I Learned I Had A Fighting Spirit…
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
I sat underneath the curtain of leaves, frozen to one spot. I couldn’t move… I didn’t even blink my eyes. In my mind … I wasn’t there… in reality, I was.
I made myself keep breathing… as softly as possible. I didn’t want to be seen, I didn’t want to be heard. I did NOT want to be there!
I was playing hide and seek… I succeeded in finding the perfect hiding place. I sat there with my smug little smile while thinking to myself… I won’t never be found.
I was in the garden… inside the curtain of green beans… the curtain grew up on one side… over the wire in the middle… hanging down to the ground on the other side.
I stayed quiet; I was peeking out of my hiding place to see where my cousin was. He was yelling, ‘come out, come out… wherever you are’! I wasn’t revealing myself… he was going to have to find me. I liked to hide… I didn’t like to seek!
Now… I was in a situation… I wanted to come out, give up, be found… I couldn’t. I couldn’t even find my voice to scream! I sat frozen in place staring right into a foot-long preying mantis’s big eyes!
I felt faint… I wanted to run. If I ran, that thing could jump on me! I was a little girl… it was ‘bigger than me’! I sat there staring at him… he stared at me. He didn’t blink an eye… but, he turned his head.
He looked so intelligent… I knew he could tell what I was thinking. He was sitting in the curtain of leaves… blocking my path. I couldn’t make a noise… he would jump into my mouth. I just knew he would!
‘Help!’ I kept screaming in my mind. No one could hear me… ‘help!’ I could see my cousin standing not far from me… I wanted to hit the leaves with my foot, or my hand to get his attention. That preying mantis would jump all over me if I did!
I felt something begin to rise in me… something that was soon becoming more familiar to me the longer I stayed in Hell… at my Grandma Alma, George’s home.
It felt like anger… mixed with fear. I felt mad because something had me trapped when I wanted to go. The longer I sat there, the more angry I became. Damn! There goes that word again… it was a ‘damn’ situation!
I had learned to cuss good living at Grandma Alma, and George’s. I knew good words by this time. I was thinking ‘I’m going to get the hell outta of here’! (Of course, cussing isn’t a good thing in a little girl’s vocabulary! You would have cussed, too… if you lived in Hell!)
The next thing I knew… I began slinging my little fists, wanting to fight a bear. I would whip its ass… I meant to come out of my ‘trap’.
Come out, I did! I busted through those green leaves, they flew everywhere, and I was screaming like a banshee! “I can’t take it any more’!
When I came out of the green leaves that fast… I scared my cousin, he ran like hell. I fell on the ground in hysterics… still seeing that preying mantis in my mind, and laughing like crazy. I’d never seen my cousin run like that. I scared him to death!
I had torn up the green bean vines in Grandma Alma’s garden… but, I came out of there. I was learning that when something cornered me… I… WAS going to come out.
I didn’t know I was learning I had … a fighting spirit. One that would carry me through many battles as I grew up. I would fight a bear, a monster even knowing it’d ‘kill me’… if I had to. I was learning to hold my ground… not run, even if I was afraid.
Before I came to Hell as a little girl, I never had to fight battles. I wore pretty clothes, shoes. My hair was fixed pretty… I could bathe in a pure white bathtub with warm water… nothing jumped on me when I’d begin my walk to the bathroom at night-time.
Living in Hell… at Grandma Alma, George’s …. I began to learn to fight to survive. I learned by watching, hearing the blows as fights would break out any minute. There was never any peace there. I’ve never known complete ‘peace of mind’ in my entire life.
I look back, and I can almost ‘know’ exactly when my fighting spirit kicked in. A little child, a little girl… had to learn to fight to hold her ground… though at that age… this little girl didn’t know what it was called.
I would have fought that preying mantis, tooth for tooth. I never saw it again… it disappeared back into the green leaves. It WAS green… that’s why I never saw it until… I met it … eye to eye.
I was ready for it… it was flight or fight… I was ready to fight. Imagine a little girl ready to fight… long hair, little sweet,cherub face, wearing a dress, barefooted. I should have been playing with my dolls, tea set, toys… somehow, in the shuffle of life… all my treasured possessions were lost, never to be found.
I had begun to learn how to feel anger as that little girl… I didn’t know the name of what was happening when I was cornered, or had to take up for myself, then. Through the years I learned that I had a… fighting spirit.