Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Forgive Me

This morning I got a letter from my jailed deaf dad in which he threatens to commit suicide or hurt a guard or prisoner so he can get put in Ad Seg or be killed.

I haven't written Dad since June. Not the longest I've gone without writing, but longer than I'd like. He had written me a letter that was inexplicably returned and so I hadn't heard from him either. That is, until my 5th wedding anniversary when I received his awesome handmade card and three letters: the original that had been returned to him and two others. In the original, he slanders my mom. I won't go into details as his stories are never to be believed entirely. He's like the National Enquirer: there are elements of truth underlying in his tales mixed with exaggeration or bald faced lies. His other two letters expressed some regret in sharing the info and saying he needed to get the gorilla off his back. (A gorilla? That is a lot to carry around!)

As with all his letters, there were numerous things he wanted (Phil Steele's College Football Preview) and answers he needed (What are rhinoceros horns made of?)*. Add the three letters together and I had two pages worth of a To Do list for him. So I procrastinated. Hey, I'm busy and he could stand to sweat a little if he's feeling guilty. He's done worse things that he's shown no remorse for like, say, I don't know... attacking my mom?!

Time got away and today is three months since I've written him. He's panicked, worried sick that I'm angry with him for the things he wrote. "Kambri, I do not want losing you I am going crazy if I lost you my daughter. Please forgive me. Can you forgive me? Will you forgive me? I am scared...I do not want to be living here if no money or no letter from you."

Words. He wants me to forgive him about some words he wrote that came from his heart during a time of stress. Interesting. I'm going to remind him of this moment after my book comes out.

In all my life, this is the first time he's asked me to forgive him of anything. I feel sad and guilty that he's so isolated and freaking out about not knowing how I am or what I'm feeling. But I'm also dumbfounded. I have forgiven him of far worse transgressions. Does he not realize that?

The thing is, about the stuff he wrote? I didn't care. I'm more bothered that I turned 40 and he never sent me a card. I'm gonna really rake him over the coals for that one. If only he were in the Free World I could play upon his guilt to get some awesome gift out of it. If only...

*Rhino horns are made of keratin, the same protein that makes up hair and nails. Weird.


Bishop Atkinson said...

I hope that he hasn't harmed himself and is ok (well, you know as much as he can be in prison). Sorry he failed to send you a card, too. That's surprising since he makes cards and sends you his artwork. Your writing abilities amaze me! I should have paid more attention in English class. Take care.

Kambri Crews said...

Thanks, lady. I was really disappointed to have not received a birthday card. Especially since it was my 40th. But my birthday coincided with the date of that original letter in which he was spewing hateful things about my mom. So, I'm guessing, he was angry and not thinking straight.

Dianrez said...

Kambri, he's a different sort and thinks differently, so everything he does is designed to keep you in communication (and giving) to him. Even so, there is a spark of humanity and love there as shown in his little drawings...it takes real effort and thought to draw like that.

I'm so impressed with your honesty and humor and can't wait to see your book. It takes real wringing-out of oneself to write about something so personal, but it will be worth it. Happy birthday and may every year be increasingly more tranquil and wiser than the one before it.

Kambri Crews said...

Thank you! As always, you are so insightful. Indeed, it was over four years of mining really painful memories but also hard work of writing and editing. The long hours of writing was very isolating, too. If I had known it would take this long, I'm not sure I would have done it!

Anyway, thank you again and again. I sure hope you like the book.

Anonymous said...

Hi---Im deaf. I have my BA in Criminology. I worked at the unit in Huntsville with the deaf inmates several years ago. Yes, before your father came in.
Im curious what made you do this? This blog? The book? (Im definitely buying it! :) )
Does this help you express what is inside since your dad got sentenced? What is this? Im really curious.

Keep those blogs coming. They are truly fascinating!

Kambri Crews said...

I bought a book about the deaf inmates in Huntsville -- is that what you worked on? It's really interesting, though very slim. I would have loved to have learned more about them. In fact, I'm going to be interviewing some for research and maybe a documentary. We'll see.

Anyway, to answer your questions...I started the blog a couple of years after my dad was first jailed. When he was first imprisoned, I felt like he might as well be dead and I grieved for him like he was. By writing him and the blog, it was a way for me to engage with my dad and get to know him. It made him calm down in jail, too, and follow rules and be a better inmate. And, finally, it humanizes a criminal to the Free World.

Keri said...

what's the title and who is the author of that book about deaf inmates in huntsville? i would love to read it!

Kambri Crews said...

It's called Deaf Culture Behind Bars by Katrina Miller. I'm not sure if it's in print anymore. It's a slim book but interesting.

Kambri Crews said...

Oh, look! Harris Communications still has the book for sale!