T Minus 63 and Counting.....

That's how many days are left until Cliff becomes a free man. Well, sort of free. He'll be paroled and then Cliff will find out what his requirements will be.

Cliff is making his plans and most of them seem sound and attainable. He's heard about some possible job leads. His cellmate, a man of 65, has been incarcerated since he was 28 years old. No chance for parole. Murder. But he has children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that visit him on occasion. His mother is still alive and they communicate regularly. It seems as a young man, Grandpa ran with a troubling crowd and "took care" of a few people. His life, now with regret, will be lived out behind those cement walls forever.

When Cliff was first assigned to this cellmate I was anguishing inside. I tried to stay busy so I wouldn't wring my hands, but I know my intestines were curling up just at the thought of this situation. Cliff had violated probation more than a few times and as a repeat offender became Level 2 in the system. Level 1 is sort of like a fraternity~they play cards all the time and make plans to meet again when they "bust outta the joint." But in Level 2, many inmates know that this is going to be home for a long time, perhaps forever. Things aren't pleasant and rosy. In one phone conversation we had, it was very clear that Cliff learned to lay low, not join up with to many other inmates and to always be on guard. He said being immature would get him stabbed. More comforting words were never spoken.

Now the days are passing by so swiftly for me but most certainly like molasses for Cliff. It's all based on our own persepctive, isn't it? Cliff has a job lead from Grandpa who knows some legitimate business men. Somehow through his early life he's been affiliated with some respected names in our part of the world. Grandpa's also been quite grandfatherly to Cliff and said he wants him to have the life he should have lived and to never see or hear that he's back behind bars again. He's encouraged Cliff to find out about school and has consistenly urged him to move forward in his life.

My view of Grandpa has changed over time. I find now that I often ask Cliff how Grandpa's doing and about his family. I pray for Grandpa often. I can't imagine what it would be like to NEVER leave a place like that. His mother is in her 80's and has had some health concerns. It saddens me to think that when she leaves this world, Grandpa cannot have his goodbye with her in the familiar ways of life. That happened somewhere long ago in a court room.

Now the days are counting down and the pieces of the puzzle are scattered about, waiting to be put in their proper place. The final placement of these pieces is up to Cliff.

I'm guardedly optimistic, fervently hopeful in prayer.