A while back, The Boy ended up spending a few days in the clink for a probation violation. He got out, said he was ready to straighten up… and got arrested the very next weekend for underage drinking. Kind of hard to argue when you fall out of a (fortunately parked) car and throw up in front of a cop. Now this, amazingly enough, seemed to get through to him. He spent most of March at home, and was actually reasonable and helpful most of the time. However, last Thursday it was face the music time again: this time, we got to deposit him at the jail… not a pleasant duty, but a duty nonetheless. We had no idea at the time how long he would be there, which is partly why I’ve held off talking about it — I wanted to have a more complete story to tell here.
So our truncated family spent Easter first at church, then at the in-laws’ for lunch. I’d made a batch of Parker House rolls (my grandmother’s recipe), otherwise known as Crack House rolls for their addictive quality, before church; that contribution was taken care of.
I told you that, as Bill Cosby said, to tell you this. Family Man talked about the magic of Easter, and I found some of it in a rather unlikely place.
While we were eating, Mrs. Fetched suggested that I call the jail to see what time The Boy’s visitation times were — “maybe we haven’t already missed it.” Good thought… I called at 12:30, and one of his two times was at 1:30! So I bolted the rest of my meal, skipped dessert, and went on down to the jail. Mrs. Fetched had the chicken houses calling, and a cousin (Splat’s older brother) said he’d come but wimped out, so I went alone.
The waiting area was full — “packed” wouldn’t be exaggerating much. Lots of kids there, some dressed up, some not, all of them in a pretty good mood. None of the people there were members of what might be considered my socio-economic class, but everyone was friendly and upbeat — we all had something in common, after all. It was fun to watch the kids chattering, hopping about, sharing moments with grandparents, undoubtedly jazzed on Easter candy but it was all good because they were about to see someone they loved and cared about.
I settled in to people-watch, figuring The Boy would get delayed what with all the other people in front of me, but then I heard a woman’s voice call his name, then saw me and said, “I didn’t know The Boy was in there! What happened?” I rolled my eyes and she laughed, knowing that got to the root of the matter far more precisely than some ding-a-ling misdemeanor charge — which really is only a symptom of the real problem. Her son was one of The Boy’s best friends for years, and has been into the same kind of stuff he has, so she understands exactly what the problem was. So I stuck my head in the alcove, where there are two visitor stations, and there he was behind the thick plexiglas. An entire family — kids, grandparents, wife, and who-knows who else, were crammed chattering into the second station, but that didn’t matter anymore.
What we talked about wasn’t that important; it seemed that we actually connected for a little while. I really can’t explain it; I got to express some regrets about stuff that I wasn’t able to follow through with, and he seemed amenable to a make-up session. I told him about our planned summer trip, and he seemed to actually look forward to joining us (I hope without a guest riding along this time). The nurse is actually making sure he’s getting his meds and tests done this time (written orders from the endocrinologist helps there), and he thinks he’ll be getting out this week. He says he’s “done with that shit,” and plans to do little else but work and save money through the summer. Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe, but it’s so difficult. I can only watch, pray, and hope. Our half-hour went quickly, but at the end we ran out of things to say, and we’re not quite comfortable enough to enjoy silence together (something my dad and I can do), so we wound it up and I promised to be back on Thursday.
All kinds of miraculous things happen on Easter, and often in the strangest places — be it a jailhouse or an empty tomb, but it happens. You just have to be ready to see it.