I was sitting in the dayroom playing backgammon when the following words blaired over the PA system, “Will the following inmate report to visitation: Jennings 727504 H4.”
I looked up at my buddy and said, “That’s me!” Then I jumped up and hauled ass to my cell. I grabbed my toothbrush, applied toothpaste, and started to brush my teeth as I speed walked to the bathroom. My buddy yells up to me, “Who came to see you?” I didn’t look at him, I just hollered back, “I don’t know.”
I quickly brush my teeth and I’m gone.
I speed walk to the visiting center. My calves are burning. The visiting center is about 2 blocks from H4. If you look at the pic in my blog called “Prison Cancer Walk Promotes Violence”, you’ll see that H4 is the last unit in the background. It’s the farthest unit from visiting. SCCC is big.
As I’m in route, I’m wondering who came to see me. The only person who shows up unannounced is my sister Tabatha. So in my gut, I know it’s her.
I walk in the visiting room and look over the sea of people. Before I can locate my table I hear “Uncle Steven, Uncle Steven!” It’s my niece Austyn and she’s running towards me. She jumps up on me and I catch her in a big hug. Then I spin around a few times as I growl against her neck. She’s laughing hard and I’m lost in the moment. I kiss her all over her cheek in a theatrical manner as I say, “Mwah Mwah Mwah Mwah.”
After this amazing greeting, I look over and see Tabatha holding Hudsyn. They’re both watching us with big smiles on their faces. As I get closer, Tabatha says to Hudsyn, “Look, it’s Uncle Steven…can you say hi?” Hudsyn is shy. She turns her face and burries it in Tabs shoulder. She doesn’t know me. I give my sister a big hug and say, “I love you.” She says it back. Hudsyn see’s all of this. She gradually warms up to me.
Before long, I’m spinning her around and tossing her in the air. She loves it. I love it more.
Austyn and I make our famous Ice Cream Cake. Its an ice cream sandwich on top of a vending machine pastry. We put it in the microwave for 45 seconds then top it off with sour patch kids. Austyns choice. And I love it! We feed each other. I give out big emphatic over-exaggerated MMMMMMM’s with every bite. Austyn giggles. Hudsyn wants some too. So she climbs up in the chair next to me. I feed her. Its awesome. I absolutely LOVE these moments.
After ice cream cake, its time to play on the mats. I pick the girls up and spin them around. Its so easy to make them laugh. We do summersaults. I stand on my head. Austyn stands on her head. I help Hudsyn stand on her head. We all clap…she did it!
They announce “photo time.” We all go get our picture taken. They turn out GREAT! Look how beautiful my family is. I’m a lucky man.
Three hours pass and its time to go. Austyn won’t let go of me. Sometimes she cries. But not this time. Tabatha finally gets her to let go of me. We all hug and kiss goodbye. My heart is breaking. I know it’ll be several months before I see them again. But I can wait. Anticipation will only sweeten the moments when we’re all together again.
Thank you to my entire family for all your love & support.
I love you.