04 May, 2011

Happiness, Part II

We sat on Daddy's lap for about the first hour of visiting at Leavenworth and told him everything we had been doing in our little lives.

I remember telling him that someone spray-painted F-U-C-K on the wall  of the school.  His voice got stern and he looked me right in the eyes and told me to never, ever say that word.  He said that it was a very bad word and that ladies never said that word.  He told me that I was too pretty and too smart to ever have that word come out of my mouth.

We played card games with our father, and to this day, he still laughs about them.  Our favorite game to play was "Old Maid".  He obligatorily let us win a few times in a row and then he started winning.  We didn't like that at all, so we took a break.  During our break, Amie and I put a tiny smear of chocolate on the old maid card so that we would know not to pick it. 

Of course, he noticed it, but he let us think we got him.  After every game, he asked, "Now how did I end up with that Old Maid again?"  Amie and I giggled and giggled thinking we pulled one over on the country's best bank burglar.

I would go to the bathroom and get paper towels and Daddy wrote math problems on them.  When I completed them correctly, I could see the pride in his eyes.  He always thought I was the smartest little girl he had ever seen.  He still does.

I've been to many prisons since Leavenworth, and I've become a decent prison food critic.  Leavenworth had the best lunches ever because they would order from KFC (back when it was still Kentucky Fried Chicken).  A guard (or c.o., as the inmates call them) walked around to each table like a waiter and took our chicken order and collected our money. 

There also were vending machines for snacks and pop in the visiting room.  Amie and I played all over the visiting room with the other children who thought this was a normal vacation.  On one occasion, Amie and I decided to try to get one of our dolls into the vending machine, so we pushed her up the tiny opening where the pop cans came out on old vending machines.  Of course, she got stuck.  We pulled and pulled, but only managed to get her body out.  Her head was still in the pop machine. 

The guard couldn't get the doll's head out, so he called my father.  In a couple seconds, the man who blasted through bank vaults pulled a doll's head out of a pop machine.  My daddy could do anything!

When the fifth, and last, day of visiting rolled around, it was a sad one, especially as the clock got closer to 3:00.  We hung onto our father for dear life. 

Finally, it was time to leave him again.  We told him we loved him through our tears.  He told us he loved us, and he always told us to be good little girls for our mother.  Daddy tried to comfort us by telling us that everything would be alright soon.

We nodded our heads, but we knew better.

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  1. I love how your writings bring memories to he surface that I haven't thought of in forever. BTW, I still have that doll's body and head. It's one of my favorite keepsakes. I love you.

  2. This post really touched my heart. My son is currently in state jail serving a 16 month sentence and will possibly face another charge upon release. His daughter turned 4 two days after his arrest. He is a little over 2 hrs. away (one way) and I take her to see him every month. She gets so excited, it just wears her out. She misses him so much. We have the long wait before we get to see him too but we can't take anything in and they certainly don't give us lunch but we do takes quarters and buy him things from the vending machines. But it breaks my heart when she sees him, screams "Daddy" and takes off running to jump into his arms. Thanks for posting this. I worry how all this will affect her in the future and hope it will all work out.

  3. Wow. What an amazing person you are to write about such a personal family matter. I admire how brave you are to put all of this out there. The way you describe even a simple thing like playing a game of cards with your Dad takes on such significance as you try to find a sense of normalcy in your lives. I've already started reading your other posts and laughed out loud at the "vasectomy" story. Hysterical.

    Visiting from TDRC...

  4. This was such a personal reflective story. I love the vivid memories and the way you showed their significance.

    I'm blown away by this post. Truly well done.