“I Remember the Scream”….Albert Kohut,1915-1989

"Early Autumn Dusk" Oil, janekohut-bartels, 2007

“Early Autumn Dusk” Oil, janekohut-bartels, 2007


He was my father, a talented, complex and troubled man.  The parent that truly loved me, his first child and only daughter.  Today his birthday and I miss him. He was a man of gentle humor, soft spoken and deeply loved by those who knew him.  It took me years to understand him, but I cling to the memories and the lessons he so quietly gave.  He died too young.

A true story:  Plump Nancy Madsen sat on me during her 10th birthday party.  I couldn’t breathe and bit her in the back. (Her dog, Freckles, a dalmation, has bitten me over the left eye a few years before, so I thought this was fair play. I still carry the scar after 6 decades)  Of course, whiney Nancy screamed and started to cry and her mother was furious.  (Her mother, Mabel, didn’t like me or my mother, probably me because of Freckles, and probably my mother for lots of  reasons…).  My father ordered me to go to the car. (We were close neighbors and I could have walked home.)  Of course I was crying, afraid of what my father (more so my mother) would do because of my biting fat Nancy, but when he came to the car, he started to chuckle:  “Let’s not tell your mother about this, and let’s go get some Breyer’s ice cream.” 

I never forgot this kindness of my father.  That was the way he was.

Lady Nyo



I Remember….


I remember the scream

In the middle of the night

Of something dying

Down by the river,

Killed by an owl

Or possibly a fox.


I remember bolting awake

In my parent’s bed,

My heart in my throat

My father just died

The funeral over

Sleeping in

His bed,

Afraid to move from this reality

To the next,

No comfort to be had

Even with the scent of

His tobacco in the sheets.


I wandered the house,

Touched the walls,

Looked through windows

To a landscape not

Changed over years,

Ran my hands down the

Black walnut banister,

Smooth, smooth

As if the days would turn back

Just by this touch

And he would be here.


That scream somewhere on the banks

In the middle of the night,

When I jerked from sleep to

Awake, knowing, he was dead-

The father who loved me

Was gone forever.

I knew then

I was unmoored from life

floating out of reach of love.


A scream that challenged dreams

He would come back,

He wasn’t awaiting the fire

He would wake up,

Much as I did,

In a cold-sweat fear

And slowly, slowly

resume his place in the living.


There are unseen things

That happen in the night,

Down on the river bank,

Where life is challenged by death

Where a rabbit screams his mighty last

Where the heart leaps to the throat,

Where the most we can hope

Is a silent ghost

Who walks out of the river’s fog,

Extends his arms

And embraces the sorrowing.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

from “Pitcher of Moon”


My new book, “Pitcher of Moon” is available from Amazon.
 Paperback: http://goo.gl/RzFRj4
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8 Responses to ““I Remember the Scream”….Albert Kohut,1915-1989”

  1. TR Says:

    Hugs. Beautiful poem. A wonderful tribute to a kind man. Thank you for sharing the story about Nancy. xx


  2. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! thank YOU for reading it. He was a wonderful man, considering all the issues surrounding him and I. You know…the maternal narcissism issue. Nancy….LOL! She moved to Rex, Georgia from our little country area in NJ….years ago…and she wrote once, and actually was exactly the same snotty brat at 50 something that she was at 10. Never heard from her again. LOL! She was a year older, and a bully, b ut there was no other girls my age out there in the countryside. My mother and her mother hated each other, but this was so common then.

    Hugs, Jane


  3. TR Says:

    OMG, that story with Nancy and her mom and your mom sound like mine growing up. I often wonder if my mother didn’t like my friend’s mothers/families because she didn’t want me to have friends. I had read a similar story years ago on a blog. The NM doesn’t usually want her daughter’s to have friends.


  4. ladynyo Says:

    I think you are right. The competition between the NM and the daughter is always there….though mostly in the mind of the NM. I don’t think we had a name for what my mother, (and other mothers) were displaying back then: narcissism wasn’t hugely known even to the therapists. But we daughters certainly suffered from their behavior. And about friends? Consider what real friends the narcissists had: mostly in passing and those who didn’t stick around. Or were in competition with the NMs because they themselves were narcissists.

    I also think that in later life for ACONs it is very hard to discern true friendship or even to keep friends. People who had ‘normal’ upbringings and normal (or good enough parents) just can’t believe what ACONs went through. So they either shy away or perhaps our revealment of our own childhoods evokes discomfort in them…because they possibly had some of the same issues, but have buried them deeply…

    Also, this crap on FB? All these ‘friends’??? These aren’t friends….and in most cases, they aren’t even acquaintances. I think it’s like LindkedIN: people I have never heard of or have heard of me want to ‘link up’. For what reasons? Job searches? What? I find that lately I am getting a lot of requests for this, yet it’s more ‘padding’…not substance. Another issue, though…and many people feel ‘fulfilled’ on FB. It feels empty to me. My relatives on my husband’s side don’t answer phone calls except once a year at Xmas, they don’t write letters, and they don’t email….but they have 500plus friends on FB. yeah, i don’t believe it for a moment. Having friends takes time and effort, and you have to attend to their lives with compassion and sincerity. And that is why most of us have time for only a few friends and that is ‘real’.


  5. TR Says:

    That is so relevant – trying to discern true friends or even keep friends. Man, this has been probably my greatest struggle today. That last paragraph is what I feel a lot of FB. I do feel empty with the majority of people I am connected to. There is a part of FB I like where I can connect with friends abroad but FB is only good with the ones where there is substance. It seems the interaction works via FB and keeping in contact because there is substance to the relationship. Friendships do take time and it can’t be done with a click of a button. xx


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hi TR! I sat down to write you an email,, and saw this first. I think that is a great issue for many of us today: making and maintaining friends. That is why I concentrate on people like CS, CZ and you. We have shared issues and we don’t have to continually explain our childhoods….and our doubts about now and what functions as ‘normal’.

    Of course, you know what I wwent through here with the smart asses…or psycho asses. And these were people I could reach out and touch. I had NOTHING in common with them: and in trying to for a couple of years, I just…well, it was a situation that I realized there was really nothing there: they were druggies, sociopaths, etc. And the women were high school bullies at middle age. And of course, they also attracted opportunists if they weren’t themselves such. It was a losing situation, and of course we want people that we can share our talents and accomplishments and want to respect and admire theirs. So, these online groups, etc….are usually deadends, unless they are formed around mutual issues, and usually they are issues we are struggling over. FB is dead in the water for me: I post my blog entry automatically, and only a few ‘like’. It seems that no one has the culture or courage here in Atlanta to post a comment. So, my blog (as does yours) does very well outside of FB, Twitter, etc.

    If you feel empty with the majority of people you are connected to, there is a reason. Even with relatives, it is nothing of substance. They just post their activities and ignore others except where they dovetail into their own religious crap or such. And they are always chiding about this above. My interests are broader, as are yours.

    And I think this issue comes down to this: we both are writers, impassioned in what we write and all the issues around what we write. We are constantly reading, researching and writing. We are continuing to learn and to delve deeply into these pithy subjects, and we produce, produce, produce. The vast majority of people (and especially women in my estimation) don’t do this: they float around in life, always bitchin’ but they don’t make much of their lives. Look at the brilliance of CZ, CS, Kara, etc. They WORK at it. And yes, everyone of us have self-doubts, etc. and this is very normal considering our backgrounds. But we aren’t making excuses, we are trying to seriously solve serious problems. And we aren’t VICTIMS. That is what I found with so many of the Not-So-Smart Asses. They were victims of their own bullshit, yet they didn’t want to claim it and change it. They were constantly angry and some hysterical.

    Both of us know that this isn’t ‘friendship-material’. It’s a dead end, so we have to really investigate and choose wisely…for ourselves. I have made so many mistakes on this issue, and it was all bound up in issues I had to work through. And what I think is this: we have to come to a place where we respect what we do and are, and not lower our standards for anything like friendship, which might turn out to bite us in the ass. This discernment is a part of maturity and we either can work towards this or remain miserable.

    Being alone isn’t a death-sentence. Having a few friends, whether they are on the internet or in your neighborhood, is fine. But when these ‘friends’ don’t mesh with what we are doing in life, when they don’t support and help our self-confidence, they are dead weight. Our main task as I see it here on Earth, is to find and develop the talents, the creativity we have inside. Haven’t we had enough of people, family and so-called ‘friends’ who have stood in opposition to our progress? I certainly have. And I know you have, too.



  7. TR Says:

    Hi Jane,
    It has been an up and down journey with friends since understanding more of my FOO and the dysfunctionality. It was so weird because after this discussion an old friend starting texting on Facebook all of a sudden. We were good friends at university and then after graduation didn’t keep that much in touch but reconnected on FB. We had a few chats when I first joined FB. And then all of sudden after a few years here she is chatting.

    Discerning who we have real connection with and those that are more superficial is a learning step. I think when us bloggers share some of our examples we begin to learn from each other what ‘games’ are played – some even look, sound, smell, healthy. I know from you and the bloggers you mention their examples have helped me evaluate situations like the FB chat I had last night a lot differently. Growing up dysfunctional lacked lessons on this discernment. xxTR


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Hi TR! I can’t agree with you more! Growing up in dysfunctional families makes discernment take a back burner for so many reasons and years. Only when we can disconnect, from many sources, ways, can we begin to understand the value of discernment. It’s a learning curve indeed. And it can be very painful and we make countless mistakes in the learning. I know that I did.

    Just a few years ago, a man from my childhood made contact with me after 40 years. I was delighted because he was my first boyfriend in high school. Little did I know that he was what would be considered a ‘run-around’. He was married for over 30 years and had grown children, but he couldn’t keep it in his pants. Affair after affair. I couldn’t understand what drove this man, because this was not the man I knew from hs. LOL! Of course, there are many factors, but I think with some people, and some men…they are just spoiled brats and very shallow. They might not look like narcissists on the surface, but their actions betray or reveal them as narcissists. They follow the same patterns as the family narcissists that we well know: Use and discard. His wife must have hated him for all the affairs, but was sticking around for the money. There was little else when you dug deeper in this fool. I don’t think he would ever change his behavior, even with therapy, because under it all, as with all narcissists….is deep self-hatred…and enough to spread around. There is a distinct lack of respect, a contempt and disdain in these people. And until they go into therapy for a long time, they continue their destructive behavior. But we already know that narcissists never do go into therapy…or if they do, they don’t think the problems are with them. It’s the rest of the world. His attitude towards women was especially misognyist, though it took a while to understand what was going on. He destroyed a lot of friendships. I was lucky to have escaped any involvement but there was a lot of sadness for this destroyed friendship.

    I should have realized from the first few phone calls and emails that this man was seriously flawed. I should have shown better discernment, especially after he started telling me about his affairs. But discernment wasn’t something that I had developed, especially in these cases, and I was hoping that we could actually have resumed our long-ago friendship. Nothing sexual then, and certainly not now, but I was deceiving myself. Again, lack of discernment and the importance of it front and center.

    Yep, games indeed…and we fall to the folly.

    Hugs, Jane


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