One Foot After The Other (and Don’t Look Back)

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The only legacy of real value you leave behind when you leave this earth is the effect you had on other people. It is powerful because you can change lives – for the better or for the worse. Affecting someone’s life means they will affect others. Lift them up or drag them down. In that way you live on through others long after you are gone.

What you do, say and think always has a consequence. We see that work in a negative way when parents, teachers and preachers teach children to be prejudiced and judgemental toward others in many ways. They grow up to be racist adults, or teens who bully classmates they think are inferior. They were taught to think like that.

Instead, think about how you want to affect the world around you. Take responsibility for all you do and don’t blame others for your life. This is what I have taught Jamie. He is responsible for his life as we all are. I have tried to show him through example. I’ve tried to teach him what he had no chance learn going through his youth. I’m sure his mother loved him. That love is unconditional, but we can only teach what we know.

The more you give the more you get. You reap what you sow – what goes around comes around, no matter what faith you practice. I practice Nichiren Buddhism. It has taught me more about myself than any other teaching. It taught me compassion for all people, not just people you decide is worthy based on your chosen faith. It taught me how to live and I’m still alive – so I can finish what I’ve started.

Life has been upside down the past few months. I didn’t have time to put out a newsletter  because there are only so many hours in a day. Many people have followed the blog at My Name is Jamie. Life in Prison and read blog posts about the reality of prison and how it affected his Jamie’s state of mind. I hope to think that being there for him and  knowing someone cared, helped him get through days when he felt like giving up. He couldn’t understand why his family wasn’t there to help him go through the extreme loneliness of a prison cell.

When I tried to encourage letters and explained to his family how lost Jamie felt I was told, “Just because he got hisself in trouble doesn’t mean my life stopped.”

I was then told, ” I’m not going to answer this because you’re really starting to piss me off.”

“My telling you the truth pisses you off?” I replied. “If I am wrong about any of this, please tell me where.”

“Really, it’s not your concern,” I was told. “Jamie lies a lot.”
That’s a good one. It’s hard to keep a lie going for ten years, especially when there is no reason.

“It is my concern,” I replied. “Tell me what the lie is.”

Silence

I couldn’t understand that attitude. This came from a blog post I wrote 3 1/2 years ago, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother” These excerpts were taken from that post. It still brings me to tears. I was helping his brother and for that I got slapped down. How dare I care. He’s the father of my grandson but his welfare was not my concern. 

I do not write about this in the book. I don’t say how I feel. The book isn’t about them. The most I say is how lonely he is not understanding why no one writes to him and I don’t mention any names.

Trying to finish the book and making the money to pay an editor has been a challenge. Opening an online store to make money has been fun – but more expensive than I thought. I didn’t know what I was doing. I paid marketing companies for guidance. I worked it and now I think I have a nice looking store with good products and I work on getting it in front of people every day. Slowly sales are picking up. Now I’m building a new website around the store that will have more to offer than just items to buy to give it value. I’ve learned, though, that making money the first year in business is difficult. Just staying afloat with enough sales to cover overhead eats up the most of the hours in my day and all of the profit. Most business apps have monthly fees. There are fees on top of fees.

My health is declining. I’ve been fighting for more life for 20 years when Hep C was diagnosed. Everything that could go wrong, has. I was stupid in my early 20’s and through a boyfriend I did IV drugs. It didn’t last long, but it was too late. But everything happens for a reason. What has it taught me about myself? So much. Symptoms started in my mid 30’s. I have fought hard to stay alive and today cancer is showing its head – again –

Radiation on my head after ear removal

The ugly scar you can see part of near the bottom of the photo toward the left is a botched skin graft that was supposed to heal into a thin line that eventually would fade. It is 6 months old and painful to touch because it cut into nerves. It’s more than 3″ long and still inflamed. The Dr wants to shoot a bunch of needles off cortisone into it. That will be painful. The red ball on top of my ear that looks like a wad of gum is where my ear was cut off. The skin graft was supposed be fashioned into a place my glasses arm could rest. A kinda sorta ear . There is nowhere now to put an arm from glasses. The bandaid is the biopsy site where the lump is. But hey! My hair color is real!

I’ve had several issues with cancer. Liver cancer and skin cancer – common with liver transplant patients. Which was in 2012. In Oct 2018  I had skin cancer and a pie wedge was cut out of one ear. It didn’t stop in January I ended up the top half of that ear cut off. “I am confident I got it all,” the Dr said. But he didn’t. I had radiation and it burnt off the hair on the side of the head. It didn’t stop it. Now it is spreading  internally and I have a lump on my neck. On July 15th I am having surgery – a neck dissection – to cut out all of the lymph nodes on the side and back of my neck and more radiation. If it spread further then it’s chemo time. My body can’t fight it because I’m on anti- rejection meds to suppress my immune system to keep the liver. I have lived so far for a reason.

My transplant doctor told me they lose more transplant patients because of squamous cell carcinoma than anything else. The fight is on.

I say this only because. . . I don’t know why I’m saying it other than it has complicated my life further and I’m trying to figure out where to put it in my head. I spent 12 years writing to him and 3.5 years writing this book and recording the music and videos to promote it. It’s given me a reason to keep going. I have to finish it.

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I wanted to write this book for the many people who have been through prison and understand the psychological effects of long term isolation. I want the profit from the sale of the book to help Jamie start his life again and be a father to his son, my grandson. Certain people have tried to turn this into something ugly. People enjoy negative gossip. They have no idea what this book is about. They have never read it or asked about it, but they’ve known I’ve been writing it.

Now Jamie is out, and the book isn’t complete yet. I need money and I’m stressing over the lack of it. I need to pay professional editors to work with me. This is why I started the store. Thank goodness he didn’t have to do the entire sentence and was paroled four years early. Now he can see his son, his only child.

I had just finished radiation from the last surgery and I couldn’t be there when he got out. No one was there. For thirteen years he was “Inside The Forbidden Outside. ” It was his first time being on the outside and he had to take a bus to his brother’s house. He had no way to call me even if he could. I was on a train headed back home because I found a lump on my neck.

A friend of 40 years, another musician, also a Nichiren Buddhist (and my 2nd ex-husband) suggested I start a gofundme campaign. It is really hard to ask for money. He told me there would be people who understood. I was amazed because I already have had a couple contributions. If you read the campaign you’ll see I will be sending them a free copy of the book and music when it’s published.

I estimate I have about 6 chapters to rewrite. This is the 2nd draft. With a story editor to guide me I’m sure there will be revisions. I can’t put out a book that is less than professional. There is also sequel planned, because this book only goes in time from 2006 to 2016. The sequel picks up there and goes through getting out and re-entry. Cancer isn’t going to stop me from finishing. But maybe, because of what is happening I should extend the chapters beyond 2016.

A BIT OF JAMIE’S EARLY LIFE, BEFORE PRISON.

To understand Jamie’s story a little more if you haven’t been to the blog and read the pages at the top ot any early affiliates

Jamie  spent so much of his life removed from society, never learning how life works. Four years in juvenile detention starting late in his 16th year, to keep his little brother from being sentenced after hitting a cop with a broom when he forced his way into their home. The cop knocked down their mother and broke her wrist. They wanted to send a little boy to juvenile detention for defending his mother because someone needed to be responsible and it just wasn’t going to be the cop. There have been many articles in the media showing cops doing the exact same thing to other families, but back then in the late ’90s the internet wasn’t what it is today.

The attorney convinced Jamie to do his brother’s nine month sentence, except they had no intention of letting him leave until he was 21. By then he was so depressed he was kept in a different facility far from home for incarcerated youth with mental issues. Epileptic seizures and having no family near was wrong.  He lost the rest of his youth and high school years. When was he supposed to develope the wisdom and social skills he needed to understand to get through life. Who were the right people to be friends with? So he picked the wrong people to be friends with. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong friends put him in prison before his son was born. I took care of my daughter until my grandson was a year old when she left to go back to Texas.

I helped Jamie through his prison sentence because everyone in his life who should have been there for him – wasn’t. No one helped him after the first year.  Letters and visits were as rare as snowstorms are in Texas. Money for things he needed, such as stamps and hygiene products or paying his medical fees were paid by me as well as books to read, extra food, ( he’s a big man) and even candy to bribe the guards.

Our letters are a journey through what went on his head. The emotional toll. He suffered through the heat with no air conditioning – summers when he passed out from the heat, and when guards cuffed his wrists and legs during a seizure, or when 5 guards picked him up and rammed his head into a wall or wouldn’t let him see a dentist when his impacted wisdom teeth got infected.

I will be there for him to lean on until his knowledge and experiencecatches up with his 36 years and he is a confident, strong man with a life of purpose.

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Looking Into The Crystal Ball

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Looking into the crystal ball. Don’t we wish we had one? When you listen to this music hear it through to the end. Listen to the story. There may be no words but the emotion will create it. There is a big difference in the tone quality if you listen to it with the speakers on your device or with good speakers or headphones, if you want to enjoy the music.

Two nights ago, long after I went to bed and after a long day working on many aspects of my writing and other projects that keep my life going in a forward motion. I sat up in bed thinking, ” I need to go play my piano.” I got out of bed and went into the living room and turned on my piano. It was late so I couldn’t turn the volume up out of respect for my neighbors so I plugged in headphones.  There was so much going on in my head.

I cleared a track so I could record. This music is what came out. It is the only thing I played.  I was feeling sad and overwhelmed. I don’t think about what I’m playing. My fingers transform the feelings running through me and turn it into music. When I was done playing I turned off my piano and went back to bed. The next day I played it back, and I played it again.  It was as if a knife sliced me open and a hand reached inside and grabbed hold of my heart and I cried. Tears rolled down my cheeks.  There is so much emotion wrapped up in all of this – “the projects” I call them, between writing the book, my blogs, newsletter and all of the social media and other connections, along with the music and promoting all of it.

So much depends on me doing a good job. This piece of music is just one example of tying my music and a chapter of the book together with the same title as I work on an album to promote as a soundtrack for the book. Jamie’s future, as well as mine are being be shaped by the things I do today.  If only I had a crystal ball.  I believe in the law of cause and effect.  The law of karma. Some call it, you reap what you sow. I take that very seriously.

I have also just begun making a video series based on the titles of the chapters in the book – one more project added to the mix. I hope to upload a new video each month.  I’d like to do more each month but there is a time factor and there is a cost.  The first one was uploaded to Jamie’s facebook page (link below) while I develop a YouTube artist channel.  When it is ready you will be the first to know.

I hope you enjoy.

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If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

My personal music website  – sonniquick.net

Sonni’s Pinterest

Jamie Life in Prison at Facebook . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick . . . New facebook page of the past and present

ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.

SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London

Soundcloud – album – Stories without Words

It will soon be listed at CDbaby, itunes, spotify, amazon and others

album cover

 

 

Chapter – The Last Freedom Day

INSIDE THE FORBIDDEN OUTSIDE

CHAPTER

THE LAST FREEDOM DAY

       I have had so many hours to sit and think; my life playing over and over in my head like a loop that doesn’t know how to stop. I keep trying to make sense of what happened. It’s easy to look back and think; What if I did things differently? I know I can’t go back and do that, but I hope I’ve learned I can do things different in the future.  I need to remember to think things through.  How do I want this to turn out?  Do people do that? How often do people take responsibility for their actions or do they blame others for  what happens?  Do they cry,  “I’m just a victim!  It’s not my fault.” I only know, If I don’t learn to think before I act, then life will keep slapping me in the face.  Hopefully I have learned that lesson.

       I don’t think I could have kept this from happening.  Maybe I could have escaped this exact thing by not going out that night, but the cause had already been made for something like this to happen and there was no escaping it. My karma would it have caught up with me one way or another. Karma is karma and it is what it is. If a cause is made there will be an effect. I didn’t know about any of this back then. It is like gravity. There is no escaping it. If I jump off a cliff, I’m going splat on the ground. This is what happened here. My life went splat and I landed in a prison cell. I have to go through this to learn what I need to learn about life.

       What would have happened if I didn’t go out that night? Four years in juvenile detention should have taught me more than it did. I knew my friend was bad news. He had been in and out of trouble his whole life. Just being around him was taking a chance. I knew that; of course I did, but I never really thought about it because some things you can’t know without being taught. I had no one to teach me. I don’t know if I would have listened if someone tried. The young think they already know enough.

       I didn’t know what it meant to have priorities. I didn’t know how to set goals. Who did I know who had goals? I lived my life day by day and hoped the future would work itself out. I’m a good person. What did I do to have such a screwed up life? I began to feel trapped and up against a wall. I had to make some money. Morgan kept telling me I had to find a way to bring money home. But how was I supposed to do that? I didn’t even have a high school diploma. How was I supposed to support a family with five people? It was a lot of pressure knowing I was going to be a dad and needed to do things things I didn’t have a clue how I to do.

       Who was going to give me a job? I can’t even get a drivers license because I have epilepsy. I have no job resume or references. I’ve been locked up since I was in the tenth grade. I would have to tell an employer I had epilepsy. The chances of having a seizure on the job would always be a possibility. I couldn’t work at a fast food place. If I had a seizure I could really get hurt in a kitchen or cause others to get hurt.  No, there would be all kinds of excuses why they wouldn’t hire me. They weren’t supposed to discriminate, but they would anyway, knowing you weren’t going to file charges against a job that was only going to minimum wage. It’s not worth the trouble.  I didn’t have many options except maybe manual labor.  Stress and heat bring on seizures.  Besides I wanted to do more with my life.

       The night this went down, I went out to party with a friend; shoot some pool and have fun. I had lost my teen years from late sixteen to twenty-one to juvy.  I met Morgan a few months before, soon after I got out. I fell in love with her the first time I laid eyes on her. I didn’t have a chance to get an education so I could at make decent money. Looking back, it was easy to see we should have put more thought into having a baby until we had better plans in place. Having a baby and figure out later how to make it work was not a good plan. But it is what it is.

        I knew it was stupid going out that night. This dude was bad news. He was fun to hang out with, but he had been and out of trouble since he was a kid. It was only a matter of time before he got locked up for good. I was no angel growing up.  I got in some trouble as a kid. A lot of boys do. But I was no criminal. Not like what you see on TV.

       If I hadn’t locked me up for four years before this in juvy, maybe things would be different. All because a cop was determined to get me. I was only supposed to be there for nine months but they lied.  If he hadn’t illegally shoved his way into our house and made my mama fall and break her wrist, I would have gone on to finish high school. I had problems with this cop before. Racism in the police is a common thing in Texas.  They harass the blacks a lot.  I’m not stupid. I know what it feels like to have racism directed at my face.  Living in the south, black is not the right color to be, and I know I’m not the first person to say this.

       I hold myself up and remember there are things I can do with my life when I get out and have another chance. I want to travel and see more of the country. I’ve never traveled outside of Texas. There is a whole world out there to see. I used to want to be a long distance truck driver so I could travel around and see it. That’s probably not possible because of my epilepsy, but I think about it a lot. I also want to help other kids; teach them not to ruin their lives and use my own life as an example. I want to do good with my life and I want my son to be proud of his dad.

       Now it is 2016.  I’ve been locked up in prison for more than ten years and my son is almost ten.  These are years I can’t get back, so I have to believe I can change my life for the better so it isn’t wasted time.  I am going to have a good life.  I know I will do things better when I get out.  Most dudes say that, but they get sucked back in.  They don’t know how to do things any different.  Not me; life is going to get better for me.  I can feel it. I have to keep the big picture in my head.  I have a son to take care of, and he is not going to end up in this place, even though the odds are against him and the cops are still racist when they see the color black. Has that changed since he was arrested?  No, but I will make sure my son will not become part of the system.

        It is not any of the guard’s fault I am in here.  It was my own actions that put me here. But even though it is my fault, it doesn’t mean we have to live the way they make us live.  There are things that need to change.  Too many people are getting physically and mentally hurt because no one cares what happens to us.  They think we deserve being treated like animals.  The law wouldn’t like people treat animals the way they treat us.  We are human beings. Our sentences do not include abuse. These guards, who treat us badly, will have consequences in their own lives for what they do to us. They think they are getting away with it, but they aren’t.

       If I only ever learned one thing from my study of Buddhism, it is this: What goes around comes around. You reap what you sow. The law of cause end effect. You get back what you dish out. It is all the same thing. No one gets away with anything. I’m paying for what I did and they will pay for what they do, too. I am learning how to change the negative things in my life to positive things. It’s hard, but I’m learning. The positive side of this lesson is it applies to all the good things you do, too. So the more positive things I do, the better my life will be.

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       I want to go back to that night, the one that set this all in motion. On January 26, 2006, around 9:30-10:00 at night, a friend came over and suggested we go out and party at a club in a nearby town. That night was not supposed to turn into anything illegal in any way, except that gaming halls themselves are illegal because gambling was still illegal in Texas. I don’t know if it still is. We were only going to do a little gambling and that’s it. We were smoking a little weed and jammin’ to the music. He made a statement about robbing the place but I didn’t take it seriously. He was always saying crazy things like that. Well, he ended up doing it. It shocked me.  He had a gun in his backpack.  I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t do it.  He was my friend.  Friends don’t leave each other.

        It didn’t work out for him.  He didn’t rob the place but he did take out the gun.  That is when I knew I needed to get out of there.  He ran after me and jumped in the car as I tried to leave.  As we left the place it was really crazy.  It was dark and we were on a back road. I was driving like a bat out of hell to get away. As I passed a road he yelled at me to turn around because I missed a turn.  I didn’t care about no turn. I was trying to get as far away as I could.  He kept yelling so I turned around.

       As I made it back to the turn, POW! The Sheriff was stopped at the stop sign. I looked in the rear view mirror and sure enough, he was doing a U-turn. He followed us as I drove. The next thing I knew there were cop cars everywhere.

       So I told my “then” friend, “I’m fixing to pull over.” He was pissed, telling me not to.

       I told him, “Fuck that, I’m not going to have a wreck.” The Sheriff was behind us. I pulled over. We sat there for about two long minutes.

       The Sheriff called out to me. “Stick both hands out the window.” They all had their guns pointed at the car. I did what I was told.

       “Take your left hand and turn off the car.”  I did. 

       “Take your right hand and open the door.”  After I opened the door he said,  “Hold both hands out and keep them out in the air.” I did everything he said to do exactly as he said it.

       “Stretch out in the road and if you move I will shoot you.” He was serious. I believed every word he said. We were on a back road.  He could have done anything he wanted and no one would know anything different.

       They did the same thing to my friend. We were searched and taken to the county. When we got to the jail they asked us why we did it.

       I said, “Man, I was just gambling.” He asked me again. I gave him the same answer.

       “All I was doing was gambling. Nothing else.”  I was placed in a holding cell and I could see out the window. The next morning I saw Morgan. Another time I saw my mama. I was told nothing. Then they placed me in another cell for a few days and fed me TV dinners. Then they sent me to Newton, Tx to a holdover jail. When I got there it was a lot different from where I was before. They had tanks instead of cells. A tank is a big area with a lot of bunks. The biggest tanks hold almost sixty people. The one I was in had twenty-five to thirty people. There were a few tables, a TV, two shower stalls and two toilets. They kept a broom and mops in the tank for us to clean with. My bunk was all the way in the back by the toilets.

       I went to court and they start talking about giving me forty-five years.  forty-five years?  Keep me looked up until I was sixty seven years for this? I don’t even have a record.  I’ve never been arrested for a crime and they want to take away my life?  Because I’m black and I don’t have a real attorney? I got angry. I turned them down. I didn’t do anything. I’m guilty of running because I was scared of what my friend did, but I never pulled a gun on anyone. I didn’t try to rob anyone of money. I’m only guilty of having a poor judgment of friends. I am NOT going to agree to forty-five years for that!

       A few days pass by and they take me back to court.  For the very first time I met the public defender who was supposed to be defending me, not railroading me.  But he wasn’t  interested in hearing what happened.  His only job is to scare me into taking a plea.  he didn’t care if I was guilty or not.  This attorney, whose name I can’t remember told the district attorney they had enhanced my case from 5 to 99 years, to 15 to 99.  

       “Who? I asked him. “Who enhanced it?  Are they charging me with things that didn’t happen?” All these thoughts are running around in my brain.

     So I asked him, “What are you talking about?”

       He looked at me with a bored expression on his face like I was taking up too much of his precious time.  “It’s because of your juvenile record.”

       I got confused.  What did my juvenile record have to do with anything?  Looking back, I know now that had to be a lie.  A juvenile record is closed  There is a reason for that and it’s so they can’t use something against someone for whatever happened while they were a kid.  They can’t just go and look at it without a court order.  They would be told it was inadmissible.  Besides, I wasn’t there because I committed a crime.  I hit a cop with a broom because he hurt my mother.  No judge would let them use that and give me forty seven or ninety nine years.  But I didn’t know then it was just a scare tactic. 

       Then he said, “The DA is offering 17 years and would go no lower.” They said if I didn’t take it they would take me to trial. It was a scare tactic. They were never going to let me go to trial, and they knew it.  But I had no one to talk to about this. By now I was ready to give up.  I couldn’t deal with it anymore and i didn’t know what to do.

       Believe it or not, I even told the PD I wanted to go to court, but he backtracked real quick and said the DA wouldn’t talk to me. The DA probably didn’t even know who I was, and they were just trying to make me believe he had said all this stuff. I wasn’t important enough for him to want to spend any time with. But what was I supposed to do when I didn’t have anyone on my side?  My life was a game to them. I think of these things later, but it’s too late.  They didn’t give me time to think.  They knew what they were doing.  It wasn’t until much later when I learned about the corporations, and how they have a deal with the government to keep the prisons full, that this all started to make sense.

       Since I didn’t have a real attorney, I knew I didn’t have anyone who would go to bat for me. I was screwed.  Public defenders get paid by the hour so all they want is for you to get scared and agree to everything.  That way they can get on to their next client they need to screw for a paycheck.  Most of these dudes couldn’t make it as a real attorney so $75 an hour sounds pretty good to them. How many people can they screw in one day?

       So  I said to myself, “Fuck it. Let me get this over with.”  I signed for the seventeen years and went back to the county jail in Newton.

       I called Morgan for the first time. How was i supposed to tell her this? I explained the situation as best I could.  I told her I understood she will want to get on with her life.  I asked her to make sure our baby knows me and my family.  That is all I asked of her. She went crazy on the phone and said she’s not going anywhere, and so on. We talked, but after our call I was still in a real fucked up mood.  I went to my bunk, sat down, and just went into space not thinking about anything. I zoned out.

       As I was sitting on my bunk, a white dude in his thirties came over to take a shit on the toilet beside my bunk.  He didn’t flush. I asked him to flush. He didn’t say anything. When he comes from behind the stall, he goes to get the push broom, takes the stick out and threatens me – over flushing the damn toilet! I’m tired. It’s 1 am.  I need sleep.  I am in no mood for this. He threatens me that he’ll have me eating through a straw. Long story short, I lost it and took everything out on him.  From the back of the tank to the front. He was no match for me at my age. The dude fell over a trash can, then shoved himself into it. Next thing I know he was ratting on me and ended up going to the hospital. It didn’t matter that he caused it and threatened me; I beat him up.  I ended up in lock up for two weeks. Then I was transferred to tdcj – Texas Department of Criminal Justice – to the Holiday Unit.  Now I was officially in my first prison unit instead of jail.  Anger is going to be one of my biggest challenges to overcome.

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Sonni Quick’s Jpay Prison Email to Jamie Cummings

Encouragement(Sonni’s note: I’ve posted many letters from Jamie but I’ve not posted my responses to him. Many of my letters to him were written through jpay.com, the prison email system. I can email to him but he has to write back longhand. They keep a copy of all letters. Yesterday I posted a letter he wrote in 2010, so I went back and found one of mine from the same time period. His letter to me was shortly before I had to close my store in Key West because I was losing my fight with Hepatitis C and was rapidly becoming to sick to work anymore. Add our crashing economy and the BP oil spill in the gulf and my life came crashing down. I moved back to my home state of Pa to be near a good transplant hospital, Penn State Hershey Medical. I thought being near family would be good. I could not have been more wrong. This letter was written right after I was accepted on the transplant list and the fun was about to begin.)

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November 2010

Hello son,

I don’t know the number of the institution you are in to make those phone calls you want me to make, but I am going to look on the net and I’m sure I’ll find it. I know you need to know what is happening. But also, I wanted to know if I should call as mother or mother-in-law and if it matters, especially since your mom  is not involved in your life at all. Megan told me she heard of your mom’s pending marriage when she took little Jamie over there and also found out about your sister’s pregnancy and your brother’s trouble. Maybe the person who wrote to you thought it would be better if you didn’t know but that doesn’t make much sense. It seems they keep a lot from you.

I hope the book I sent was good. On Amazon you can read the first few pages to decide, but that’s all. It looked interesting. I’d send you books every week if I could. It would at least help to pass the time.

I hated to hear about your seizure and the way they treated you. Since they haven’t been consistent about giving you your medication, I’m sure that had a lot to do with it. What is your cellie like? I’m sure they find out about your illness and wonder if you will have one in front of them. People get scared of things they don’t understand. I know that it can harm you and do damage to you. I understand that people are in prison for a reason and some of those reasons can be very bad, but that doesn’t me it’s okay for the guards to treat people as though they are less than human.

I’m sure there are decent guards and also those that get off on hurting people, enjoying having that kind of control. But people get back what they dish out. It may not come from the people they hurt, but what goes around comes around. The law of cause and effect is very strict. There is an effect for everything we do – good and bad – so just sit tight and do the best you can and ride this out because it will, someday, be over, and when you start your life again you want to feel good about what you are doing.

Yes, family is very important. But the hardest thing some people have to learn is to respect other people’s privacy. I had not spent  much time around my family and I didn’t expect them to be so judgemental. I felt that I couldn’t say anything to anyone, including my mom without everyone calling each other with their latest gossip. And my mom was getting aggravated because I don’t do things the say she does. It was hard ripping up my entire life and moving up here into to my mom’s spare 10×10 room. Not much bigger than your cell. I don’t like people talking about my life on the phone or discuss my medical tests with each other. I had asked her for only one thing. Respect my privacy, and it didn’t happen. Mike and I spend a lot of time in our room because it is our only space. But my mom is getting better about it. We’ve had fewer testy little arguments. She is 77 and I have to remember that aging is no fun. She’s losing her hearing and she repeats herself a lot because she forgets, so I have to learn to just let things roll over me and not react. 

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It’s hard to picture the rec area and the cages and the way they try to get people to fight. I think I would rather stay in lockdown to lessen the chances of getting written up. Although being able to play basket ball would be good if your knees were ok. What have the nurses said about your knees? There is something very wrong. Is it possible that it is water on the knee?

It was good to hear that you were helping other people. Some people have had such horrible lives and have people that don’t know the difference between right and wrong. They don’t have a chance. You, too, weren’t raised in a way to feel that you were capable of so much more. No one to help with your schooling. Where were the adults that you could look up to and respect? You have a chance to change all that when you get out. To do something your enjoy, to feel good about yourself and have the confidence to get past the negativity.

And yes, I would like to see a copy of the things the commissary has. Also – are you still getting the mag subscription you wanted?

Well, time to eat. I made a big pot of split pea soup. I like to cook, and not being able to work right now gives me all the time I want to cook. When Mike and I get our own place my mom is sure going to miss me because I do all the cooking! She finds it hard to cook for one person and doesn’t eat as well as she should. Since she has diabetes, what you eat is very important. I’m sure you would just like to eat something that tasted good with fresh veggies and fruit and maybe some nice bbq’d ribs. Oh! I’m being mean aren’t I? Just trying to get your imagination going!

Lots of love son, mom