As a long time convict I’ve been witness to the anguish “some” men suffer over being separated from their children. I used the adjective, “some”, because not all convicts care about their kids then again, not many kids care about their convict parents.
I am a father. I have a little girl….actually, that would be misleading; I have a 17 year old daughter. Why I have only one child is puzzling, but it is what it is. Her name is Taylor D., and I miss her every single day. It’s hard, baby. Most of this will come out in Book II, “Lunatic fringe”, but I can tell you that my little girl was and is very special to me, far more special than my ex-wife ever was believe that.
When we brought Taylor home it quickly because apparent that the wife was not suited for the mid nite/morning feedings. Diaper changes, etc. so I gladly took over. I quit my job at Denny’s as kitchen manager and the wife went out and got a waitress job. Within 6 months my little girl was sleeping thru the nite. So the wife and I once again swapped; I went back to work, she stayed home now that the hard part was over.
Parents remember certain things; I remember her in her walker when I put a Doors tape in – L.A. Women, I think – and they way her eyes flew open and she cocked her head towards the speaker’s w/obvious pleasure. I remember her first baby steps (nine wobbling steps)…her first laughter….her first words….lots of firsts. But you know, there’s nothing unique in any of this; all fathers know and remember these things.
There was the time when she was 4 years old and she came into our bedroom in the middle of the nite and woke me up.
“Daddy, I don’t feel good,” she said.
“Oh baby”, I said, pulling her up onto me so we were laying face to face I wrapped my arms around her, hugging her to my chest and I asked, “What’s wrong, smurf?” (yes, I did used to call her smurf, still do in fact even tho’ she’s now 5’11” – so what? You wanna make something of it?)
Yeah, so anyway. I asked her, “What’s wrong, smurf?” and in way of an answer, she yarked in my face. Puke in my eyes, my nose, my mouth! It was horrible. The poor baby.
A couple memories I cherish: How we’d be at one of the marts (K or Wal). And she’d see a dolly or dress she wanted and I’d cave in so easily. My own mother used to say, “Look at Michael, 6’3”, 250 pounds, mean bastard his whole life. But that little girl has him wrapped around his little finger.” And indeed it was true. Where as the wife would scowl at me in disapproval. So I began the practice of giving my 5 year old chores to do for cash. I’d stand her on a kitchen chair next to the kitchen sink. I’d pin a towel around her which hung from her armpits to her ankles, and then I showed her how to the dishes. Naturally she’d be paid however much her particular dolly cost. Later that nite I’d sneak into the kitchen and rewash all the dishes in the drainer because Taylor was simply too young and too small to have done a good job. But I never told her that. In fact, I’d hug her and tell her what I good job she’d done.
I once bought her a brand new bicycle when she was 6 years old. Nothing special, a little ol’ $100 jobbie from the 'mart. Pink, BMX. A Huffy I think it was. I also brought her a cable and lock. Showed her how to use them to secure her bike. I then put the key on a string around her neck. Told her to keep care of her bike because it could be stolen.
A couple of days later a neighbor, Eileen, called, she told me Taylor’s new bike was in her yard, unlocked. I knew Taylor was home because she was in the bedroom playing video games.
I asked Taylor,” Say, Smurf, where’s yer bike?”
“I dunno,” she replied absently.
“Well, I guess that means it’s stolen, “I said gravely.
And w/o missing a beat she said, “Its okay, Santa will bring me a new one.”
My mouth unhinged and I thought why you little shit-your mom’s right. I do spoil you. I called Eileen back and asked her to hide Taylor’s bike in their backyard under some piles of old carpet. She agreed.
About a week or so later I looked out the front window and saw Taylor running up and down the street trying to keep up with her friends on their bicycles. So I went outside and called her over. She was flushed and out of breath. I gave her some Gatorade and asked her, “Betcha wish you had your bike now, Hunhn? Betcha wish you’d locked it up so it wouldn’t got jacked, am I right?”
“Yes, daddy, I wish I had my bike back!”
Later that nite I went and got Taylor’s bike, brought it home and locked it to the porch’s post. The next morning you never saw a happier girl. And I’ll tell you something else; she never forgot to lock it up again.
As I said in “Lunatic Fringe,” one thing led to another after a little old spider bite damned near killed me and left me comatose and then damn near disabled, I once again, after then years of abstinence, took up w/ making meth. The wife, she was in it too up to her ears; buying, selling, using-living and loving the whole life. And meth makes me mean. Yeppers. I become a hater to everyone and everything. But for reasons unknown and unexplainable, Taylor still dominated my heart. Toys, games, clothes. Whatever, nor did I make her do dishes. Lots of money what did I care?
And then we got busted. Fucking awful. I was arrested and cuffed in front of my little girl. She cried and clung to her mom. Sad stuff, that. Naturally I did the right thing, even tho’ my lovely wife (very pretty in ’98) was there and was caught w/ dope, w/pipes, w/micro-torches on her person. I manned up and took it all upon myself. Claimed everything was mine; torch, pipe, dope bad dreams, everything mine. I soldiered up, baby; ate that 3rd class felony raw. Got eleven years for it (6 years sentence plus 5 years of parole paper).
And my wife, after nine years of marriage, was grateful. In fact, she was so grateful that she showed it by agreeing to testify against me in court, plus she divorced me, left me in prison. Took my daughter and disappeared for 3 years! For 3 long years I heard nothing. Oh Lord I missed my baby girl! The heartache was unbearable. It nearly killed me. I’m as serious as a no knock warrant, man.
My ex-wife, she went and got herself a trucker boyfriend who jacked her for everything she had, including Taylor’s clothes and toys. This forced my ex to go and stay with Taylor’s grandmother, my mom. And that’s when I received a letter from Taylor. Written in shakey second grader handwriting.
I prized that letter! Held it near and dear to my heart. My little girl had not forgotten me. The giant does have a week spot after all……
And it’s to these precious memories that I hold on. I love her and miss her so much….The ex wife? P.Tooety!! Who cares, man? Both good and bad memories there.
I eventually got out of prison and the (ubiquitously owned by Judges & lawyers) half-way houses in late 2001, and was able to hold and love my daughter again. But only on the Disneyland dad weekends.
I’ve been a hostage for 6 years come December. In 6 years I’ve only heard from Taylor twice. I’m grateful her mother lets me at least write to Taylor via a P.O. Box. Taylor’s a phenomenal artist, by the way. I immediately had the Dragon & Heart drawing (she sent me when she was 15 years old) Tattooed on my left wrist. I do love her. I do miss her like crazy. I don’t blame her for not writing more often; teenage girls are very busy…..
UPDATE: Taylor and Katfish have been able to reconnect via e-mail, and have been in contact as recent as 10/09. The e-mail program that they are implementing at Federal Prisons is a good thing folks. I enjoy using it myself to keep in touch.