My first Memorial Day in Federal Prison, like most days, started at 4:00 am. My boss came back from training and asked me nicely if I would work in the kitchen for the holiday with little kindness and gratitude which goes along way with me so of course I agreed. We served bacon cheese burgers so all 1400 inmates showed up for lunch and it was crazy! The managers did a great job though, they fed all the inmates and ended up forfeiting their own meal to make sure everyone got a good sized plate.
Today is my first day in education and to say that I am excited would be an understatement! Yesterday was an exhausting day but I worked in the kitchen with Orianna who I have really grown to love. She goes home soon, so I consider the time I get with her as precious. She radiates so much light and is a true example of someone who has made the most of her time in prison by overcoming many challenges, I admire her so much.
I thought about my own Father yesterday who is an amazing man! He is one of my hero’s. My dad fought in the Vietnam war where he was shot and injured and then ended up losing most of his kidney function, consequently he was awarded the Purple heart. I have become very close to my Dad these last few years. Due to his failing kidneys, his health declined and eventually he had to have a kidney transplant or he would die. One of the skills I posses for better or worse is the ability to power through challenging situations and never give up. When my Dad got to the point he either had to have a transplant or he was going to die, I stepped in. My husband Chad went to help him move some furniture and when he came home he said, “I almost didn’t dare leave him there by himself, he doesn’t look good at all.” I decided that night that I was going to get him a new kidney. I started attending all my Dad’s doctor appointments with him and told his doctors at the VA hospital that we would have a donor by May and needed to have the surgery done then. His doctor smiled at me and said, ” How can you be so sure?” I said, “I just won’t give up. It will happen.” I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with him through that process. For months I was with him almost every day.
I remember when I found out that we had a match. My Dad’s brother was first in line but he was not healthy enough to do it. His son, Preston stepped in and in his early 20’s was absolutely determined to help. After he was tested the doctor told us he had the healthiest kidneys he had ever seen and they were a perfect match. Preston and his family are some of the best people I know and I will always feel a special bond to them and will always be grateful for the sacrifice they made. Right before my dad’s transplant Chad and I had to go to Montana. We stopped to check in on my Dad on our way out of town and he seemed really run down. Chad commented that he didn’t know if he would make it very much longer. While we were on that trip I got the call that the kidney was a match and the surgery was scheduled. I got the privilege of calling my Dad and sharing the good news. We cried together and I felt such a powerful spiritual connection to him. The surgery was scheduled and performed on May 31. Just like I told his doctor in the beginning, we needed it by the end of May. My Dad is a whole new person now, he even did a front handspring at our family Christmas party. There were times in the process of getting his transplant that my “get it done” personality came in handy. I remember many set backs and even telling my husband it’s not an option to fail. If I have to carry him on my shoulders into that hospital walking through mud I will do it, whatever it takes! Our Father in Heaven is all powerful and blesses us with unique talents and gifts that when used properly can be so rewarding.
Unfortunately I haven’t spoken to my Father since I arrived here at Dublin FCI. We only get 300 minutes a month on the phone and that works out to be 21 calls at 15 minutes each, so the time is very precious and I use it for my children and husband. You also have to get a person approved to send them a letter or a package, even to send something home to your kids. I guess there are reasons for everything but it certainly is a long process:)
After I got home from work yesterday, I showered quickly and headed over to the workout barn for a lip synch contest. I don’t know how to describe the fun and excitement! My friend Bubbles performed with several of the other women. This place is a melting pot of so many different nationalities and women from mostly humble circumstances. I loved watching them cheer for each other and enjoy themselves. I would go so far as to say I felt a powerful confirmation that I am right where I should be. The energy was great and very entertaining and I’ve never seen anything like it! It reminded me of being a kid again, no fear or inhibition. Everyone singing together and dancing, it was awesome!
Another positive moment came yesterday while working in the kitchen. The warden came in to thank us for working on the holiday and make sure everything was going well for us. I asked him who the person would be to make the final decision regarding visitation. I was reading my scriptures and had a picture of my family as a bookmark and showed him my picture. I said, ” I will be here for a while and need your help approving my husband as a visitor.” He said that he had the ability to make that happen. I will likely have to go through a long process where he is denied first but I’m sure in the end I will be able to see my family while I am here:) I have been told it will never happen per BOP policy but like I said our Heavenly Father is all powerful. If you have sent me a letter and haven’t received one back yet please know that I am grateful for your love and kindness and I’m working on getting approved correspondence:) I have very little connection to the outside world so those of you who read my blog and comment are making a substantial difference in my life!