Father Wounds Lay Deep (Part Four)

It was two weeks until I would be married.  I thought of my dad sitting in jail...


Just five years earlier I rode with my brother along the I-10 corridor.  Billboards shouting at me.  Low income houses lined the freeway with dirt in place of grass as the backyard.  I made small talk with my brother as I awaited that first visit.

I didn't know what exit we'd be taking to get there.  I thought the jail was removed from all civilization.  Then, the trucks blinker went on & veered off just before hitting downtown Phoenix.  The side road seemed like an eternity, when suddenly we turned left into a rather long entrance. 

Everything was dun like the desert scenery.  Willy parked the truck.  We crossed the road & entered into a small waiting room.  It was the size of some rich person's walk-in closet; except, it wasn't filled with clothes & shoes.  It was packed with family members awaiting to see their loved one. They were primarily mothers & grandmothers, some children & wives.  Small lockers lined the left-hand wall with one small bench to sit. 

Those spots were taken.

The deputy sat behind a bullet-proof window opposite the entrance door. 

Willy had briefed me about not having any wallet, purse, jewelry, keys, pencils, pens--nothing on my person.  He told me there would be a locker to place any valuables in. 

"What about when we go in?  What happens then?" I asked.

"We'll walk through metal detectors.  Dad will be sitting at a table & we'll sit across from him," he replied.

"What if I break a rule?," I asked. (I was so nervous I would break a rule & the guards would take me down)

"The officers will let you know of the rules & they'll be posted on the wall, " he assured me.


On my seventh birthday I remember thinking how terrified I was to be sitting at the mission in Yuma, staring at a bunch of men who looked like the last time their skin touched soap was before Reagan took office.  They scared me.  I sat behind my dad on the bench & they all sat on the pews facing me. My dad gave the message that night.


As I watched the families waiting to be called to see their loved ones, I wondered how many times they had done this?  Was their son a repeat offender?  Was their husband or boyfriend at the wrong place, at the wrong time?  Were they working hard, pulling double shifts to support their family & put money on their inmate family member's books? 

What I did know was skin color didn't matter there.  Or fear of someone judging me, my brother, or my dad, because we all had compassion for one another.  There was a nod & a look which communicated, "Your stories are safe with me." 


It would soon be time for Willy & me to walk through the detectors & find my dad in a black & white chain gang uniform.  It was like I was seven all over again, except my dad was sitting in the pews.


My wedding was two weeks away & I was nervous, because I didn't know if my story, my dad's story...would be safe with everyone in attendance.

Continue to Father Wounds Lay Deep (Part Five)


You can read the previous writings found below:

Father Wounds Lay Deep (Part One)

Father Wounds Lay Deep (Part Two)

Father Wounds Lay Deep (Part Three)