Putting a Dark Place in the Rear View Mirror
If you were to look at the smile of Fred Morrell, you would just think everything was swell, but if you were to dig a little deeper and remove the veil, you would find out that Fred has been on a long hard journey, but he now sees a ray of hope and brighter days ahead. But first, let’s go back and look at Fred’s beginning.
The beginning was pretty rough. He was born into an alcoholic family. His mom and dad were very violent individuals when they fought. Fred states that every time there was a fight, there would be blood, blood from his dad or blood from his mom. And in one of these fights, his dad actually shot his mom in front of him. Fortunately his mother did survive. In telling his story, Fred said he never experienced love from his parents or anyone. The foster homes that he was in were not that much better. He stated that in one foster home, “The parents and their children would eat breakfast at the table and I would sit in the corner and eat my breakfast.” He said that he would always run, leave the foster homes, and he would run back to his mom. But her words were, “Go back to the foster home”.
The only love that Fred said that he could count on during these times was Tonke, the dog. He said that “Tonke would show love to him and would lick his hand.” Fred was kicked out of the school in the eighth grade, he would later find out that part of his temper was growing up in a terrible environment and he was also diagnosed with bipolar.
Finally, Fred went from the foster homes to detention centers and he would ultimately spend years in prison. Going to prison at age 17 because of a first degree robbery.
When Fred got out of prison, he did not stay out long because on the Friday that he got out, he said “some of my friends threw a party for me and we were drinking and smoking marijuana.” On Monday when I had to meet with my parole officer, the parole office asked me if I was clean and I said “Yes”, but the urine sample would prove something different. He said his mother was really hurt to see him go back to prison.
One thing Fred is proud of today, is that he has four children. None of them have been to prison and this just brings the largest smile to his face. Things really began to change for Fred in about 2017.
In 2017 Fred was shot, in the struggle he was able to keep from being hit in any vital organs, but he was shot in the leg which caused him to have that leg amputated. He was in the hospital for 30 days, seven of those days were in ICU and at that time he was also on dialysis.
He too had a dream, although a bit different than Dr King’s dream. His dream was that he saw an eagle in the sky and he said that when he woke up one of the first things he said was “I want to be a board member”, and at that time, he was not even sure what a board member was.
He was very depressed, waking up and seeing that he had lost a leg. His ex-finace tried to encourage him by asking him to meet with one of her co-workers named Jackie. It took a while of convincing before he finally met with Jackie, for you see he was in such a dark place struggling with depression.
The first time he met with Jackie things began to change. Jackie, who was also an amputee, was a member of a group called Severe Survivor Amputee Support Group.
After meeting with her and this group of people he began to feel good about himself. He began to feel loved. They began to visit nursing homes, Morrell said, “for the first time I felt like I was a good person for the first time in my life.”
One day he woke up and said he wanted to stop drinking so he went to detox for seven days. Morrell said, “this was the first time that I had really listened to someone’s advice in my 48 years of living.”
Today, he says that he is grateful that his father brought him here and he is referring to his Heavenly Father. Morrel says, “I have to stay humble, if I begin to get cocky I know that this will not work”.
Once coming to Abilene, Morrel looked for a support group but he could not find one. He reached out to Stephanie who was over the support group that he was previously a member of and she gave him encouragement to start a group. So, he started a group and he calls it Soar Like an Eagle Support Group.
This group operates under the banner of Disabilities and Action, so he now believes that that eagle he saw in his dream and waking up saying that he wanted to be a board member was preparing him to start this group, Soar Like an Eagle.
Morrel says that his mentor, the Rev. Andrew Penns, has been a big help to him in drawing up his business plan and encouraging him and making him one of the board members of I-CAN.
Morrel is moving forward, not backwards. He works at Goodwill part-time, he volunteers at Salvation Army and his goal is to give back and not take away. I asked him, what could he tell somebody, a young person, that may be struggling and have some of the same issues that he had. He said he would encourage them. He said in spite of everything that he went through in foster care he knew that there was a better way and that there was someone that would love him unconditionally. He also says “Hold on, don’t give up, there will be someone who will become part of your life and will show you genuine love” and lastly he states, “You can have anything your heart desires”.
The Soar Like an Eagle Amputee Support Group meets the third Thursday of each month from 2-3 pm. Transportation is available through Disability in Action, 325-672-5460 ext. 33.
Fred can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.