Posted in Jeanne Marie

I Am My Father’s Daughter

I am my father’s daughter.
He taught me about reality, insanity and how to find crumbs of love beneath the rubble.
I listened to him for so many years, ranting and raving against society, the government and his bosses.
He was a mason.
He wouldn’t build fireplaces if the contractors didn’t build the houses to his standards and he always fought with his bosses until they would fire him or he would quit.
The excitement we all felt as he found each job and the despair we felt when he lost them was a roller coaster ride of emotions. Do we eat hamburgers versus do we eat saltines and peanut butter.
What he said when he was screaming and yelling was not always crazy. He was equally intelligent and creative, such a hard combination to juggle mentally. Very confusing.
When I first went to AA he was there during one of his rare fits of sobriety.
People would insist that I stay away from that man, crazy Bill, and I’d tell them, “I would, but he’s my dad and he’s sober today and I love him.”
He didn’t ever stay sober very long, but when he was sober, he was quiet and soft and gentle.
He taught me to love nature and to appreciate the free beauty in the world.
My daughters loved their grandpa, but they only saw him when he was sober so that was all they knew…
One winter when he was sober, I asked him if he wanted to come inside and live with us, but he chose to sleep outside in his truck because he said he felt safe there.
He would come in my little apartment to shave and shower and wipe away every trace that he had ever been inside.
Every week when he got paid, he would give me thirteen dollars. Ten for me and a dollar for each of the kids.
I still have the note he wrapped the money in the first week. He left it in my mailbox.
I treasure that note because I am my father’s daughter.
He taught me that material possessions meant nothing.
He taught me that by always leaving everything we had behind when we moved, but I learned it.
He taught me that by selling everything he bought my mother in the moneyed days of summer during the cold, bitter days of winter, to buy his beer, but I learned it.
He taught me that money was hard earned. He taught me that by making me beg for a nickel for the ice cream man, but I learned it.
He taught me that women were strong and that they could survive almost anything and get up and go to work the next day because they had to feed the family, pay the rent and put fuel in the furnace.
He taught me that by the way that he treated my mom, screaming at her and calling her a whore all night and I learned from her too.
I watched the way she survived, how she went to work every morning no matter how little sleep she had the night before, and yes, I learned.
My dad was a paranoid, schizophrenic, bipolar, seldom sober alcoholic, but much of what he said was the truth and he was before his time, so I guess he was also a prophet.
He was a prophet who filled prescriptions for Valium and Librium to stay sober. He was a prophet who could not handle the ugliest parts of humanity when he was sober, (including himself) so he drank to forget and would once more become ugly and cruel and then he would get sober again, hating himself so much that he would drink just to forget again.
He taught my brother the craft of brick laying and then he tortured my brother for being his equal.
Yet, when Dad went crazy and tried to kill his mother and father, it was my brother who got him from jail and into a VA hospital, all the while accepting verbal abuse and being disowned for bringing him where he could get help instead of jail time.
One of my best memories of my dad is when at fourteen I asked for a stereo and had it the next day.
One of my brother’s worst memories is when Dad took away his hunting rifle and sold it to buy my stereo. I never even knew until my brother and I were talking after Mom’s funeral.
My dad was a good man and he was a bad man.
He was my father and I hated him and I loved him.
Forty years ago, when he was living on the streets, my sister and I got him a little apartment in our building.
He lived as if he were staying at a campground. Instead of the stove, he used a little propane cooker and instead of the bed we gave him, he slept on the floor in a sleeping bag. He wouldn’t accept any meals we tried to share and he only ate food out of cans to be sure he wasn’t being poisoned.
He walked the streets during the day, wearing sandals and a long white shirt, telling people that he was Jesus. He believed that…
The last time I saw him was in 1983. He was living in a shed on his friend’s farm. His friend had died and the son didn’t want him there anymore. Dad didn’t care.
As I walked up to the shed, he looked out the window.
His first words were, “Has your mother remarried?”
Second thoughts, “What happened to your hair? That’s not your real hair color.”
He wouldn’t come out to talk to me. I asked him to come out several times. He refused and he talked through the screen.
He told me that I had no right to have remarried after my divorce. He would not acknowledge my husband.
I asked him if he’d like to meet my son, his five-year-old grandson, who stood right beside me and he said, “No.”
He told me to never come back or to try to see him again. He said it would be better that way.
He didn’t have much else to say and as he wished, I have never seen him again.
My brother swears that he saw him slip into my mom’s funeral in 2009.
My mother was his one true love, his obsession, his everything; although he nearly destroyed her before she left him after forty-years of hell.
One granddaughter searches for him to this day. I do too. I don’t know why.
We have not found a death certificate, so we believe that he’s still alive. He would be ninety-one.
We were told that he was possibly still living in the VA hospital, but we were also told that he insisted that he had no family, so they couldn’t tell us if he was there.
Many things in life can be overcome, changed, fixed.
I have been sober since I was twenty-three, yet one unchangeable reality stands out to me.
I am my father’s daughter.

Posted in Jeanne Marie

Memory Clutter

I was finally in the mood to start some spring cleaning and I decided to begin with my office.
As  I cleaned, I realized why I held on to so many mementos and gifts from the people I love.
It wasn’t the actual notes or the drawings, it wasn’t the colorful gift bags with ribbons and bows that captivated me.
No, what I was struggling to fit into this small room, aside from computers, printers, writing, books, CDs, tapes and boxes of pictures were the moments when the gifts had been created and given.
I wanted back the happiness and the love in each child’s face when they had handed the gifts to me.
The pride in my mother’s eyes when she handed me her handmade crafts and the warmth of my sisters hugs, the memories remained in the gifts.
After so many years, these items still triggered every emotion imaginable.
The metal sculpture my twenty-five year-old grandson welded for me when he was twelve, a green pipe with a bowl.
It had made my teenage son laugh so hard because he said it looked like a bong.
“Bong?” I’d asked. He’d laughed some more.
The toys from McDonald’s that my grandson loved to give me for presents. The man who spun like a top but could never stand up, the mermaid that he took for me when he could have had a GI Joe, into the Goodwill bag they went, but my hand hovered over a miniature Blue Fairy.
I remembered watching Artificial Intelligence over and over with my grandson and he was so proud when he found me the Blue Fairy.
The movie was about a little robot boy who wanted to be a real boy and he searched for the Blue Fairy to help him.
I couldn’t drop the Blue Fairy in the bag. Four out of five is pretty good, right?
The huge finger paintings with crackling paint. My once tiny granddaughter’s handprints with mine certainly had to stay.
The plastic sunflower my toddler grandson had presented to me…running up to me with his little fist closed tight around a treasure, he had opened his little fingers to present the treasure. “Flower,” he’d said, full of pride. When I saw it was plastic, I knew I’d keep it forever.
The poster created by pain and love that my baby sister presented to me the day after my suicide attempt twenty-eight years ago, that did go into the trash.
I pulled off the pictures, but the memory of that day and how much I’d hurt my family still burned.
Huge envelopes and boxes for each of my four kids and boxes for half of my fifteen grandkids.
What should stay, what should go?
Would they remember the objects and would the objects mean to them what they meant to me?
Would my son clean out all this junk after I was gone, moaning at my eccentric, hoarding habits? I didn’t know.
I set the bag of donations aside so I could repack it. Another box to be saved.
I just couldn’t part with any of it right now, but I could clean another room tonight.
Who knew spring cleaning could be so emotional?
Posted in Jodie Lynne

Jodie Lynne and Me

14141527_559735124210412_2148173310175757894_n

August 23, 2016

I sat on the front porch of a sober-living house this morning, doing morning group meditation with amens for everyone and everything.
I was surrounded by grateful, sober-living women. I am so proud of each one of these miracle walkers.
As I sat there today, I was reliving throwing my hands up to the sky in complete surrender and handing my daughter to God, so many times, but most of all of the day I started to plan her funeral as she lay unconscious in a bathtub in a dope house, 2,000 miles away, being held under the water in an attempt to either kill her or to revive her from an overdose.
That day, I wept with earth shattering grief as I felt the extreme reality of the pain that her loss would deliver.
And still…I was afraid that he would not save her anymore, because of all the miracles that he had already delivered to her and to me, but God does not give up, he does not falter, he does not say, “Oh no, my child! You blew it last time!”
My heart was so heavy and for the very first time, I was afraid to ask for yet another miracle, but I stuffed my pride and on my knees, I raised my hands to him.
“Not my daughter, not my daughter,” I sobbed.
I asked, I begged and I pleaded, sending my legions of angels to lift her from the tub.
Called my sisters so that they could send out their angels and prayers too.
God was waiting patiently for the exact moment to lift my daughter from the water, to fill her lungs with air, to stand her on her feet, to restore her life, to teach her how to walk again.
The same way I taught her to walk when she was a year old, one step at a time.
I could not save her but he could and he did.
I am extremely grateful for my daughter’s life, for the fact that she is one of these sober-living women, so very grateful for her sobriety, so very grateful that I dragged up the strength and the courage to hand it to him once more when all I wanted to do was jump on a plane and race to save her.
She would have been dead before I could have even packed a suitcase.
I am so very proud of you my daughter for grabbing on to his hands as he lifted you from the water and for holding on to his miracle with all your might.
So very grateful for the woman who obeyed God’s call to open sober-living homes and walked into the prison a few weeks later and shouted, “Where is Jodie Tiger?”
The very next day, she took my daughter’s hand (with the judge’s permission) and led Jodie to this sober-living house.
Thank you God, from the depths of this mother’s heart and God, I pray that you have a blessed day today too.
Love, Jeanne Marie

Posted in Jodie Lynne

Another brush stroke added to The Big Picture…

 

jodie1

Many of you read my article about my daughter, Jodie Lynne, getting out of prison, The Big Picture, last week.

I said, “I am asking all of you who believe to pray for us. She is walking out the prison gates with nothing but the clothes on her back, a faith that God loves her, a belief that He will help her survive and a very strong desire to not return to prison.”

You responded with encouragement, support and promises of prayers…thank you so much.

I am thrilled to report that we got our miracle. One of many in Jodie’s Journey.

Her ex-husband, currently sober, has used his recovery connections to help her get into a recovery house for women. A very structured program designed to teach women to take responsibility for their own lives, while giving them a safe place to live. This is a big deal, definitely in the miracle category, because I have called recovery programs in the area and Jodie has already burned so many bridges that most of them wouldn’t even call me back.

When she is released, she will be taking a daylong bus ride back to Tulsa and as soon as she arrives, she will be going to the house for her interview. They have two openings and all she has to do is show up sober and say she is willing to follow the program’s rules. She will be accepted into the house that very night. She will not spend even one day or one night wandering the streets, looking for shelter.

She started crying when I told her. She had planned to leave prison with a list of shelters for the homeless and now she has a bed waiting for her.

If she wants to stay straight and stay out of jail, God has given her the opportunity. It won’t be easy, but it will be possible.

She has been calling me the last few weeks full of anxiety and nearly hysterical. I kept telling her that God had a place for her, we just didn’t know where it was yet and I believed that with all my heart, but nothing I could say calmed her down. I understood her fear, but this precious girl has helped me learn to trust God, so when I could tell her that I knew where her place was, my heart was overflowing with gratitude. I told her that I believed for her when she couldn’t and I reminded her that she has done the same for me.

Again, thank you for your encouragement, support and prayers,

Jeanne Marie

https://womenwhothinktoomuch.com/2015/07/05/the-big-picture/

 

Posted in Jodie Lynne

The Big Picture…

20131216_113843

Hi! I haven’t been around my blog very much lately because I am in the middle of packing up my house in Florida and moving to New Hampshire.
Crazy as it sounds, I would rather be cold than hot and I am from New England.
I do have other reasons for moving. Still, I’m either insane or very brave considering the snow they had there last year.
So, the day that I close on my house in Florida is the same day that my daughter, Jodie Lynne, walks out of prison in Oklahoma.
I am asking all of you who believe to pray for us. She is walking out the prison gates with nothing but the clothes on her back, a faith that God loves her, a belief that He will help her survive and a very strong desire to not go back to prison.
I can’t go to Oklahoma on that day and I think God wants me to let her sort this one out because the timing means that I have to be here in Florida and not there with her.
Her dad and I have set aside some money so she can get an apartment, but not many landlords decide to rent to a felon, a felon without a job.
In spite of that, I am praying that God already has a safe place picked out for her. He can do that…I can’t.
Jodie and I are writing a book about how hard it is to make it and stay clean when you walk out of prison.
It’s almost impossible to start over when you have been stripped of everything but your life. Your children, dignity, self-worth, confidence and possessions, gone, and now you owe thousands and thousands of dollars in fines.
It used to be that you’d go to prison and work off your fines but now they not only add them on to your bill, they charge you for the services you require to stay free.
She has to pay to see her parole officer and she has to pay for frequent urine tests.
She owes $50,000 in child support and as soon as she gets a job they garnish her wages.
I will never defend the choices that landed my daughter in jail, but I will say this, people do horrendous things and walk away every day. All you need to walk away is money for a good lawyer.
She has no crimes against people, no violent offenses, just a bunch of petty crimes that added up to doing time as a habitual criminal.
Plus, Oklahoma has more women in prison than any other state and it’s not because they have the highest crime rate.
I make no excuses for my daughter, but as we have traveled the prison system together over the last eight years, I have realized that the women and girls who come out of prison are setup to fail.
I don’t know how anyone could come out owing about $70,000 and make it, excepting for a big miracle or a few medium size miracles.
My daughter is a beautiful woman, inside and out and when she is straight, she is my best friend in the world. When she is not straight, she is my biggest heartache.
I would like you to pray with me that she finds the strength and the courage to walk out of prison and stay sober, that she will find a job allowing her to pay her child support and fines, at least enough to stay out of jail. She doesn’t have a driver’s license because she owes child support, so her job options are very limited, confined to the area where she finds an apartment.
I never did understand how losing your license because you didn’t pay child support would help get child support from you. How do you get to work without a license?
And as for me, please pray that I stay strong as I pack about a hundred boxes, while trying to get rid of everything that I don’t care about because it costs too much to move it all and even some things I do care about.
I have to remember that in the big picture, possessions really don’t mean anything, people do.
I am moving for many complicated reasons, reasons that are far more important than fine china or knickknacks.
I care deeply about my writing, my books and my computers and even most of the books I own could go.
I’ve already gotten rid of hundreds of books and I pray for the strength and the stamina to make this move.
I am praying for the courage to allow my daughter to walk out of prison and stand on her own two feet.
My daughter and I are also writing about how going to prison damages the families of the prisoners, the parents and the grandparents, siblings and family members, anyone who loves them, moms who like me, never give up hoping and believing because they love their child.
Please pray that God and the angels cover our backs as we each struggle to do what needs to be done to change our lives for the better and please pray that we continue to move forward in faith despite the enormous odds that we have against us.
Amen and XO, Jeanne Marie

Posted in Michelle Marie

Oh Mother…From Michelle Marie for Jeanne Marie

Oh Mother up in heaven as you
sit at the Father’s feet please
ask him to give me strength
I love you and I miss you
Happy Mother’s Day
Love…me
10421588_10206695477375670_3185355626845398536_n
Have a blessed weekend my friend.
My arms reach out to embrace
and hold you tight!
I love you!
Michelle Marie
Stunning photo JM
You inspire me…thank you!