Comforting Words

Two other mothers I know were talking with me yesterday about their sons, also currently incarcerated for lifestyle choices demanded by addiction. You'd think by now, that someone in our governing hierarchy would see that treating addiction at an early age without punishment might be a deterrent. Ahh....off on a tangent, I am!

So, in our conversation, the Moms and I were discussing the "programs" that were deemed necessary in order for these men, our sons, to be considered eligible for parole. First, they had to hold a job within the prison system. Second, classes with homework had to be attended for educating the addict/alcoholic regarding their diseases. This was a two part class, Phase 1 and Phase 2. Third, AA classes were also to be part of their weekly routine. I listened to Mother number one as she talked of the frustration regarding these requirements to the simple fact that her son is on a "waiting list" for EVERYTHING. Mother number two concurred. I felt an overwhelming sigh of relief.

Why? Because every time Cliff and I have spoken, I have asked about his work, or lack thereof. He would constantly tell me how many times he kited for available jobs, kited to be put on waiting lists for AA and kited about starting a Phase 2 class. Phase 1 ended abruptly as the instructor was either discharged or quit; Cliff has heard rumors both ways. Nevertheless, those who had completed and turned in all their assignments were given a "completion" for Phase 1 and were put on the list for Phase 2. What Mother number one did for me, was reduce the little bit of uneasiness I would experience each time Cliff and I talked about his inactivity in prison. I was told and hoping that in prison he would be getting a few life skills preparing him for the real world when he's paroled.

Think again, Mom.

Fortunately for Cliff's sake, he has decided to set up his own plans for his release. He was granted parole as he met all the qualifications the best he could. In the past doing his best wouldn't fly but the prisons in Michigan are so overcrowded they don't have the staff to provide the classes, nor the jobs available. Parole would have been instantly denied no matter what the reason was for non-completing those outlined requirements.

Cliff starts each day with physical fitness, keeps his space orderly and his clothing neat and clean. They do keep an eye on that much. He's stayed totally out of trouble, no gambling over card games, no fights with other inmates and has tested negative for every single drug test that's been given. He's had little to no money in his account to barter for anything that might allow him to mask the results of a drug test. He's beginning a mentoring program with a man from my church which will continue upon Cliff's release. In a recent conversation he told me that he's grown up a lot this year. The better part of that, though, is I hear it in our conversation.

Mom number one and two soothed my uneasiness that Cliff was pulling one over on me by saying that he kites constantly and gets nowhere. I'm always keeping my eyes and ears open for any possibility of being taken advantage of again. I hope and pray for the day that I can take Cliff at his word and never wonder if it's the truth. That, however, is in Cliff's court and only time will bridge that gap.

I'll be a'waitin!