Lonely Road, Locked Away

A few months ago…and a few months before that…I told the story of a woman I loosely know who embezzled more than a million dollars from her employer.

That employer was the county government. She was in a lot of trouble.

This woman (let’s call her Judy) is dating the ex-husband of a friend of mine. Actually, he was my friend first; we worked together in the county’s IT department. Since I don’t believe in being friends with a married man unless I’m friends with his wife, I made sure I met Pam as soon as possible. It’s uncomfortable finding out a man you work with has been talking about you to his wife…and she’s not sure what to think about it.

Anyway, when they divorced, my loyalties leaned toward Pam. Her ex (we’ll call him Joe) began dating Judy, who looked remarkably like Pam. I mean, remarkably. Apparently, the similarities ended there.

I learned from Pam, who heard it from Joe, that Joe and Judy were convinced she’d get probation. After all, this was a first time offense, and she’d had cancer ten years ago. The prison wouldn’t want a 50-year-old woman with a history of cancer, right? I laughed out loud at that idea. Judy stole public funds for ten years, and the prison system could not possibly care less about your health.

She was sentenced last month. Today is her last day of freedom for nearly three years. She has concurrent sentences and this was a federal offense, and it adds up to her serving the whole time. I think she was lucky to get only 34 months. She could have been sentenced for up to 13 years.

I don’t know if it’s hit her yet, what she’s about to face and how long she’ll be there.

I have mixed feelings about all of this. What she did was terrible and foolish. Based on records published in the newspapers, she started out with a bang. It wasn’t a slow seduction into evil, for which I’d have more sympathy. It’s hard to know what to think.

Judy’s two daughters were out of her life long before all of this took place. They won’t let her see her grandchildren, and they’ve told her, actually, told other relatives, they won’t visit her in prison. Pam’s girls despise her, although for their father’s sake, they are courteous.

Speaking of Joe, he was planning to break up with Judy right about the time she was arrested. He stood beside her until now, but is ready to be free of the whole situation.

She simply doesn’t come across as someone who’s going to evoke a lot of sympathy.

Yet I don’t wish federal prison on anyone, particularly a 50-something woman with no background to prepare her for what’s ahead. People talk about “country club” prisons. That’s bullshit. There’s no such thing. Prison is a tough place to be, no matter what level it is.

Our jail and prison systems need an overhaul. Incarceration is meant to remove you from society, not punish you with subtle tortures until you learn you have no value. Remember, most of them will be back in society again, and need help to lead the lives they want to lead — and for everyone’s sake, should lead.

I wouldn’t have these mixed feelings if I believed Judy will be safe in prison. Being locked away is lonely and isolating, and that’s punishment enough. It’s a long day when so much is taken from you.

So my prayers are with her. Yes, she deserved to go to prison — but not one of the prisons in place in our country today.


Image Credit: ©cristina_conti – stock.adobe.com

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Time and Tide

Every once in awhile there is a break from the agony of lonely days, the pain of endless nights.

It might be the grumpy baby who looks at you and smiles. The friend who brings over some light bulbs she had in her closet; they don’t fit anything in her home, but would they work for that overhead fan you have? You’ve put off buying anymore of those bulbs because they burn out so quickly, yet these, these work…that room is no longer dark.

Perhaps, if you’re lucky, it’s a major break, something that will change the tide.

I’m ready for the tide to turn.


Photo © Pellini — Bigstock

I Want You Back

Ah Paco, I miss your little kitty breath. Yes, I have two wonderful kitties now, but you were older and needed your teeth cleaned more often to keep them fresh, so frankly, you had…kitty breath. It smelled like love.

I miss you so much sometimes it just hurts. You were my sweet baby, you saved my life when no one else was there to help. When, in the last months of your life, I needed you so desperately, you sacrificed for me again, and I’m in pain today knowing you were probably in pain then, and didn’t show it. I know better now. My two new babies won’t suffer like I fear you may have.

Paco (1)
Paco, my sweet baby

But those were the bad times. Mostly it was just day-to-day, me and Paco being best buds. I’d come home at night and you were at the door. When you were little you’d run out and I was scared you were going to run away, but instead you ran to the upstairs apartment, backing yourself into a corner. I’d pick you up and carry you home, you purrrrrrring all the way back.

Then you’d eat, and wow, you had an appetite. You got really fat, but when I tried to cut back, you were relentless in your pursuit of more food. It wasn’t worth it to me to try to hold out on you. Now I know better, and my two new kitties maintain a good diet, a good weight.

Despite that extra weight you never got diabetes or any of the other diseases related to weight gain in cats. You lived a good long life. I wanted you to live until you were 22; that was unrealistic, and you made it to 16.

Older Paco
All snuggled up

I miss you, the way you snuggled up to me and fell sound asleep, leaving me stranded on the sofa until you woke up because I didn’t want to disturb you. I miss the way you played with Mr. Green Satin Mouse on a String, your favorite toy. I haven’t been able to find another toy that durable for my new babies. We go through those fishing pole toys so fast!!

I miss you, I miss your kitty breath, I miss your little fashion spot on your front right leg and your little pink nose. I want you back and I know that can’t happen. I love my new babies, but you Paco, you were the cat of my heart.

Thank you for being there for me, and forgive me all my faults.

Any Good Book

When I was young, I would hurt sometimes so badly I would panic, then hide in my room, wrapped up tight in protective clothing, deep beneath the covers. I fled the pain I could not bear by burying myself in the stories told in multitudes of books.

Some stories so deeply resonated with me I read them over and over, and I realize now these tales provided a solution to the same loneliness and isolation I was feeling. It was fiction, of course, and I couldn’t follow the same path my erstwhile heroine would, so I lost myself in fantasy.

It was a lonely life, but a safe one.

Today I still like to lose myself in novels, but it isn’t the same. Life has taught me certain realities, and one of them is that rarely do events follow in a logical progression as they do in storytelling. Nor do problems resolve them in a straightforward manner.

Yet if the books don’t provide some sort of conclusion, I’m frustrated.  I still want to end with resolution. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending, but it should be a logical one. The story should be told.

I cannot flee my pain, but I can find respite from it in certain escapes, and I look for particular qualities in those methods of safety.

Read any good books lately?


Photo courtesy of Pixabay


Flee

The Threads of You

I finished unpacking last night. My house is a home, but the one thing missing is you. I hear your laugh, see your smile, admire your new haircut in the faces of strangers. I can’t stop for a gallon of milk without recognizing your loping walk in another. The weight of my loss holds me in place, and I silently protest the need to make dinner, open the mail, prepare for bed.

The phone rings, and my heart leaps. It isn’t you, and I let the call go. I don’t have the strength for a  conversation. I can’t explain one more time why. I might have to scream I don’t know.

You were woven so tightly throughout my life, and the threads of you reach farther than I imagined. I’m trying to patch the holes, but the pain stops me short.

I know you’re not coming back. I know it’s better for you now. I want the good times back and all the love those moments carried.

I’m missing you.

Multicolored Thread On A Weaving Loom Taken Closeup.


Image Credit: © Bigstock

Missing

All Who Are Weary, Eat

This Thanksgiving I’ll be with four other people who find themselves in much the same position I’m in: living in a city without family nearby to spend the holidays with. I have some cousins, second cousins, actually, living 20 or 30 minutes away, but seeing them would be much like seeing strangers.

I’ve had three invitations from local friends to join their family, and there’s a part of me that would like to have accepted their generosity. But truthfully, there’s a bigger part of me that looks forward to the time after the meal, when I come home and spend the time with my cats, knitting and watching classic movies.

I’ll enjoy my holiday, I have no doubt about it, both the time with friends and the time alone. I know two of the four people who will be sharing a meal with me; I believe I’ve met the other two but have barely spoken to them. Still, the two I do know are fun, and one of them in particular “gets” me. I’m free to be myself, quiet or goofy, whichever side comes out.

Growing up, I don’t really remember much about how we celebrated Thanksgiving. I believe we included friends who, like me today, have no family nearby with whom they can share the traditions and turkey, but I don’t remember any of them in particular.

me-mom-and-beth-thanksgiving-c-1997
Me, my mom and sister at Thanksgiving nearly 20 years ago, when I was living in Nashville, with no family nearby — they both flew out to see me. I still have that sweater…

I do remember, in my twenties, my mom and stepdad included a Russian couple and their grown daughter, and, for that matter, her fiancé (both were medical students, as I recall). Lisa, Misha and Olga were Russian Jews who had faced persecution under the Soviet Union, and they emigrated to the United States sometime while Olga was still fairly young. Misha, who had an advanced degree, was forced to take a job delivering pizza. Lisa was also highly educated, and she learned how to do nails to make a living. She did my mom’s nails; that was how they met.

It was appropriate to have immigrants at our Thanksgiving table. The tale we’re told of the first Thanksgiving is similar, with a group of European immigrants breaking bread with the Native Americans.

So as we celebrate with our family, friends, or by ourselves, let our thoughts include all those who face adversity in seeking a better, safer life. We cannot become complacent in the lives we lead. We must remember the sacrifices others made for us to give us what we have today, and be willing to open our doors to others who seek the same for the generations of their family to come.

God bless us, everyone.

 

Sweet Peas in a Pod

best-friends
At tbe end of the day, it’s good to have a best friend.

It took me a while to write this post. Sitting on the sofa, I was weighted down by my two furry friends, Walter and Mimi. Walter is the pretty boy on the bottom, Mimi the sweet little bean he’s resting his head on. Once they’re done sitting on my lap, they find each other.

I get lonely sometimes. When I look up and see their sweet faces, whether they are asleep, wide awake or peacefully purring with eyes half-open, I’m comforted. They find solace in my presence, too. As I head downstairs, they leap from their chairs and run down before me, putting themselves in position in the rooms below. They want my company, want to be near me. I have to twist and turn to accomodate them at night (Mimi in particular is a dead weight).

Forgive me the numerous posts about my cats lately. Rather, indulge me. It’s been a good month to ponder the uncomplicated, unconditional love of kitties.