Me, A Racist? You’ve Got To Be Kidding!

Letter date – Aug 29th, 2016

Hello mom,

From reading your letter it looks like your hands have been full. You do so much on the computer and I have never messed around on it.  Of course, it was never like it is now. Back in the 90’s we had a computer but we didn’t have internet.

time-cover

I was just reading the new issue of Time magazine you got for me. On the cover was little furry monster with horns, a big grin and a laptop on his lap.  the article speaks about all different websites, what they are used for and so on.  However, the main topic was about the hate in the internet world. It’s everywhere and it’s crazy.  I thought about what you said about me being called a racist and that is why I had no visitors.  Someone had spread rumors about me to people and maybe that is why nobody wants anything to do with me. Could this be the excuse I get now when there is still no visit? Like you, even though I know I can’t change anything with my family I can’t help but still think about it.  it seems as thought there should be a reason I could understand. Maybe I don’t agree with what is said but I don’t have any way to prove that it is not the way I am.

Being accused of being a racist when you know you have never said anything that could be taken as a racist remark makes me very angry. I have no way to defend myself. I can be accused of anything and those stories can be spread. People will believe these stories I am not this young immature man anymore. I am a man who has been through a lot these past ten years.  I have had to take responsibility for my actions and also take responsibility for things I didn’t do and was accused of doing, but I will be damned if I am going to take responsibility for being a racist.

It’s bad enough to be in here in the first place with other “charges” being added to my time.

***************

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Unexpected Vacations are The Best Kind

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 I just couldn’t resist! My daughter sent me new pictures of my grandkids and this was taken just the other day of Jamie’s son Jamie who will be 10 mid July.It will be 3 years this October since – our I –  have seen my grandchildren. He has grown so much. They all have. My oldest grandson is going into the Marines. He’s excited but I’m scared crazy. He doesn’t understand war. He bought the “defend America’s democracy” propaganda hook line and sinker not understanding that corporate profit and resource control is why we are in perpetual war.

I love the great picture apps there are to make the one I have here. I’ve been making great albums of mostly all old time photos. Ill print this one out and send it to Jamie to put on his wall.

I’ll be leaving on Wed. I’m taking my first long distance Greybound bus trip instead of a plane to go to Tx. I’ve had friends who looked at me in horror at the thought, but I’m looking forward to it. Kick back, plug in my Nook, blog, watch movies and work on my book. Sounds relaxing to me. Security is beefed up to a two hour wait at airports, driving to DC in a 5 hour round trip rush hour traffic nightmare and other stressful things.

In addition to seeing grandkids in Tx and going to see Jamie at the prison, and then driving across hell and seeing more grandkids in NM, collecting fresh eggs in the morning and picking fresh vegetables for dinner from their wonderful garden and feeding the rabbits, then I will be RVing with friends to Carlsbad Caverns, planning for gold in Prescott, Az and going to the Grand Canyon, taking some well earned time to go have fun. I haven’t had a “vacation” in awhile. Ill be gone at least 5 weeks. Some of that time I’ll not be near wifi hook up or having too much fun to type. But Ill take lots of pictures to share pictures.

 

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The Value Of a Prison Letter

        Jamie sent hundreds of letters during his incarceration, explaining the wounded grief he lives with on a daily basis, because of the separation from his family. He is a parent who has never had the chance to touch his ten year old son.  That is a pain too hard for me to imagine. I have children.   If I could see them, but was unable to reach through the glass and hold them even one time in their lives it would break me. He has a right to his grief.

       If he doesn’t learn how to deal with that, what kind of man will be walking out the door when his sentence is over? Will he be angry at life, still uneducated, inexperienced about everything, low self esteem, and with no way to understand how to put his life back together because his family hasn’t cared enough to even answer his letters? How could he trust them to be there for him? Alone, what do you think his chances of survival will be?  Everything happens for a reason. This is why I came into his life.

       The first letter I have listed here was sent June 1, 2009, three years into his sentence. His son was two and a half. We had been writing for about a year by then. Morgan took the kids to see him. It wasn’t an easy trip for her to make because it was about fifteen hours of driving across the state of Texas, which is like driving through hell. The sight of an occasional billboard is the only thing to remind you there is civilization somewhere beyond the horizon. It is hot and humid. Driving through that with a full carload of bored children would test the patience of anyone. After an emotional visit there is another fifteen hour drive back, with many stops the kids needed for food and bathroom breaks. Jamie’s mother went with them to help with the kids. Jamie had seen his son only one time before this when he was a baby, still in a carrier. This was also the last time he saw his mother for more than five years

       I don’t think I received a happier letter than this one. On this visit, he could see his son running around. That vision carried him through many bleak days and lonely nights when he only had himself to talk to. This was one of five times he saw him in ten years, as of 2016, and at each visit there was plexiglass between them. The craving to hold his son made his punishment complete.  Even so, this visit created a memory he has relived a thousand times. It was also the last time he saw his son until 2013. This separation caused him to feel so much guilt because he felt he had let his son down. He wasn’t there when he should have been. He had countless hours of time alone with nothing to do but think about this. These thoughts went around in his head on an endless loop.

       Frustration was high for Jamie because there was nothing he could do to change anything.   Being a parent from prison is almost impossible.  Morgan made it even more difficult for him because her communication slowed to a trickle. But there are two sides to every story. This was not about her deliberately making life hard for him. For her, it was about survival and trying to make a life for herself and four children, often working two jobs to support them. She married and had another child. She was exhausted all the time because she rarely had a day off. Eventually, as time went by she went on with her life. Jamie couldn’t go on with his, and he became bitter and angry. He couldn’t understand why she couldn’t or wouldn’t bring his son to see him. Seeing his son has been the only thing that mattered to him.  It should have happened, but it couldn’t happen. Life got in the way.

       It just wasn’t his son he wanted to see. He wanted to see his family, but after the initial time after his incarceration, his family didn’t seem to care enough to be there for him. Since it was rare to get a visit what else could he think? He felt forgotten. Letters were never answered. No one helped him get the basic things he needed the prison doesn’t supply.  No one would help pay the medical fee each year so he could call for a nurse when he had a seizure.  These things aren’t free.  Many inmates don’t have the money to pay that fee, so when they are sick, they have to be dying to maybe get help. Because of Jamie having epilepsy he needed to be able to make that call.  Even I asked his family for help, but I ended up paying it myself.  It was hard for him to see it any other way than what it was. He was alone and was on his own. All he had was me.

       Morgan had to prioritize what was important so she could take care of her children. She didn’t stop writing to Jamie because she stopped caring that he was the father of their son. She stopped because of the emotional overload dealing with it. She couldn’t be responsible for Jamie’s happiness while working seventy hours a week taking care of the needs of her children. Was it right or wrong? It is not for anyone else to judge. It is only unfortunate that sometimes our decisions end up hurting other people. It will be up to both of them at a later date, after he is released from prison, to see what puzzle pieces still fit together so they can both be parents to their son.

AN INMATE ONLY HAS MEMORIES

June 1, 2009

Hello mom,
How are you? Fine I hope. As for me I am as happy as can be. Thanks to you I was able to see my wife and kids. (Sonni’s note: He and Morgan were not married, but they did fill out a common law marriage form that never got filed, so in his mind he considered her to be his wife and she identified herself to any prison official as being his wife so they would talk to her.)

       Thank you. I love you so much for helping to make this happen. We had fun. We talked and laughed and shared our love with one another. Me and the kids talked a lot. They were just as happy to see me as Morgan, I think. We talked about how they were doing in school, and about the things they were going to do for the summer. I really enjoyed talking to them. It was like spending time with them at home. Me and Jamie had fun talking to each other, too. He’s a real good talker. Ha ha. That boy can run, too. He’s short, but fast. If there is one thing I know he loves, it’s money! Every few minutes he wanted to go to the machines. He also knows right from wrong. He kept running off but when he saw me get up and look at him he came right back every time. My little one, my son, he is the most cute boy. Me and him, we tried to talk. (smile)

       Me and my mom talked a while and then Morgan and I spent the last hour talking, sharing our love for one another. I love her so much and my heart goes out to her. She is the best thing to ever happen to me. She is the most beautiful woman I ever met and she has the most beautiful voice! Without her and the kids there is no ‘me’. That is why I’m staying out of trouble and staying to myself so I can try to make my first parole (it didn’t happen). I want to be with my family so bad. Seeing them was so wonderful.

Two days later . . .

       So how’s things in the Keys? Alyssa said she was ready to come visit. I told her to have fun. She said she couldn’t wait to help out at the store. Thank you again for all your help. I love you always.

       I sit here and replay the visit with my family over and over. It was so wonderful. I loved every second of it. Morgan’s daughter got mad and said she was going to sue these people! She said it wasn’t right that we couldn’t have a contact visit, and had to  have plexi-glass between us.

      She is a very smart young lady. She told me she wants to be a doctor. I told her to stay positive and do good in school and she can do anything she sets her mind on doing. Alex told me I look different. I told him it’s because I have glasses. I didn’t wear them when I was at home. We talked about him going to visit his dad. I think it’s good Morgan is giving him a chance to spend time with him. I feel that every man or woman should be given a second chance unless they don’t want to live the right path. I think it’s good she’s giving his dad another chance to get to know him. Maybe they will build a better father-son relationship. I pray they will get along okay.

       So, how are you mom, really? How is Mike doing? I can’t wait to come home so I can come and visit with you, mom. Maybe I could even help around the house or the store you have in Key West. Morgan wants to go on a cruise, but I’m scared of boats. I’ve never been on one, either. I’ve been on a plane, though. To tell the truth I’ve never been outside Texas. So that is something I want to do with my family. Explore different states and sights. It would be fun I think. It would be fun to be a truck driver but I doubt that could happen with my epilepsy. I would love to drive all over the country.

Well, mom, I’ve got to go.
I love you, your son-in-law.

IN PRISON STILL WAITING FOR MY FAMILY TO CARE

April 1, 2011

Dear mom,
April fool’s day! Except I think it’s been me who has been the fool. But I pray that you’re okay, as well as Morgan and the kids. Things have been real scary the past few weeks. I’ve been through a lot. It’s been hard because I feel as though everyone has given up on me. No one writes to check on me, or even to say hi. I’ve lost faith in them and myself as well. I have been so down.

       I’ve been getting into trouble. I feel there’s no reason to try anymore. I feel this way because I don’t even know how my little Jamie is doing. The way things are going I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to see or hear from him again. It hurts me to sit and think like this, but as time passes and I don’t hear anything, the worst comes to mind.

       I’ve sat in my cell and cried so many times because my heart is telling me I’m losing him. Also, because the thought of my family giving up on me is really hard to take. I guess it was just a matter of time, really, to tell the truth. I don’t plan on making it home. It’s hard to not look for the worst of things in here. Lord knows, I want to make it home to everyone, but why go back to a place where no one loves or cares about you. Then I just know little Jamie will hate me for not being there for him. I felt the same way about my dad. It’s really going to hurt me to have my only child hate me.

       But how are you? Is everything okay? I thought I would give you some time before I wrote again. I know you must be tired and have other things you’d like to do. However, as long as you are blessed and okay, then I am okay as well. How is Morgan? Tell her I miss her and I really would like to hear from her. Well, I’m out of time. I hope I hear from you real soon. Love you. Tell Morgan and the kids I love them. Would you ask her if she would call my brother and see if he can send some money for hygiene products please.

Love, Son.

PRISON SENTENCES ARE JUST AS LONG FOR THE CHILDREN

July 2012

Dear mom,

       I’m just lonely and it hurts. I miss everyone so much. It seems as if no one cares at all how I’m doing. It’s so hard not to think about it. It bothers me that the woman I care so much for isn’t worried about my health or well being. No one stays in touch with me at all. It hurts that Morgan is treating me as if I’m not Jamie’s dad. What I mean is, she don’t tell me anything about how he’s doing. Everything I know comes from you. I’m very thankful for that. I would love to hear from Morgan once or twice a month. What’s so hard about that? I get mad and try to write to let her know I’m mad but I end up throwing the letter away. I tell myself it’s all my fault I’m here. Then again, it’s no reason for her to not stay in touch. If not for her then for the kids. I do love them and miss them so much.

       It hurts so much not being there for Jamie. I’ve missed out on so much. I’m trying. I’m staying clear of trouble. I come up for parole on July 27, 2014. That’s one reason why I try to stay in touch with everyone. If these people decided to give me parole and they can’t get in touch with nobody I will have to wait for them to find me a half way house. I’m being treated like an unknown person by them.

       So, if it stays like this, why should I try? My son is young and he has dyslexia. It’s hard for him to write. But still, Megan could give him some paper and let him color a picture for me. EVERY little thing touches my heart. I miss him so much. I sit here trying to read and my mind wanders thinking of everyone, from the night me and Morgan met, even to the day I met her dad, to the day I first met my son. That was the most wonderful moment in my life.

       Please talk to Morgan for me. Ask her what’s wrong. Why don’t she write to me? Tell her all she has to do is let me know. I can’t put up too much of an argument here. I just want the truth, that’s all. I’m going to close this letter. Take it easy, okay? Take one day at a time. The pain will be over soon and things will be just as beautiful as before. I love you mom.

THE VALUE OF A LETTER

June 17, 2014

Dear mom,
You know that mail and visits are the two things everyone looks forward to when you are locked up. It’s all we have when it comes to friends and family. I’ve heard a lot of dudes who are getting ready to go home say they had nowhere to go. What are they supposed to do when there is no one in their life to encourage them. You said you wrote to that dude on death row, and I bet he was so glad to hear from you. What happens is sometimes someone will get a letter from a penpal site and they are so glad because they think they finally have someone to write to. So they write long letters hoping the person who wrote to them will be interested enough to keep writing. He might not have anyone else to write to, so he hopes he says the right thing, hoping you’ll write back. When you sit alone in a cell all day all you can do is think about your life and now he has a chance to tell someone how he feels. People on the outside don’t understand how important that one letter can be to someone who doesn’t have anyone to care about them and hope they are okay. It can make all the difference in the world to that person.

       All these years, all I had was you. How would my time here be if you hadn’t cared. It was rare to get a letter from anyone, and even when I did, it was a catch up on what was happening with everyone, not about how I was doing. I would write back, but I usually ended up throwing them away because I would get too emotional. They don’t want to hear how I feel about things. I do appreciate, though, when someone takes the time to write. But you are the only one I open up to about things. It’s hard for me to do that, but it’s also important to be able to get it out.

       It hurts when I have to find the words to explain how much I fucked up my life, and now my son’s. But I am determined to change these things. You’ve given me the hope I can do it. You’ve taught me that I am a valuable person. I also want to be the man my mother wanted me to be. She did the best she could. I let her down. I want her to be proud of me. And I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you have done for me.
I am determined to have a better life. I know what kind of person I am. I know what I feel inside. Right now I feel the misery of losing a loved one. Everyone can have the determination to change. It is up to them to decide when the time is right.

I LOVE YOU ALWAYS, DADDY

August 4, 2014

       This is a letter Jamie wrote after his son’s eighth birthday. He included a letter he wanted me to send to his son.

Hello mom,
I sit and think a lot. I sit and think about how life will be when I get home, wherever that is. A lot of this has been frustrating. Father’s day was real hurtful for me. It was on a weekend. I didn’t hear from or see Morgan with Jamie, or from anyone else, either. I was hoping that since it was a weekend that she’d bring my son. Oh well, it wasn’t a surprise to me. And now Jamie just had his birthday. Eight years old. It hurts like hell that I didn’t get to see him on his birthday. I’m having something made for him. I spent everything I had left to get it done. It’s still not finished. Would you call him please and tell him I did not forget him? Tell him I love him and happy birthday. I wrote him a letter would you send it to him? I sold my food to get a stamp to send this letter to you.

Jamie’s letter to his son –

       Guess who? Yes, it’s me, Daddy. First I want to say I’m sorry this is so late. I have never forgotten about you. Nor did I forget about your birthday. I’m getting something made for you. You will like it when you see it. I love you Jamie. I will always love you.

       So happy birthday from a father to his son. I will always love you no matter what. Life is hard but we’re blessed to have it. We’re blessed to have each other. Strong faith will always keep us together. Even if I’m not home, believe, my love is so strong!! No one can break our chain of love we have for each other and that I have for you. I know it hurts, me not being home, but know that I think about you all the time. I didn’t forget your birthday and never will.

       What did you do for your birthday? I hope you had lots of fun!! If I was there we would have lots of stuff to do together. Movies, swimming, basketball, football, fishing. Lots of stuff. I couldn’t be there with you because of a poor choice I made a long time ago and I’m sorry. Making a poor choice will hurt your life, son. So be sure to live life in a positive way. Stay away from trouble, drugs and stupidity. Nobody means you any good if they are trying to get you to do wrong. Stay in school and pay good attention. Work hard for what you want. I did not do that and that is why I’m in jail. Listen to me son, nothing is worse than having your freedom taken away. Please stay away from trouble. Pay close attention to your education.

I love you always, Daddy

A PRISON CELL IS THE LONELIEST PLACE TO BE

November 12, 2014

       It’s okay. Don’t worry about me. I tell myself, don’t be discouraged. That is only downing myself. Always keep your confidence and you will succeed. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I don’t want anyone to feel as though I’m begging or even asking too much. I’m sorry. Please, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. This is what I get for breaking the law. Please, I just need help seeing my son. That’s all. I want nothing else. And I will chant for you, too, I promise I will.

       I ask myself over and over, why won’t Morgan come and bring my son? I do deserve to see my son. He is all I have. However, Morgan, I guess, feels different. Maybe I should try to get moved to another unit. I would probably have to get in trouble, though, to do that. That wouldn’t be good. But if I was moved farther away from home, then everyone would be able to use excuses like, “It’s too far away” or “I can’t afford the gas”. Then it would be easier for them to let themselves off the hook. Maybe Morgan just wants to keep me from him. I hate to think that, but it’s hard not to.

       If I knew people cared as they say they do, it would be a lot easier on me. Without you, I would know nothing. Morgan has kept me blind for so long on how little Jamie is doing. That hurts like hell! Why? Why would she want to hurt me like that? Oh, forget I asked that question. There have been many times I have wanted to give up. There are lots of people with lots on their plate and they still manage to find the time and come to see the person they say they love. Life is full of unanswered questions.

       I’ve written letters to my mother. A lot of the time I get them back. She moves around a lot. The last address I got was my grandmother’s. She came to visit me last year. First time in at about five years. It’s not her fault, though. I was in a couple prisons that were too far away. They were clear across Texas. It was too far to make it there and back in a day. A few days maybe. I’m closer now so maybe I’ll get to see her more often. She said she was going to come visit me more often. I told her twice a month would be great. I waited and waited, hoping each weekend that she’d come. Five months went by. She never came back until a couple weeks ago. I was really glad to see her.

       It would be good if I could get Morgan to take Jamie to my mom’s house and then she could bring Jamie. Then we could take some pictures together. But they aren’t getting along too good right now. The person who misses out the most is Jamie. He needs all of his family. I’m just asking a favor for me and my son. I wish I could see my grandmother, too. Maybe she could come with my mom sometime if she’s well enough. Oh, I guess that’s enough about all of this. It gets me depressed just thinking about.

PRISON VISIT – ONE YEAR UPDATE

Feb 4, 2015

Dear Mom,
It’s really cold. I think it maybe snowed but I can’t tell for sure because I can’t see out a window anymore. I never get any sun at all. In my last cell there was a window and I could see outside. I would pretend I was out there. If you’ve never been locked up you wouldn’t know how it feels to have no control over anything you do. You can’t make anything change. There is so much space in my head. I try hard to fill it up with things, but sooner or later I give up and go to sleep.

       Some years back, before you got sick, you wrote and told me to imagine we were outside riding bikes and we would ride to the top of a hill, meet there, and have a picnic. We could do that together at the same time. It would be a way for me to escape in my head. It was really the first time we talked about how powerful the mind is and how important it is to have hope. You told me over and over how important my life is. I don’t understand what you saw in me, but I’m glad you did. It’s like my family washed their hands of me. It wasn’t important to let me know they still loved me. It was like I died or something. You kept me from disappearing, or at the least so I wouldn’t become like so many people in here who have no hope. This place has a way of making you feel really small and you took hold of me and taught me how to keep it together.

       I’ve been thinking about my son a lot. I was so happy to see him in October (2013) when Morgan came. I wanted to see him so bad. He’s all I have. He’s the only thing I have that makes life worth living. He’s the only real thing that proves I lived. I don’t think Morgan really understands how important he is to me. The thought of him keeps me trying. I didn’t want to feel sure she would really bring him to see me. I didn’t even know for sure if they were coming. You told me she was trying to make sure she would make it. Morgan kept saying she would but something always got in the way. Really, I about gave up because the disappointment was too hard to bear. She said she’d come before and then couldn’t. But this time, when the officer came to my cell and told me I had visitors, well all I can say is that this big feeling of happiness came over me and I smiled so big. I was finally going to see my son. She had her two other sons with her, too.

       Before that day, it was hard knowing he was out there and I couldn’t see him. I wondered if he was going to be angry with me for not being there when he was growing up. Maybe he would be ashamed for anyone to know his dad was in prison. I’m so sorry I can’t be there for him right now. I know I can’t expect Morgan to stay by herself till I get out. She’ll have another man in her life but it would rip me up if my son called some other man, dad. Or if some man tried to come between me and my son.

       I’m missing all of these years with him I can never get back. When I saw him he was really shy. It was hard to get him to talk to me. I can’t blame him for that. He was probably scared. He was hardly more than a baby the last time he saw me. I want so badly to be able to give him a hug and tell him how much I love him. More than anything he is the one thing in my life that gives me the reason to want to get out of here and have a good life. I want to be a good father. Having him is the only thing I have done right. He’s the only good thing I have.

       Morgan doesn’t write to me very often. I’ve begged her so many times. I think she would if she really wanted to. Instead of telling me the truth she gives me all of these excuses like she wrote a bunch of letters but her boyfriend or whoever found them and threw them away every single time she wrote one. It was one excuse after the other. I think if someone wanted to write a letter they would find a way to get it into the mailbox without getting caught. She shouldn’t need to sneak. Nothing anyone can do will make me not exist. I will always be his father. She should be able to write a letter and tell me about my boy without getting into trouble. So that doesn’t make sense.

       Why doesn’t she hardly send me any pictures? Sometimes I get out all the pictures I have and I go over them one by one and think of all the memories I have. I just stare at them and make them part of my day and pretend I am in the picture instead of being here.

THERE IS NO WAY TO BE A DAD IN PRISON

July 17, 2015

       Morgan is with another man. I accept that because he is little. But it isn’t the same as having your own dad. When she and I were together, her other kids accepted me, not just because I was with their mom, but because I loved her, and them. When I was young my dad wasn’t there, but I didn’t accept anyone else even though there were other men in my mom’s life. Do you see where I’m coming from?

        Some dads in here have a chance, but not many. Some want to be a dad and some don’t. I wish I knew more about how they are. I want Jamie to know that even though I can’t be there every day I love him so much. I hope his writing gets better so he can write to me, even if it is only a sentence or two. That would make me happy. But I can tell you, I could never accept my son bonding with another man. I’m his father, his only father.

       I should be able to see Jamie once or twice a month. What’s twice a month? Is that too much to ask? I have seen him so little. I want to be able to talk to him. I want him to see me. I want to tell him how important he is to me. I understand we have to get to know each other through letters, but the thing is, he’s only nine. You and I understand the rough road in life and we can explain things to each other in letters. Jamie can’t do that. But he is important, so I have to find a way to get through to him. I need to change things for him so he never goes through what I’m going through. I can start that by changing who I am. Change the karma. That will affect his life, too.

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Chapter List:
A Message From Someone Who Cares (forward)
First two chapters:
Everyday Dreams
Jamie’s Story

I have begun a newsletter on different aspects of the prison industry as well as updates on the progress of the book. I’m looking for a reasonable cost publishing house that can also include CD’s of the piano music found at http://soundcloud.com/sonni-quick, most of which was written for the book.Fill out the contact form to be put on the mailing list which will only go out monthly. (You won’t get bombarded like some businesses do!)

Texas Prison Heat With a “Chill Towel”

Texas heat
July 27, 2015

Hello Beautiful, I got your letter. I love the photo of you. Still looking good (smile) What did you do for your special day? I hope Mike took you out. Before I go on I want to say Happy Birthday!  (LOL) I hope you don’t think I forgot about your birthday on July 28th. I would never do that.  Again Happy Birthday.

YESTER DAYS. by Sonni Quick. copyright 2015

I got your letter from the 23rd. I also got a postcard from Jamie. What is going on that life is so crazy? I got the money you sent. Thank you. Sorry it took so long to write back. Is been crazy here as well. It is so damn hot! Sometimes I lay naked. The officers come through and tell me to put my underwear on. I tell them to hold on I’m not done cooking yet! (LOL) It is so hot I don’t want to move. It’s 96 degrees but it feels a lot hotter. I love the summer but this heat I can’t stand. Inmates die in this Texas heat

(Sonni’s note: I got two letters back to back so I combined this into one so you would know he has found some relief)

I just bought what they call a “chill towel”. It’s a sponge material that holds water and chills the air while it evaporates. It somewhat works. It’s half the length of my arm, maybe a little longer. It’s thick and light green. It cost $6.50. I wet it and let the fan blow on me. I’m not as hot as I used to be and that’s all that counts. It helps a lot.

I used to lay and sleep on the floor, but now I can’t. There are roaches everywhere. These little suckers move like they have jet fuel up their ass. They move really fast. This cell is just temporary. I can’t wait until I move out of it to a different ad seg unit.

I got a letter from my little brother Lionel a few weeks ago. It’s been years since I heard from him. I wrote him back. He said he was going to send pictures of the family. I made it clear to him not to say he was going to do something and then not do it. It was really good to hear from him and see how he was holding up after his dad died.

So how are the veggies doing in your garden? Everything going well with your piano students? How is your mom? Tell her I said hello, okay? It sure would be good to get out of the house and move around. Going to see an old friend just might be a good thing thing for you.

I can’t wait until you come down to visit. You could bring Jamie. I haven’t seen my son in two years. Be sure to ask for a special visit. Because of the miles you would be traveling we can have a visit Saturday and Sunday like last time. If I don’t have a case on me then prison visits could be for four hours instead of the normal two.

Well, it’s six minutes to 8:00. It’s cooled down. It’s supposed to rain a little. I sure hope so. A program I like is fixin’ to come on the radio. I might catch a little rap music. Till next time.

LOVE YOU ALWAYS, SON
Later Gator

(Sonni’s note: It was good to hear him in a better mood, just chatting. Things have been rough lately)

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Sonni Quick piano music complete list

There Is No Way To Be A Dad In Prison

Jamie Cummings jr
Jamie jr age 9

(Sonni’s note: Today, July 2015, little Jamie has dyslexia and is making it hard for him in school. It’s easy for other kids to think he’s stupid because he can’t read but he’s actually very bright – if you read the question to him. He finished third grade and needs to repeat it because to be able to go into fourth grade he has to be able to read the question the math question. I don’t know that holding him back. A year solves anything. Reading other subjects will just continue to get harder. He has qualified for a teachers aide, but it doesn’t change the fact he has dyslexia. Jamie, the dad, feels helpless not being able to be there to help)

April 4th, 2014

It seems he’s got a bad case of it. He’s having a hard time learning how to read and make his letters. Megan has it, too, but nobody knew it when she was young. They never picked up on it. They found out when she went to college and then they had to give her textbooks on CD’s and gave her tests orally. She still has a problem with numbers and letters. But it seems like Jamie’s is worse because they noticed when he was only in the first grade because he had trouble making the letters in his name. Megan had to take him through a lot of testing and appointments with the school to get him a tutor. Hopefully, with the extra attention he will get better. It’s been hard, though. You see, when you are a little boy and your dad is not around it hurts bad.

Even though Megan is with another man, he accepts that man because he is little. But it isn’t the same as having your own dad. When Megan and I were together, her other kids, Alex and Alyssa accepted me, not just because I was with Megan, but because I loved her, and them. When I was young my dad wasn’t there, but I didn’t accept anyone else even though there were other men in my mom’s life. Do you see where I’m going? Some dads have a chance, but not many. Some men try to be a dad and some don’t. Some don’t care about other men’s kids. They don’t feel any responsibility to them and they don’t love them. But I love all Megan’s kids. I think of all of them as mine. I wish I knew more about how they are doing. I want Jamie to know that even though I can’t be there every day I love him so much. I care how he is doing in school. I wish I could know more about how his school day is and what he is learning. I hope his writing gets better so he can write to me, even if it is only a sentence or two. That would make me happy. But I can tell you, I could never accept my son bonding with another man. I am his father, his only father.

I should be able to see Jamie once or twice a month. What’s twice a month? Is that too much to ask? I have seen him so little. I want to be able to talk to him. I want him to see me. I want to tell him how important he is to me. I understand we have to get to know each other through letters, but the thing is, he’s only seven. You and I understand the rough road in life and we can explain things in letters. Jamie can’t do that. But he is important so I have to find a way to get through to him. I need to change things for him so he never goes through what I’m going through. I can start that by changing who I am. Change the karma. That will affect his life, too.

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The Prison Laundry. My New Job!

washer4I got my G2! It’s a lot better than G4. I get to come out and watch TV all day. On the weekend I get to stay out until 1:00 am for late night. I work in the laundry now. It’s a good job. Everyone has different jobs in the laundry. Some work the washers and dryers and others press the clothes. There’s folders and janitors. I do everything but work the washers and dryers. It’s pretty cool. I love it mom!

I put in for GED classes. I might be put on the waiting list. I don’t know yet. I’m waiting to find out. There’s other classes I’m going to put in for as well, but I want to get used to my hours at work first. I work Thurs-Sat 12 midnight to 8:30 am. I’ve slept for the past three days. I almost passed out at work. I went to the folding tables and went to sleep. It’s hard when I’m not used to it. That’s from being stuck in the cell so long. I’ll get past it.

I got a xmas card from Jamie ( sent by Megan) and my brother. I want you to get a hold of my family. I worked hard to get a contact visit. Even though I like G2, If I can’t get to see my son there’s no need to be G2.

(Sonni’s note: There are more reasons to be G2. He is just so desperate to see his son and feels that it’s not unreasonable to think that someone would make the effort to bring his son to see him. They both need that.

Before Christmas I was contacted by an organization called Angel Ministries. They had my name, but no phone number or address. The were able to reach me and came to visit. They wanted to buy Christmas presents for his son, in his name. They wanted to know Jamie Jr.’s sizes and what he likes.jamie xmas2 2015 Later that week they brought over wrapped presents for me to send. I sent them in a box, separate from other presents I was sending my daughter’s family, with the prison address on the box so his son would think they really came from him. They did, in a way. Jamie just didn’t go out and buy them. When his son got the box and saw they were from his dad, he was excited. He has never been able to have his father in his life and keeping this connection alive is very important for both their sakes.jamies xmas2014 He, like all sons, needs his father in his life.I don’t want my grandson to end up being another statistic. I read that black boys have a 50% chance of having their father spend time in prison growing up. He’s already part of that statistic. I didn’t want him to suffer any more from that than he already has.

Jamie needs to be G2 to make phone calls and no one but me has registered their phone yet. We’ve had a few phone calls and it was so good to finally hear his voice after all these years. I had forgotten he has such a strong Texas twang! He probably doesn’t even know he has one. lol.

Still it took a couple phone calls to get out the, “It’s so good to hear your voice” remarks, and be able to settle into a conversation. It’s been a long time waiting, to be able to have these calls. They only have 20 minutes to talk and the time sure does go by too fast.)

I want you to have Megan get my family’s phone number. I really want to get a visit and have someone bring my son to me! I want to talk to my mother. I want to talk to her about a lot of things. If you have to lie and say I’m sick, if that is what it takes to get someone to visit, then it’s cool. It might be the only way to get someone down here. But if you talk to my mom, remember that she’s taken on a lot taking care of my sister’s kids and now my cousins kid’s, too.

Man, it is sooo cold here. What is so bad is that they turned off the heaters. Sorry about my writing. It’s because it’s so cold. It’s 12:40 am right now. I’m sure you’re probably up. You’re a night rider.

This sure has been a long ride up and down. You of all people has been by my side the whole way. I, James R. Cummings want to thank you for all your help, encouragement and love you have given me all these years. Without you I know I would have been lost in this system a long time ago. However, with your help and encouragement, I had fallen down and you helped me up. Thank you.hands

I’m going to end this letter for now. I love you. Love always, Son

(Sonni’s note: Jamie didn’t know I had already talked to his mother. She’s coming to see him on his birthday in a couple days!)

Melvin and Nichiren Buddhism

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I’m sitting just thinking about that wonderful breakfast of yours. I wish I was there, it sounds so good. Breakfast here is not one I look forward to. They serve pancakes at least four or five times a week, often with just a half spoon of peanut butter. Sometimes they have little sides of oatmeal or grits or a piece of fruit. When we’re on lock down they serve us less. Just enough to keep us alive. You’ve seen how much weight I lost. Oh well, I’m doing everything in my will power to change that. I will change it. I will.

We just got off lockdown. I had to wait to get stamps to send letters off. I got the books you sent. I don’t know why it took so long. I could see when you ordered it. I also received a book from Melvin. It is called, The Buddha in Your Mirror. It’s a real good book with lots of knowledge in it. Is hard to put down when I start to read it. I love it. It breaks things down where I can understand it. Please give my greetings to the members when you go to your next SGI meeting.

In this prison I’m only allowed to have two visits per month as a G5. I come up for my G4 in a month. I hear they aren’t letting a lot of people have their G4.
(Sonni’s note: G5, Ad Seg and solitary are all the same thing. At least 23 hours a day locked up with no privileges of any kind. He can’t make a phone call or have a visit that isn’t behind glass until he is G2. He is served food through a slot in the door. Exercise in the yard is in a cage) They are making me do an extra six months. The thing about that is, when I do come back up I might be coming up for my G2. We’ll see. That hasn’t happened so far. Things have away of not not working out the way you want them to

As much as it hurts me I have to say this. I love Jamie and the kids with all my heart. I do. However, I’m starting to feel like I am no longer a part of their lives. It hurts. Megan still don’t try to bring Jamie or try to talk to my family. So that’s why I hurt. As his father, I’m not able to be there for my son so he will know that I love him. I’m being stopped from doing that. Any other dad might be glad he didn’t have to worry about his child or children. The men who don’t care have women who drive them crazy trying to get them to be interested in their kids. However, the ones who do care have so many problems trying to spend time with their kid. I don’t why.
A lot of things are changing as life goes by. Change is a good thing. We all need change sometimes. I’ll know things are changing for me when I am able to see my son when I want to – and when I am home.

(after the visit) Hello mom, I’m back. I just had a visit with Melvin. He’s a real good person. He’s funny, too. He encourages me a lot and that’s pretty cool and it’s what I need. We talked about a lot of stuff. You know, about his life at their restaurant. We talked a lot about his life. He calls it ‘back in the day’. He’s a wonderful person. We had a good time at our visit. He caught me on a bad day. I want feeling well and I was tired. I made the best of it because I knew it was for a good reason he was here that day. We enjoy each others company. We laughed, talked and changed together.

He told me about a group of four that gets together to chant. Of course, one of them is him. However, the group of four added another person yesterday. Guess who that person is? (smile) It’s me! We are called the Onalaska group. We are having our first meeting on the 27th of April at Melvin’s restaurant. I will be here but not in my mind.

He asked me about the food. I told him that T.D.C.J (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) has some units that butchers their own pigs. This place happens to be one of those units, so they serve a lot of pork. Too much pork. I just have to deal with it the best I can. Then we chanted for five minutes. I was tired. He could see it in my eyes. He told me to get some rest. please call him and tell him I will continue to chant and encourage others. Ask him, how did the first meeting go?

There was a problem that day, I found out. My mom tried to visit and they turned her away because I already had my two visits for the month. I go for years without having a single visit from anybody. Now I had too many! Yes, life is changing.

I’m going to go for now, but not forever. Till next time. Love you always, Son

(note from Sonni: SGI stands for Soka Gakkai International. The words are Japanese and translate into Value Creation Society. This letter is different from other letters. It was filled with hope and determination. It had laughter. His mind was outside of the prison in a positive way. I told him if he studied the causes he made throughout his life, and learned to make new ones, better ones, and if he was able to make the changes he needed and begin to learn what cause and effect is, and what the word consequence means, and gradually make the right causes, he could be happy, even in a prison. Today I saw change. Today I could hear happiness in his words)

(additional note from Sonni: This was originally posted on May 18. I decided to add these words and reprint it today because Melvin has been to see Jamie recently, four times total. It has been such a lifeline for him. I have overwhelming appreciation for this man whom I have never met in person, but feel there is such a heart to heart connection. The cause was made by Jamie to have this man enter his life. There are no coincidences in life. No luck and no miracles. Only causes we don’t understand. You cannot have an effect without a cause. It isn’t logical. Buddhism is reason, not fantasy. Fantasy isn’t real no matter how much you want it to be.

I know they chant together which is important for someone who is just learning. You need to hear how it sounds. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Melvin has encouraged him to keep going. Two weeks ago he told me that Jamie found someone else in the prison who also chants and they’ve been chanting together in the yard. Jamie has told me that most all the inmates make determinations to be better when they get. They want to have a better life. But just wanting a better life is not enough. They need to change the way they process their environment. Because they can’t, they get sucked back into the life they lived before and many end up right back inside. I realize that there are inmates that don’t go back in but far too many do, and the next time is usually worse. After that, they lose all hope of having a life outside the prison with people and events they can be proud of.

Jamie has never had a life. His karma was set before he was born. If it hadn’t happened then, something else would have happened. It was going to happen. I know that anyone reading this who doesn’t understand what Nichiren Buddhism is and what it does for you, wouldn’t understand how it is affecting his life, but little by little things are changing and you can see that change as you look back. I want so much for him to be able to change things for the better and that when he gets out he will be able to change the direction of his life. He will understand himself better and know that there is value in his life. Nichiren Buddhism gives you hope. It gives you the power of determination and it gives you the power to change the things that make you unhappy. You also learn that by helping other people you are helping yourself.

Most faiths try to teach you how to be a good human being and how to live your life right. In Christianity there is the phrase, you reap what you sow. In the secular world the phrase is, you get back what you dish out or what goes around comes around. In Nichiren Buddhism it is the law of cause and effect. But in Nichiren Buddhism we take that phrase very seriously and consciously try to make good causes because there is an effect for every cause that is made. Good and bad, by thought word and deed. And why do we believe in this? Because we want to be happy.

The law of cause and effect is absolute even if we don’t understand or realize that we even made a cause. It is absolute whether you believe it or not. Being in prison is being in the state of hell. But even in prison you can find the state of happiness, even if that state is only there because you finally understood something about yourself that has caused you unhappiness. Every change on the inside shows on the outside. If this change caused you to react to your environment in a different way you’ve made a change.

There is a saying, ” If you continue to do what you’ve always done then you will continue to get what you’ve always got.”

This is my prayer for Jamie. End Sonni’s note.)