We had a wonderful time with my dad and brother today. Even though it didn’t end well, with a migraine for me, and a stomach ache for my husband, the rest of the day was really nice.
We dropped the kids off with my in-laws in the morning, meeting up at McDonald’s for breakfast before we went our separate ways. They were headed off to Branson, Missouri – while my husband and I were off to see pick up my dad and visit my brother in prison.
We drove an hour to pick my dad up and then two more to make it to the prison. I drove and my dad sat in the passenger seat, while my husband sat in the back. My dad knew where we were going, so he was my Mapquest.
We talked about my brother a lot. My dad is still so sad about him, as we all are. It’s all right there under the surface. He can barely talk about him without tearing up. We talked about God a lot too. It was really nice having those hours of quality time listening to my dad share his heart with me.
The visit with my brother went well, despite the fact that I had a wicked migraine. My brother especially enjoyed seeing my husband again. They had such a precious relationship outside of prison. I know my brother misses him so much. They used to hang out together a lot. To be honest, I think my brother enjoys my husband more than he enjoys me – and I don’t say that in a sulking way at all. I think its sweet. I wish things were different and my brother could just pop by like he used to and spend the night playing video games and poker with my husband.
The two of them “cut up” and relived “old times”, because that’s what you do when you visit a “lifer” (someone in prison for life) – you relive the old days because that’s all you really have. In our case, nearly nine years ago he was locked up, so we have to go back at least ten years to relive memories.
I sat next to him and just looked at him most of the visit. He’s changed a lot. I barely recognize him when I see him. Each year takes such a toll on him. He would never want to hear that from me. He still thinks he’s a young buck, and according to his age, he is still young, but prison years are different than our kind of years. Prison life is hard. And it shows on the body.
(I’m the only one with a big smile. haha I stick out like a sore thumb. The rest of them look like its a prison picture, I look like its a family reunion at a park or something. Oh and we can’t touch in the picture, prison rules, so that’s why we are all just standing next to each other.)
He had me feel the permanent bump on his head from where another inmate beat him nearly to death last year. He made light of it but I know that experience was terribly frightening but in prison you never want to let anyone know you are scared. You have to present yourself as a bad-ass, even when you aren’t really a bad-ass.
He ate lots of vending machine food. Little pizzas and sandwich’s and pies and chips and nuts etc. He sucked through two drinks and probably could have had more if we would have stayed longer. Two and a half hours into the visit, we decided it was time to leave. Those hours fly by in some ways and crawl in others. The seats are terribly uncomfortable, the bright over-head lights hurt the eyes, the noise is incredible. But the company is worth it all.
I got a hug goodbye. I don’t know when I’ll be able to see him again. That might have been my last hug for a couple years or more. I really don’t know how often we’ll come back to Missouri for visits once we move to Texas. As I approached the door to leave, I turned back around. There he sat. I cry now as I relive that. I waved and left my brother behind, in prison, for life. It still hurts so bad, friends. It doesn’t get easier. It really doesn’t. I miss him so much.
We drove to T.G.I Friday’s to treat my dad for his birthday. And as we sat there, talking, and enjoying each others company, eating good food, a wave of sadness hit me. My husband asked what was wrong. I voiced my sadness about my brother not being with us at the birthday dinner. That made things somber for awhile but I couldn’t help it. I miss him so much and ache for him. I physically ache for him. My heart hurts, its a pain you can feel.
Driving back home, my dad and I talked non stop. Mostly about my dad’s childhood, which gave me a lot of insight into why he was the way he was when I was growing up. Made me sad for my dad as a little boy. I’m happy he let me in on his life though. It really helps me to understand the past more and get to know my father on a deeper level.
At one point he began to cry, I touched his arm and said he is loved. He touched my arm back. He’s a fragile man. So much pain about so many things just under the surface. Not because he’s feeling sorry for himself. But because he’s sensitive, a lot like me and my brother. And he’s had a rough life. Like my mom has had. And much like myself and definitely my brother. But despite the rough lives we’ve all lived, we never blame God, or see Him as the author of the bad. He is our rescuer and we are thankful for Him.
We dropped my dad off at his truck. Hugged and lingered a bit before taking off. We plan on seeing him one more time before we move to Texas. I’ll miss him. We’re just getting to know each other again. He’s just now getting to know his grandkids. And it makes us both sad. But, we’ll make it work. Somehow, we’ll make it work. Just like somehow we’ll make it work with my mom and step-dad and the rest of the family.
Today was a good day over all. Spending it with three of my favorite men. I’m blessed. I have a lot of men in my life that love me. I have my three boys, step -dad, dad, father-in-law, and my amazing husband. I’m surrounded by love. I’m not just lucky, I’m blessed. And of course, the two awesome ladies in my life – my mom and mother-in-law!