My daughter Azteca and my granddaughter Maya came to visit me this past weekend. They had to meet a moving truck in the early afternoon so they came to visit me around 9am. However, Maya was not allowed in to visit me because the guard up front said, her britches were too tight! Now I’m not going to make a big deal about how that same guard sashay’s around the prison yard in pants that she probably bought 30 pounds ago, but I ain’t happy about what happened either. Anyway, they had to drive back to Three Rivers, the town, go to a Dollar General Store and buy some farm pants. After buying her some baggy pants and driving back they missed the 9:30 deadline and had to sit in their car till 10:45. Eventually they made it in, in spite of the, well, I’d better leave that unsaid, but you get the message, right. FYI: Maya was doing a VLOG, which I understand is a video blog, of her trip to visit her grandpa … I’m so proud that she ain’t ashamed to tell her tens of thousands of followers about me. No, I don’t know how you can see it, the whole story unfold, but if you find her on Instagram, you’ll probably be able to find her VLOG … Her Instagram is Maya_Henry.
Anyway, when I first walked in to the Visitation Room I see this beautiful, tall, thin angel, radiant in her baggy pants, standing at the vending machines on the far end of the room. Just as I walk in she turns and sees me; her face lights up, she gets this ear to ear smile and then gives me this shy little girl wave! Man I have that moment permanently etched in my memory, no kidding, that’s been two days back and I’m still feeling warm inside over it.
I spent the next hour sitting in the glow of my daughter’s perfect aura listening to her laugh and laugh. I was so amazed at how happy she is; she has this cute little giggle that makes you instantly love her and she shares her laughter the way nature shares its flowers. I watched her and Maya as they interacted one with the other and I thought to myself that they were more than mother and daughter, they were best friends! And, then they had to leave – the most perfect hour of my life. I am grateful to have had it. And I will never, ever, forget that five seconds of unrestrained granddaughter love I received. A perfect day.
Awhile back a teacher friend of mine sent me a book entitled “Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls. Now this ain’t the kinda book I’d have bought for myself … but I have a rule: if someone takes of their own time and money to send me a book – I’m damn sure gonna read it. I did – and guess what, I loved it. Well, today they showed a movie on TV called, you guessed it “Glass Castle”. Out of curiosity; I wanted to see if it was based on the book, it was – good movie with Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts about a poor dysfunctional “white trash” family; you know, unstable mother, alcoholic father and some amazing kids, made me cry more than once. Getting soft?, no not really, its just that allot of what those kids went through, my brother and I went through, it hit pretty close to home, Woody should have gotten an Oscar for his part.
I wasn’t going to talk about this but, that damned movie has me a little sentimental … last week I found out that my father died on Jan 1st; I don’t know why it took so long for his wife to notify my kids. But, if you’ve kept up with my writings you’ve no doubt realized that I didn’t have much respect for him, with that said, and even though I have been expecting it, it still hurt when I found out, a child can’t help but love their father.
One of my sons came to visit me a couple of months back and in the middle of our visit, he says, “You know what Pop, you had a hard life, but I’ve never once heard you complain about it.” Now I’ve had a compliment a time or two, but that one was the best , because I’ve tried hard not to be a complainer, and for my kids to have the compassion to recognize that my life was no picnic, well, lets just say I’m darn sure proud of that too. Says something about them. With that said, let me tell you a little bit more about this sore subject of my father.
My father, like the father in the Glass Castle movie and book, was like two different people in one body. Sometimes he was loving and thoughtful, other times a real bastard. He was a drunk, a slave to alcohol, a man who drank hard liquor everyday of my life and most of his. He was mean allot of the time, and I remember being happiest when he was out of town working. I had a lousy childhood trying to dodge him.
My parents never once encouraged me to be something better than they were, they never asked if I had homework from school, hell, I’d skip school so often that the school quit asking questions. My parents were what we in America call “Poor White Trash” and that’s what my brother and I were both meant to become. My father never once asked about my education and the only book he ever bought me was one on the gangster Lucky Luciano, his hero. Even though I was a gifted athlete I wasn’t allowed to play sports in school, watch TV except when he wanted to watch something, which was always something I didn’t want to watch. I can’t begin to tell you all the things I’d like to, because some things need to fade away and die, and they can’t if folks keep bringin’ ’em up, so I won’t – but trust me, I was ruined a long time ago and in reality didn’t completely overcome my childhood till I was an old man. Secret scars that took most of my life to put behind me.
Back before I got locked up I was in a feud with the Internal Revenue Service; I trusted him, hell, he was my father, right! Well, in the middle of this dispute I paid cash for a house and then put the title for that house in my fathers name, to hide it from the IRS. My thinking was, that if push came to shove, my wife and kids would have a place to live. Well, about that time my father got married to this lady we called Little Judy. Little Judy had gotten herself in debt, so, without telling me or my brother, my father sells that house and pays off her debts. Yeah, that was my ol’ man at his best. For the record, I lost that battle with the IRS and while I was in jail, my wife and children were put on the streets! Speaking of jail, while I was in jail and later prison, he never once called to check up on my family, nor my brothers, nothing, not a word. He later had the nerve to get mad at his own brothers because one of them got my grandfathers house when he died – my good ol dad thought he should have gotten a share of it … guess he forgot about the house he STOLE from me and my children … karma.
When Little Judy finally got around to letting us know he’d died, she passed this word of comfort along, “He said he made peace with his sons before he died!” Damn that makes me laugh, that is so typical of of him – to make peace with us, as if his life was somehow OUR fault. He was a real selfish son of a bitch. alright.
Nope, that ain’t the half of it, but you get the picture.
Yeah, there were some good times too, like I said, he was like two different people in one body. For starters, though he quit school at twelve and went to work in the Coal Mines of Virginia, he was smart, and he himself had been messed up by his own momma, I wrote about this in my book “Siriusly Bent” which you can download her in my Homepage.
In that book I actually talk about a lot of things yall ain’t heard before. Anyway, I know he had a hard life and I know that in his own selfish way, he loved us, but he always put himself and his desires first, everything else came after that.
For the records, I did make my peace with him, and I appreciate the help he gave me when I was fighting with the law, like I said, he did have a good side as well. I can also forgive him for stealing a house from my wife and kids, I can even overlook the fact that in 22 years behind bars he never once made contact with me ( I didn’t know where he was). But I have a real problem with the fact that in that same time he never took it upon himself to make contact with his own grandchildren, not mine, not my brothers – that to me, is the unforgivable sin.
I do believe in Destiny, and for some bastard reason my father and my mother, who wasn’t no peach herself, are all part of the up’s and downs of my life, and life, no matter what, is all you got to work with while your here, so you gotta make the most out of what ya got. I don’t understand it, but I trust that God has used those things to improve me as a person. And if my childhood and this prison sentence are the downs in my life, then surely my daughters laughter, and my granddaughters smile and wave, are the up.
Like I said, I never wanted to tell you these things because I never wanted to be a whiner, but that damned movie made me realize that I ain’t alone when it comes to hard times, sorrow, uncertainty, and low self-worth. And as I reflect back over the years, I can honestly say that the only thing I ever did right, was, fatherhood, boy, don’t ever make the mistake of saying something bad about me to one of my kids. Yeah, I guess that my lack of parents made me want to show my own kids the love I didn’t have. I love my sons and I love my daughter, and by extension I love all of my grandchildren. So maybe al those things I experienced as a kid was for no other reason than to make me a better father. And if God had shown me a preview of my life and told me that if I accepted a lousy childhood and decades in prison, that i would get to see my children and their children happy – I’d take that deal every time.
You should have seen it! When I walked in, she turned, and when she saw me her face lit up. She smiled ear to ear and gave me a shy little girl wave.
Eddie, as always, thanks.
Ray Lee, could you possibly send me a copy of the picture of that painting?
Mark Crawford 76603-079
F.C.I. Three Rivers
P.O. Box 4200
Three Rivers, Tx 78071
Jerry C. Thanks for sharing your story with me, sounds like we have a lot in common. I want to encourage you to tell others about your time, here and there, especially kids, they have no idea how serious life decisions are. Peace be with you.
Miss Cassie W. That was very sweet of you to send me that message, thanks, I really do appreciate it. Sometimes a guy gets to feeling sorry for himself and thinks that no one is listening, so when someone he hasn’t heard from before comes along, its a treat. Peace be with you. Mark
Three Rivers, 2-22-18