One of the most humbling things about having my husband in jail (for fourteen months and one week), was that I was in a place and with people society has labeled as bad. I sure agree with the “place” part, jail is not for pansies. But the people I met along the way were varied and interesting.
We met musicians, pro football players, business men, drug dealers, cowboys, Indians and one poor schmuck, I mean kid, who downloaded bootleg movies from the internet and got 6 months. Be warned.
Christmas was challenging for our younger kids as it appeared that Santa and Mrs. Claus were making out near the vending machines. Like I said, it was not for the faint of heart. We met people from all faiths, those practicing and those who wished they’d followed a little straighter path in life, and we saw tattoos applied by professionals as well as those crafted in prisons all over the country. Federal prison camp is a veritable melting pot.
Not only did we have the pleasure of experiencing what’s known as a “walk away”, but Aaron spent a month in the Detention Center (it’s a holding facility), with its razor wire and 23 hour a day lock down, as well as a few unfortunate days in the “Medium High”. I have to admit that the latter seemed to house a rougher crowd. Even the guards seemed more hardcore.
The part of humanity that was consistent throughout all these adventures was the women.
While Aaron was on his “Sojourn” to “Prisneyland”, I was the head of the women’s organization in our church. I was a sort of women’s clergy, if you will. I worked with a team of remarkable women. You can imagine that it seemed ironic to have the President (as it is called) of the organization have her husband in jail, but through the four years I served, I never once caught a glimmer of judgment from the women I worked with. Neither my team of three other women, nor the women we worked with on a daily basis. All were accepting. All were kind with their service and respectful of me. Public, giant warts and all.
Not only were these church going girls wonderful, but what humbled and astonished me were the “jail wives” themselves.
When you go to a prison for men, the people waiting in line to visit them are women. Mothers, wives, sisters, girlfriends. When you go to a prison for women? Same thing. Sisters, mothers and friends. They were there supporting their loved ones, but even more amazing was the support they gave to one another. I write that sentence, and I realize that in a way I have distanced myself. But the truth is that WE supported each other.
We stood in lines and we taught the new kids in town how to fill out the forms and what to wear to get through the metal detectors (the answer to that is sports bras). We gave each other change for the vending machines and one very distinguished older lady pulled her high end sedan over on the side of the road when she recognized me and thought I was having car trouble.
One of my favorite people in the world I met in jail. Sista Jones, as she is known in our home, is a young, wise and fun loving woman who generously, painfully, and laboriously supported her man through their nightmare. She really is my sister.
I’ve mentioned my sketchy history with teachers, and the truth is, I’ve met some pretty dangerous women. But right along with that is a reverence for them, for us. I am humbled by the service I’ve received at their hands. I am in awe of the strength of the so called “weaker sex”. I am very proud to be one of them
“Here’s to good women,
may we know them,
may we be them,
may we raise them.”