ago by a cataclysmic event, then reincarnate at a bird feeder?

I looked up those figures, but don’t expect me to research anything else. If you know the answers, let me know. I’m free at last of the  accuracy demanded by journalism, my now-extinct career. Mirroring the internet, my blog runs on opinion, bait-and-switch tactics and astonishing misinformation.

My 20-year-old daughter can’t wait to see the new (second, third or fourth?) “Jurassic Park.”

She lives her life in lines – on line, party lines, text lines. I live in circles, within circles. Dreams within dreams. Seasons. Reincarnations. On and On. Round and Round. Alpha and Omega. Yin and Yang. Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity. (Remember the “Ben Casey” show opening?) Of course you don’t.

This morning, teaching yoga, I said “loosen up, y’all. Yoga should be more dance than rigid statue.” It’s not the be all, end all, as some gurus teach it, NOT that I am one. Yoga is one of many paths that overlap and circle around faith, hope, love.

Tolerance may be spin out of organized religion’s orbit. How can any Religion insist on itself as the One Absolute Truth? How do people buy that? By asking the question, am I being intolerant? Probably.

Still. Organized Religion seems part cultural dictate. Like a Tier One college. A good job. You may hate it, but you need money to get married, have at least two kids, buy an overpriced home in a neighborhood with good schools that lead to Tier One colleges. Round and Round.

“Love me all the time girl. We’ll go on and on. Someday when I’m lonely, wishing you weren’t so far away, then I will remember things we said today.”  See: “Things We Said Today” – the most under rated Beatles song. Source: Me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPnTy0Ef2G0

Re: Children: Like baby Cardinals, they’re so helpless, vulnerable, so OURS, that we feed and protect them.

Everyone smiles at them. How old are they? How adorable he/she/it is. As producers of mini celebrities, we beam with delight. Give them our souls, round the clock. Can’t imagine life without them.

Summertime and the living is easy. Daddy’s rich and the kids are good looking.

Then they grow. Into Crows. Pigeons. Perigrine Falcons. Vultures. Velociraptors. Predators, that bite, target the weak, eat carrion, transmit disease. Assuming we’re still in tact, their targets may become: US!

Show me a mother with grown children who hasn’t gone through pure hell at some point, and I’ll give you a thousand dollars. Well, may a hundred. Kahlil Gibran is right (see poem) We don’t own our children. We are delivery devices/vehicles for species evolution.

Silly old me. I thought our love would go on and on. My love did, for my parents and children. I didn’t count on such radical changes.

Whoop. Text just came in. From my son, who may be in a manic, paranoid, schizoaffective state, or some combo of all that and more. I won’t stop to read it now. I know it will be insulting. He rejects my help.

But oh, man. The night he was born. Physical agony combined with bliss of a near-death experience. Less than 24 hours after birth, middle of the night and wide awake, the Angels spoke to me. “Go to the nursery,” they sang. Feeling, yet not caring, that my insides might splatter the hospital halls with each step, I went on, as in a pilgrimage of Sun Salutations over Tibetan mountains to the Dalai Lama. There, among the dozens wrapped in swaddling clothes, I knew him. Him. Widening circles of Faith, Hope Love. And the greatest of these is love.

Okay, Carnac. “And the text says:” Remember “‘Carnac the Magnificent'” from the Johnny Carson Show? Of course you don’t. I read:

“Mom, I trust you to an extent, but you can’t live my life for me. Do you believe in Aliens? They are the Angels. Light Beings. They are but being covered-up. As usual.”

“Yes,” I write back. “I believe in Angels. All around us.”

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Faith Hope Love…

On Children by Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.  You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

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MENTAL ILLNESS – a mother speaks

I’m crying as I write this.
This past Easter Sunday – visiting hours at Peachford Hospital. I am alone.
My son, 26, unshaven, shaking, in flip-flops and torn clothes he slept in, sits alone at a table, peeling a tangerine. He doesn’t eat it. He’s looking for poison. He doesn’t look up when I come in.
I brought an Easter basket. The front desk searched and transferred it to a brown paper bag. They searched me too, with a wand, made me leave all my possessions outside.

He looks in the bag. Little jokey things –  Super-Hero socks, origami paper, a journal with an ancient map with half-discovered territories and a book of word games.
He will lose or misplace it all, but I wanted him to have something. He smiles a little. Likes the Batman socks and the journal best. I try to talk. It is harder, MUCH harder, than communicating with him as a two-year-old. I call every night. Get a different attendant who never heard of him. Give his number&^*^x4. “He’s fine, just fine” they say.
Below: See how “just fine” he really is

HIM: I’ve been calculating the numbers of our birthdays, got a formula for exact date of my death: it will be next Tuesday. I’m working on yours.
Explain why I saw you on ADULT FRIEND FINDER – (sex site) I saw Dad’s girlfriend and xxxx’s mother too. I know what I saw and I’ll never trust you again.
Our cat, Gracie, is evil. She has bad juju.  Put her down immediately. Kill her
The government is a prostitution ring. My ex-girlfriend’s father is pimping her out.
Dad runs a girlfriend experience web site business
Breaks. Looks down. My grand daddy used to take me to the park,…bursts to baby tears, then jumps up, runs to refrigerator for a carton of milk.
Back again.
I want to stay here, not in the world that’s trying to kill everybody. I see those cameras over there. I want to be homeless. No. I want to die. I want to die. I want to die.

ME: You don’t want to die, you’re going to get better. Too many people love you. How would your sister and I feel? What would your grandmother, (who died two years ago) think?
She’d be glad to see me. I want to go to my heavenly home. He cries. He has never said “heavenly home.”

ME: Can I hold your hand? Please? Suspicious, he lets me. I’m here. I’ll always be here. You’re not going to die. You’re going to feel better. Please just take the medicine the dr. wants you to take, and you’ll see.
I haven’t seen any doctor. I’m not taking anything. He’s trying to kill me.

No he’s trying to help you. Jerks hand away. Slaps at me.  GET OUT OF HERE, NOW – NOW!!!
VISITING HOURS ARE OVER, MAM – Behind the desk – a 300 pound woman yells at me.
It tears my soul to leave. Yellow doors clang behind me, solid as the prison that this is.  I stand with my face against the cold metal.
“Help me!, God, please, somebody help me. I’m dying. Help Me.”
It’s him. Screaming. Behind the steel doors. And nobody helps.
I’m his mother and I can only stand, locked out. Then I’m gasping for air. Heart. Bursting. Crying. Lost in the winding halls. Can’t find anyone. I need help. I stagger into doors no idea how to get out, and no way to get back in.
I stop the first person I see. I need help I say.
“I’m in the middle of something. I’m late.”
I stand there, crying. “I can’t drive home like this.”
“I’ll find somebody. Stand right there.” Shuts a door.
I stand there for 45 minutes. Look at each of the 12 paintings of the 12 steps. one by one. on the wall. that’s just fine. yessir just peachy. i could recite all the steps and a dozen books on these. So what now? which step will get us out of here?
I slide down the wall, put my head in my hands. Not one person helps me or even seems to notice me. I’m invisible. good. that’s best. Excellent.
I run through the halls to find a red exit sign. I tear off my sticky VISITOR badge throw it away. Get in the car.
I fought years of my own depression. If I thought this place would help me, I’d check right in.
But they wouldn’t take me. They only stabilize people. I’m not suicidal or homocidal, haven’t committed a crime, so I don’t qualify.

Once these patients are “stabilized,” they will be dump them out on the sidewalk with all  their belongings and no where to go.
Treatment, real treatment, would cost mulitiple thousands, (we’ve been there, spent that) out of pocket. Treatment is a for-profit racket too. Insurance doesn’t call this an illness worth paying for. Neither does our government. The richest country in the world. But hey, you sure can get Viagra or Cialis.
If you find this appalling,  Go to https://www.nami.org/
HOPEGeorgia Lee

 

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At Rest, Soldier Sergeant Emmett Lee – B. 2/16/25 D. 7/1/2014

By Georgia Lee Note: My father, Emmett Lee, died July 1, 2014, a month following this original Memorial Day letter to President Obama, in May 2014, only days before the rapid decline that ended his life. As a Memorial Day celebration of my father’s pride in service and love of country,  I’ve reposted here.  He leaves a dwindling league of  WWII Veterans, now forever free from the tyranny of suffering, illness and old age. By  his deathbed as he lay unresponsive,  I repeated the mantra “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The words were a calming prayer, for an only child losing her last parent, and I trust, an encouragement for him, to unleash his gentle spirit from his battered physical body. And to rest at last, in eternal peace.   An update to my previous post: Reluctant Hero

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