The T.C. & Mama P Newsletter – First QTR, 2012      Free online at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,

It is with great exultation that we bring in 2012. Why? Well, because it means we all got through 2011. It also means that we have a lot to look forward to. There are lifers receiving parole grants and most of them are definitely going home. Jerry Brown is letting the Board of Prison Hearings do their job. Good ol‘ JB is OUR governor!

This year Mama ´P´ is once again going to appear before the BPH to seek a parole grant. There really isn‘t any legal reason for them to deny her parole. She will be represented by Elisabeth Peterson at that hearing, which will likely be held in October.

While her legal team is seeking parole, my team is seeking a new trial for myself. A Writ of Habeas Corpus is being filed at the first level as a form of appeal for relief. That level is the Superior Court that held our make believe trial. In a nutshell, my Public Pretender should have had me psychologically evaluated and probed an investigation once allegations of abuse were raised in testimony. Legally, she was obligated to provide me with an adequate defense, but she tied my hands and sealed my mouth. And, we all know that I‘ve found my voice and will not deny the past any longer. My fight could take months or over a year. It all depends on how far we need to take this battle.

In either scenario, 2012 holds hope for each of us. It also holds hope for the many lifers who have served well past their matrix. It costs far more to keep productive, aging, lifers in prison, that to release them to a second chance and allowing them to integrate back into society. We can assimilate. Really, we can. There may be a tad of culture shock after decades in captivity, but that is to be expected. Maybe JB can put The Happy in our New Year. Let us hope so.

Namasté

T.C. & Mama P

Help Is Available

For the many lifers reading this newsletter, I believe that knowledge is to be shared. As you strive to achieve whatever you can to impress the BPH, they really show favor to any self-help that you seek or accomplish. I want to help you add a little more ammunition to your arsenal for the battle ahead.

I already covered in previous newsletters, the vital necessity of insight into your crime, and that the BPH finds book reports on self-help programs available through correspondence efforts listed below.

Turning Point was created and is conducted, by ex-cons. They offer a total of 20 lesson plans in which you can earn a series of certificates. BPH favors this program.

Creative options offer Parenting, Anger Management, and other studies, also by way of correspondence. Like Turning Point, this one is free.

The PASS Program offers two semesters of courses on a variety of topics from Victim Awareness, Addiction, Domestic Violence, Conflict Resolution, and Re-entry into society, just to name a few of the ten topics. This program however, costs $500. What prisoner can afford that? If you can, I suggest that you enroll and get your achievement certification in Personal Psychological Development. Yes, BPH favors this too.

Turning Poing                                 Creative Options                              PASS Program

2049 S. Santa Fe Ave.                  P.O. Box 808                                       P.O. Box 2009

Los Angeles, CA 90021                                Lyons, OR 97358                               San Francisco, CA 94126

What It‘s Like For Me by Cora Lee Lee

It was a morning, like any other. I was on my way to my work assignment, saying hello to a good many women that I had said good night to about twelve hours before. It was like any other morning until the words I heard stopped me dead in my tracks. I must‘ve looked like a trapped animal with nowhere to turn. My mind was reeling. This wasn‘t how I wanted to start my day.

„Mrs. Cora! I was looking for you. I just got back from court and I rode up with your sister. Y‘all look just alike! She says she loves and misses you. She can‘t wait to come over the wall to see you.“ She. Can‘t. Wait. To see you.

This woman went on and on about mys sister, but all I could hear at that point, were my own thoughts. I was caught up in the thougth that this could not be and that I didn‘t really need this in my life. I mean, was I being punished? The idea that she was here – my sister – tightened my stomach and had my mind whirling with spontaneous anxiety. My entire being was distress. I acknowledged this woman‘s words, but my smile was feigned.

Before I go any further, let me stress that this is not one of those cute prison formed relationships. There‘s your prison mom, which you met here. She didn‘t give birth to you, nor did you know each other in the free world. So, there‘s prison mom, or sister. Then, there‘s the real deal. Bloodline. The sister in question here is my bloodline. That makes a world of difference. And unless you‘re a lifer or long-termer doing time, and you have a family member in prison with you, I doubt you can say you know how it feels, even if you empathize.

I‘ve been down a decade now with ten more years to go. It‘s been a struggle to take care of myself and survive. Each day may seem the same, but sometimes there are challenges. For instance, the cells hold eight women, but more often than not, at least ten or more personalites. Prison is a stressful place. I will not sugar coat it. And people have a really nice way of getting on your last nerve … without ever trying. So, who needs the added stress of, „Hey, your sister is here, and she wants to see you?“

Please don‘t misunderstand me … I love my sister. What I don‘t like, is that she did the same thing to me that other people have done. You see, this isn‘t her first trip to prison, it is her second. On her first round, she made parole promises of how she‘ll never forget what prison is really like, and she‘d be there for me once she got home. Parole promises includes taking pictures and sending not only photos, but money and writing regularly. A parole knows all too well that prison is a lonely place that can make a heart feel desolate and empty inside. Parolees know that mail call is a lifeline to the outside world and it takes money to survive in here. The chowhall food is inedible, they don‘t provide adequate clothing for the inclement weather, and they consider indigent status to be one dollar or less. If you have one penny over a dollar yes one lousy dollar, then you‘re not considered indigent. You can‘t even buy two bars of soap for one dollar, let alone the necessary hygine items for the mouth. My sister knew this. She experienced this. And then, she left me with false promises and a broken heart, for I fel abandoned and forsaken. I have had my share of phony parolee promises made to my face, only to become added disappointment in the reality of prison life. I just didn‘t expect it from my own flesh and blood.

Two years in society may feel like, well, two years. Ah, but a couple of years at CCWF can feel like double that. Yet, here she is two years lated, „I‘m back!“ Yes, back and disarrayed from the life she chose out there to be in the predicament she is in now. Back at CCWF looking worn from the wear of her decisions. However, while she‘s been gone, I‘ve been working diligently on myself to be reassimilated back into society. As I watch women return to prison over and over again, I strive to get out. It‘s insulting when they act like it is funny, yet I scratch my head with a WTF look on my face. They act as if they just don‘t care about their freedom. Well, I care about mine, and I‘ve come to not only learn, but to accept, that I‘m doing this trip alone. I‘m the one who‘s working on me. I‘ve been really steady about avoiding the many distructions that can impede progress … and then my head was spinning at the news of the arrival of my sister.

I do not receive halftime credits. I am working everyday to one day to be free. In the meantime, I join others to fight for the rights of women, and to battle Battered Woman Syndrome. Lifers and long-termers fight to be freed, yet parolees find humor in „I‘m baaaack!“ Like T.C. says – it‘s a slap in the face of freedom. And it breaks our hearts, because all we want is a chance to get back out there to our loved ones, and not see the inside of these walls again. That‘s all we want. We work tirelessly toward that goal.

So, taking all of that into consideration, what does it feel like to see a loved one come to prison? It hurts deep down inside. It hurts so deeply that you want to go into the shower and cry your eyes out. That‘s really the only place that is semi-private in which you can go for a personal bawl release. You want to just let it out before it dominates you. It hurts folks. It hurts like hell.

So, for all of you sisters and mothers, cousins and nieces and so on, please do not feel offended by my bluntness and honesty. We would rather that you‘re in a world that we are painstakingly working hard to return to, that for you to be a number behind these walls. That‘s why they offer a visiting room for us to meet. The free world is where we both need to be … where I long to be. And that is where I want to be reunited with my loved ones without anyone telling us that our time is up. If you‘re reading this from the free world, stay there. I hope to not be too much longer. Don‘t give up on me. And Sis, I love you. Thank you for your blessing to share this message. You never know who needed to hear it.

Anything Is Possible

When I was just a kid, I never really considered what I would do with my future. I think I was just hoping I‘d have one. I think the first time I considered my future was when the recruiters made their rounds my senior year in high school.

I almost did it, you know. I almost signed the final document that was the equivelent of selling my soul to Uncle Sam. Now, don‘t get me wrong. I love my country. My heart bleeds red, white, and blue. I support your troops. I even pledge allegiance to a flag I have hung over my cell door. God, she‘s beautiful. However, if I joined, it would have been too final.

The Army. I nearly joined the Army after being fed that bogus storyline about how my best friend and I could go in on the Buddy Program. Why Army? I wanted to be all I could be. Well, to be honest … Navy was out because I‘m water challenged, and the recruiter fed us lines about traveling to exotic lands, meeting new and different people, and trying new and unusual foods. I raised an eyebrow. Foods? I love food, but nothing still alive staring up at me, and nothing slimy. I despise slimy.

I didn‘t sign the document. Not only because I knew he was insulting my intelligence about the Buddy System, but because I would have joined for the wrong reason. It wouldn‘t have been for love of country, but necessity of escapism from my childhood at home. But, my core reason was that I didn‘t think I was capable of killing complete strangers. I just never really liked guns anyway.

Well, look at me now! I‘m on my 23rd year of captivity in the death of my stepfather. I never could have predicted this at 18 years old. I‘d have told you that you‘re crazy if you thought I could take a life. Anything is possible.

Stuff doesn‘t just happen. People make it happen by choices, decisions, and actions. Right about now I wish I was in some third world country eating something slimy, because slimy is better than this. Howevere, like everyone else here, I made a choice and I‘m living with it. But, do you know what? This place has helped me to be all I can be. The government still got me, but I probably would‘ve been more productive in the Army.

Moral of the story? Choose wisely. Your future depends on it.

Comfort Care Where? By: La Donna Robinson, A CCWF Hospice Volunteer

I have spent nearly every Monday night for the past four years, and eleven (11) months, in the Skilled Nursing Facility in the CCWF Treatment Center. I am a Comfort Care Hospice Volunteer, and I would be lying if I said that the comfort and the care are always present.

The Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) is a scary, lonely place to be. Many have passed on from there to a better world. Of course it is never easy to see one of our own die from an incurable illness. We silently pray that it doesn‘t ever happen to us, hope that they die a painless death, and sit patiently in wait until they pass to the other side.

These women are often referred to as „The Forgotten“, as some of them have never been seen by those in the General Population area of the prison, and are often not included in the special event s provided by the institution. Some are wheelchair bound, and some simply can not leave the SNF because immediate medical attention must be readily available should something go wrong. I know for a fact that just because they are forgotten by some, does not mean they are forgotten by all.

The General Population inmates pulled together and provided many personal items for Christmas presents for these ladies. There were hats and scarves (it is usually cold in SNF to aid in the reduction of germs), hygiene items, stationery and stamps, and much more. The G.P. inmates went out of their way to ensure that these ladies knew they were in our hearts during the holidays.

The SNF is not what it once was, and as with anywhere and anyone; one bad apple shouldn‘t spoil the whole bunch. Of course there may sometimes be a nurse who is having a bad day, or doesn‘t exactly like the idea of sharing her space with inmates, but for the most part, our sisters in the SNF are treated with loving care. When they aren‘t they make sure it is known so that we, together with the staff, can make it a more comfortable place for them. After all, for most of the women in SNF, it is a permanent home. Our job as Comfort Care members is to provide exactly what the name says; Comfort and Care. We are not junior nurses and it is never our intent to compete with the medical staff, or to dole out advice to patients. It is only our intent to ensure that our sisters who are often left excluded, do not die alone in a place designed to prepare for death.

I thank the women of the General Population for supporting the Comfort Care Memebers in our endeavor. They are always waiting with a kind word, or a question about their peers who they seldom see, but hear of quite often. You too, are appreciated, and your concern, prayers, and efforts to not go unnoticed.

Sincerely,

La Donna Robinson

A Letter To God

Dear God,

I‘ve had my heart broken with the loss of a friend who never hurt me like other have. He was one of the few men that I could feel comfortable being alone with. He never betrayed my trust or took my kindness for granted. He never abandoned me when it felt like the world had come crashing down. He never made me feel unnatural, although I was more of a square in his round peg world. His heart was always true.

I know that for all of us, our time on earth is temporary. I accept that you cross our paths with others for purposes we may often not be privvy to. When you crossed my path with Wolf‘s, you not only blessed my life, you filled a void in my heart. In the aftermath of my arrest over 22 years ago, he stood by me and the though of abandoning me was unthinkable. Just like the true nature of his name, he was loyal, protective, and one of Your most precious gifts to this world. Although our time on earth is temporary, love knows no boundaries … at least not in my heart.

Lord, thank You for the years that I was blessed with Wolf as my friend, teacher, and Big Brother. He accepted my contrasting lifestyle and joked that I was a big marshmallow on the inside. He was 100% of a 1%. He was betrayed and left for dead, but eventually found Carley, the love of his life. God, how she filled the emptiness of his broken heart. I don‘t know if she‘ll ever know how much he loved her, but she was his everything. She‘s probably the only reason he fought so long to stay in this world, but his time ran out, the road ended, and he left us. Our hearts are broken, but thank You for the many years that You blessed each of us with Wolf.

It was my hope to enjoy Burger King and wine coolers with him again. It would have been nice to just sit together and acknowledge that we each survived this long journey. While it saddens me to not have that opportunity, it disheartens me to think of all of the people who never had what I had with Wolf. All of those people who never knew him. Boy did they miss out!

Lord, do You think You can be a little patient with him? He‘s been separated from his Harly and his pit bull for quite a long time. He‘s going to want to enjoy both for awhile. He may be a little late to Orientation.

Thank You for the years, the memories. Thank You for the kinship, the relationship that was stronger than my own bloodline. It hurts to lose him, but I trust he‘s in good hands. Oh, and can You please tell him that he still owes Shorty ride down Calaveras Road? Thanx.

Endless Love,

Your Daughter,

Teresa Christine

Shout Out!

If there are any inmates reading this that want to contribute with an essay, opinion editorial, or share thoughts, experience, or give readers something to ponder about, talk to T.C.

Yep, I‘m the easiest person to locate. We all have something worthy to contribute. Sometimes, we just need to be invited to step atop the platform and let ourselves be heard. Don‘t worry if you‘re not the best writer. I will gladly proof and polish anything considered for print.

Crime After Crime Available on DVD

Deborah Peagler, AKA Tripp, had a story that needed to be told. By doing so, it may save lives. Yoav Potash documented Tripp’s life into a film that is now available on DVD. The documentary tells of her legal battle to seek freedom after being sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison. I have shared her story and release in this newsletter before, as I also sadly informed of her death due to stage IV lung cancer. Tripp did not die in prison. She had nine awesome months of pure freedom before she lost her final battle, but she embraced each and every moment knowing that God smiled upon her.

I want you to know my friend. I want you to hear her story, from her perspective. Please support this film by going to www.crimeaftercrime.com and ordering a copy and watching it. I cannot stress it enough; You need to hear her story, which involved perjury evidence and prosecutorial misconduct. Think you know the legal system? This film will get you to think twice.

And She Calls us the Criminals!

Ever heard the term, “who’s minding the store?” Yeah, well, it goes to question who is in charge of who or what. Inmates have been saying for years that half of the psychologists in the prison system need a shrink themselves. I recall Dr. Majid, not sure of exact spelling. I called him Disco Daddy in reference to his unprofessional misconduct. He wore his wildly colored satin shirts open to mid-chest with his dark curly chest hair exposed within numerous gold chain necklaces. They had this creepy looking fellow conducting a sexual abuse survivor group in which he allowed one girl in particular to expose herself two sessions in a row. The only reason he prevented a third attempt was because the other women complained of being victimized by her aggressive attention seeking behaviorism. Oh, and I should mention he was eventually fired for of all things, sexual misconduct.

Then enters the picture of questionable antics of social behaviorism, Courie Ann Martinez. She is a CDCR Senior Psychologist Supervisor. Her employment duties included overseeing a team of clinicians at CSP in Sacramento, AKA New Folsom. That team treated inmates with mental issues, but I’m not certain if she had any rules in documents that may have influenced the Parole Board’s denial to any lifers. It is possible at the very least, given her title of authority.

In April 2011, Martinez had used sandpaper to rub raw her hands, torn her blouse to expose her breasts, had her friend punch her in the face wearing boxing gloves, and cut her own lip with a pin. She then called 911 to report that she had been beaten, raped, and robbed. She even urinated on herself to appear that she had been beaten unconscious. It was rather convincing.

Why would she do all of that? To set-up someone? No, not even close. Martinez wanted to manipulate her husband into moving to a safer neighborhood. Yes, this all concocted to get hubby to move out of their Sacramento home to a place more desirable. I’ve seen women in prison do some pretty ridiculous things to get a bed move, but Martinez really outdid herself. She may have even gotten the idea from an inmate who actually needed to be relocated for protective custody due to a sexual attack. Martinez, her friend, and two co-workers told police of the scheme in December 2010, resulting in the arrest of Martinez and her friend, Nicole Snyder. They are charged with criminal conspiracy.

So, in the end, Martinez has lost the respect of her colleagues, once convicted, will lose her job, and she also lost her husband who filed for divorce upon finding out of her scandalous play acting. It also makes on question just who is watching who in the prison system. Ain’t it nice to know where your tax dollars are going, though?

“Why Didn’t She Just Leave Him?”

“Why didn’t you just leave him?” is a question that many victims of sexual abuse are asked by people who don’t know any better than to ask that question. Anyone who hasn’t been abused cannot possibly understand what it is truly like to be a victim. They can empathize to a significant degree, but to truly know what it is like is not possible. I can read of a soldier’s experience in wartime, but I will never know what it’s like to be under enemy fire like that. Sadly, you had to have experienced it to know the depth of ignorance in a question like, “Why didn’t you just leave him?”

There are hundreds of women in the California prison system that couldn’t leave their abuser, or may have tried to, only to face the wrath of no mercy. My mother is one of those women. She knew that leaving my stepfather was the unthinkable act of suicide. There were a few times when she could care less about her own safety, but had to contemplate the consequences to my sister and myself. Abusers are skilled at brainwashing their victims into believing that they are worthless, uneducated, and most importantly, that “If you leave me, it’s the last thing you’ll ever do.” You see, they make leaving an option equivalent to death.

From the time that she was born, My mother never stood half a chance. She was passed from one abuser to the next, right up to her second marriage to my stepfather. I asked her why she didn’t leave him. I didn’t know better at the time. She did her best to explain that she loved him, and that she’d be lost without him. In the next breath she would tell me of his threats to not let her leave him. It’s all very confusing for both the victim and those who love them and want to help them to a safe place, wherever that may be.

The threats were real. So was the abuse she suffered. It was all as real as the black eye that George and Rick testified to seeing, and the bruises that spotted the canvas of her body …  an ugly portrait of domestic violence.

From time to time, I’ll hear someone say that they can rest assured that their children are safe with family while the prisoner does their sentence. Yeah, okay, but 93% of the time it is someone that the child loves and trusts that betrays and violates them. Do we ask children why they didn’t just leave the home or circumstances? No, of course we don’t. That would be irrational and insensitive. They are vulnerable and easy prey, as are victims of any abuse, regardless of age. Abusers attack those who appear to be, or are simply vulnerable. The victim doesn’t see escape as an option without dire consequences.

Picture if you will, an elderly man who runs the corner liquor store. It’s been robbed three times in the last two years. It’s always possible that on any given day, he could be robbed again. He could even lose his life in a robbery. So, why doesn’t he just close up shop? It’d be safer to not stay, right? He stays because he loves the store and he hopes that it won’t happen again. And even if it does, nobody looks at him like he’s stupid for staying, or tells him he brought it on himself by not leaving.

Why didn’t she just leave my stepfather? Well, for one she loved him for who he used to be, and hoping he’d stop being who he had become. She stayed because I never told her that he sexually abused me for so many years. She didn’t leave because she had been a kept woman all of her life and was always under the thumb of a male dominant figure from childhood. She kept hanging on to the hope that it had already gotten worse and that it  was time for it to better. My mother had no self-esteem in her tank and believed him when he told her she’d never make it without him. My mother didn’t leave him, because she didn’t know that she could, and she certainly did not know how.

If you know someone that is being abused by someone they love, don’t ask why they don’t leave. Be a friend and ask, “What can I do to help?” For someone in mom’s shoes, just offer your heart, and the rest comes naturally.

… But I‘m Okay

As a child I did not know,

Any better than I do now.

I wanted to escape my path,

I just didn‘t know how.

There are times I can feel his fingers,

Wrapped tightly around my throat.

Most times he cannot reach me,

For I hold onto hope.

In the early seps of recovery,

I felt adrift like flotsam.

I had no idea that,

This day would ever come.

It may not always be easy,

But I know the Survivors battle cry.

We will not raise the white flag,

And our spirit will never die!

It‘s been a long, long, road,

The journey a struggle now and then.

But, I‘m not that once fractured victim,

And I‘ll never be her again.

I breathe in hope with faith,

Seeing the brightest color on the palest day.

God, it feels so good to be alive!

The past left its mark, but I‘m okay.

From The Heart

I want to tell you a story about a little boy named Joey. I‘ve written of this experience in my memoir as well as in personal correspondence. In the process of writing this newsletter, the memory of Joey crossed my mind as I felt his footprints run across my heart. I‘d like to believe that is God‘s way of telling me that the story needs to be told again. So, here we go.

It was about December 1982. I had gone to Yosemite with several of my co-workers, and my best friend, Lori. I was only 18 years old. We had one of those heated cabins in Curry Village in the valley floor not far from the infamous Yosemite Falls. The cabins were meant for no more than four people, but there were five of us in the cramped space. All was good on the first night until somebody lit a cigarette in the cabin. I couldn‘t breathe. For anyone that knows my history, cigarette smoke is a trigger for me. It messes with me mentally and emotionally, puttin me back into the backseat of my stepfather‘s 1964 chevy. In 1982 I had still concealed my secret, and my co-workers didnt know better. Lori knew the trigger was somehow related to my stepfather, but never pushed me for too many details. She knew enough to not attempt to stop me from charging out the door of the cabin into the snow. And as a friend, she knew to not let me go out into the dark alone. She grabbed our jackets and joined me.

Once outside, I was able to breathe again. I couldn‘t tell her why it happened, but she saw the relief on my face. I began to walk toward the parking lot and edge of the tree line. Our feet left deep impressions in the packed snow; I could feel the cold through my hiking boots. She asked where I was going, and I honestly did not know. I simply felt moved to keep walking, and so she walked beside me.

As we came to the edge of the lot, that‘s when I heard it. I didn‘t know what I was hearing at first, so I asked Lori to be quiet so I could listen. Being that she knew my nature to play practical jokes, she insisted that I not do so out in the dark of night in the woods. She was picturing Jason and Michael Mayers in those slasher films. I insisted that I was serious. I held my finger to my lips, and that‘s when she heard it too. Crying. We heard somebody crying. We walked around the trees into the parking lot and that‘s when we saw him. He was about eight years old and all alone. My heart broke.

He looked up at us, two strangers looking down at him. He was croushed beneath a tree, surrounded by bushes. It was as if he were hiding. I knew from experience that hiding doesn‘t always work, and I feared what he my be hiding from. I introduced myself, crouching to his level. It took all of a few seconds to get him to trust us. That made me grateful that it was us that found him, and not someone else more sinister.

He told us his name was Joey. He had left the cabin that his family was staying in, because his parents had begun to argue. They argued a lot. Joey felt responsible for this particular argument because he knew why they were fighting. Apparently, it was his birthday, and he could go werever he wanted for his birthday. He chose Yosemite, but that‘s not what his father wanted. His parents were arguing over where his father felt they should have gone, while his mother defended Joey‘s choice. I almost didn‘t know what to say. Almost.

I got Joey to stand up and walk with us to the ice rink at the other end of the dark parking lot. The area was well lit, and there were lots of people around. His parents had to have noticed him gone. If they begin a search anywhere, my best guess was that they‘d go to the rink and ranger‘s office. I recall looking around the lot that could‘ve held danger for any child, especially one as distraught as Joey. Our paths crossed for a reason. He was shivering, so I gave him my jacket.

When we reached the rink a short time later, Joey walked directly to a space where a controlled fire sparked flames of warmth. He sat before the fire, his small hands up, palms flat toward the flames. My eyes scanned the area, but not a single park employee in sight. The ranger office was closed until morning. Joey took his little blue gloves off to feel the fire‘s heat more directly. We sat and talked about how he felt bad that his parents were fighting, and Lori and I kept telling him that it wasn‘t his fault. I must‘ve thought of my own stepfather. By that time I had learned that my parent‘s arguments were not my fault.

After a short while before the fire, and with Lori‘s not being able to locate any staff personnel, we decided to walk Joey back to his cabin. We weren‘t two sure of what to do, but his parents would certainly want him back, right? We couldn‘t take him to our cabin, we couldn‘t find a ranger and we certainly couldn‘t leave him abandoned in the night. We headed for the cabins, hoping we weren‘t going to make matters worse for an eigh-year-old boy.

Near the edge of the lot as you enter into the treeline, was a line of logs that encircled the boundary. The whole area was slushy from melting snow and mud mix. I had Joey climb on my back as I carried him piggyback across the slush and up the hill. In the distance we heard voices, but jubled together, shouting. The we heard it clearly, „Joey! Joey!“ being shouted by a woman‘s hysterical voice. He got excited, explaining that the woman was his mother. As we came up the hill a little more, we could see her in the snow, not knowing which way to search. He yelled directly into my ear, „Mom!“ I bent to let him slide off of my back, and he ran through the snow to reach her. What a sight! They embraced, and my smile suddenly faded when I saw him. The father. Lori and I made our way towards them and explained where we found him and that there weren‘t any rangers to contact or notify the parents. I explained that the though it was his fault that anyone may not have been happy that night. They embraced him together, telling heim what we told him: children are not responsible for the actions of an adult, no matter what the circumstances.

Joey‘s parents thanked us for returning their son safely to them. Before parting ways, his mother handed me my jacket, and thanked me again before we all called it a night.

The next morning, as we stepped outside of our cabin, we noticed Joey and his family leaving the park. They were far off in the distance, but they had their belongings in hand, just reaching the lot. I hoped in my heart that he would have a safe journey, both home and in life. Lori stood beside me and watched as the wather warmed the care up to leave. It was chilly, and I dug my hands into my jacked pockets, and I felt it. The soft yarn of Joey‘s little blue gloves were shoved into my pockets. He had put them there while around the fire. As I removed them, the car pulled from the lot, and I clenched those gloves, putting them back into my pocktes.

My path crossing with Joey‘s wasn‘t by chance, but by the grace of God. That little boy didn‘t just leave his gloves in my pockets, he left his name in my heart. I see that face from time to time when the cold forms in winter. I see that dark curly hair and tender eyes filled with tears. I see pure innocence. Every now and then, his little feet run across my heart and remind me that tenderness and humanity are the greatest gifts wrapped in love that we can give to the world. He also reminded me that in childhood, we are all innocent. All of us. Yes, even me. That little eight year old boy is an adult now. I often wonder how he is, where he is, what life delivered him in spiet of his home life. And I pray for him. Still, to this day, I pray for Joey.

I kept those gloves in a safe place clear up to the day of my arrest in 1989. The were blue with white snowflakes on them. They were a memory of one day when my humanity and compassion where tested. They were a reminder of a child‘s innocence.

So, I say from the heart to you … You dont have to wait for a child to be lost to show your own sense of humanity or compassion. You do not need to wait for an invitation to participate in an endeavor of the heart – just go find a cause that could use two more hands, and get involved. There‘s no need to wish you could make a difference, just go out and do it. There are soldiers returning from Iraq and elsewhere. Show them that you love them as much as they love their country. Don‘t know were to begin? Contact your local V.A. Hospital, and ask what you can do to help. There are millions of people who could benefit from a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, just someone to talk to. It could be a stranger, or someone as close as home. From the heart, I cannot say it enough, a little love goes a long, long, ways. Just imagine if we all did it together. Yes, what a beautiful, beautiful world!

Always From The Heart

T.C. & Mama ´P´

T.C. Paulinkonis                                                                                             Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis

W45118 514-16-4U                                                                                       W45120 514-16-41

PO Box 1509                                                                                                    PO Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610                                                                                  Chowchilla, CA 93610

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