butterfly woman…for Jodie Lynne
butterfly woman…for Jodie Lynne
From my baby book…
Mom’s notes are like hugs she left behind…
Notes from Mom, colors changed by time, but the love never fades. I love you Mom.
June 1, 1:07 P.M.
I woke up this morning knowing that I could run over to my daughter’s and have a cup of coffee. It was the most incredible feeling in the world. Like waking up on Christmas morning.
So, that is what I did and then we went to Wal-Mart and I bought a gorgeous, pink hibiscus and a couple of plants that she picked out. We also bought three quirky, pineapple glasses for the kids.
When I got back to the travel trailer, I got out my new bag of organic dirt and my plants and I gave them all some love and some water.
I re-potted a few and I replanted Jodie’s for her in cute little pots from my house in New Hampshire.
It was probably 90° and I just loved the healing heat on my skin. It made my aching bones feel loved.
I have been so tired of being cold, even in the summer, and I am loving the heat and the constant sunshine.
When I was done, I went inside and cleaned my little, temporary home.
After that, I took a long, cool shower, did my hair and laid on the bed with my puppies, doing Facebook and looking at WordPress.
I should have been looking at Facebook and doing WordPress, but oh well!
After few hours, I decided to take a nap and I fell asleep feeling blessed. I woke to my daughter texting me, saying, “come outside,” so I did!
She lights up my world and it was so unbelievable to have her outside my door on a whim.
Her friend Kelli, whom I love, was with her and they came in and sat down for a while.
Kelli said she loved my little home and as I looked around, I realized; I had made it a home, even if it was just for a few days. I had put homey touches all through the tiny rooms because today is only the day we have, and I knew that for a few todays, I would be living here.
We visited and when they were leaving, I told my daughter that she lit up my day by dropping by unexpected and I meant it with my whole heart.
Now, my honey is on his way from spending the day with his brother and he is bringing me and the dogs chicken for supper.
It has been a perfect day of physical rest and spiritual rejuvenation. I am grounded. I am home. I am healing.
Tomorrow at noon, we sign the papers on our new home and the hard work starts again, but I’m going to take it slowly, one piece at a time.
All the boxes are going in one bedroom and I’ll deal with them little by little.
God has blessed me so richly that I am overwhelmed and I thank him for this day and for all the wonders that I know he has in store for me with each day that he wakes me.
I wasn’t sure if I’d done the right thing pulling up my roots once more and traipsing across the country in a bouncy RV with everything I owned in a U-Haul behind me, but I knew when my daughter showed up at my door that my world was right and as usual God had led me in the right direction.
My grandson Jonas called me and thanked me for his new glass.
Then, Jodie called me and she told me that the kids said that their drinks tasted sweeter when they were drinking them out of a pineapple glass.
And thank you, Jesus.
My little momma, throwing it together, beautifully as always, even moving a whole house. Super excited Jeanne Marie! I’m blessed beyond measure to have u moving closer. All the healing n growing we’ve done in past few years has filled a void I can never describe. It gives me hope of sharing myself with my own babies one day. Thank u for being my mum n my friend, love u always. Jodie Lynne
I’m so blessed to have you in my life as my daughter and as my friend and I love you to the end of the earth and back. Thank you for always loving me and for building me up…I can’t wait to have coffee with you anytime we want. I love you, Mum
My daughter sent me a picture of a rainbow and I told her it was awesome, that I love rainbows.
She said, “You silly gurl, you are a rainbow.”
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.
I am God’s flower.
I am petals swaying in the wind
soaking up the dew drops
while the sunshine kisses my skin.
I am God’s flower.
Do not pick me.
Do not crush me.
God created me just as I am.
I am His flower.
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
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,
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
Happy Birthday, Jodie Lynne
Today is my younger daughter’s fortieth birthday. Since we couldn’t be together, we created a substitute plan. We would celebrate over the phone.
When she called me, we only talked about things that made us happy. We talked about her silky-haired Chihuahua that I am raising, Maggie Mae, we talked about other dogs that we have loved through the years and we spoke of our happy dreams, instead of our nightmares.
We talked about peanut butter and marshmallow fluff being her favorite birthday cake (today) and how grateful she was to have snacks in her locker so that she didn’t have to go to the cafeteria to eat on her birthday.
For me, as on this date every year; I am thinking about the morning that she came into my life. She made a grand entrance, all 5-pounds 6-ounces of her. Her daddy had ordered me to have a boy and he meant it, so when they told me I had a beautiful little girl, I started to cry.
It had been a rough birth, a planned C-section, but the spinal that didn’t work before they made the incision was not part of the plan, so I was a bit overwhelmed and the moment she was out, I was over-drugged to compensate for their mistake. Then, they brought her to me and the moment I saw her little face shaped like a pink heart, I fell in love with her. She was so tiny and so cute that she looked like a dolly, not like a real baby.
Everyone’s life is complicated, hindsight is an incredible tool to beat yourself with and you can do some real damage. I often find ways to blame myself for every unwise choice this beautiful woman has made, but I’m not going to do that today.
Today, I am going to celebrate her life, her birthday and the fact that when she is sober, she is full of Grace and Light. I will celebrate the day twenty years ago when she taught me to open myself to the spirit of our Universe, the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, the Stars, the Wind and the Rain. The day she taught me to stand barefoot outside and to raise my arms up to the sky so I that I could ground myself in the beauty and the strength of God’s love through the elements He created. I still try to remember to do this every morning and what my daughter taught me that day changed my life.
Today, I will celebrate the precious gift that her aliveness gives me, no matter where she has to rest her head on her birthday.
As my daughter falls asleep tonight, in the gritty gloom of Eddie Warrior’s Correctional Center in Oklahoma, I will fall asleep in sun-drenched Florida. But we will be together in spirit. I will hold her tight in my heart, I will keep her ever constant in my prayers and if I am blessed, tonight she will stop in for a visit as I dream.
Happy Birthday, Jodie Lynne
Special thanks to Michelle Marie for the awesome family picture above.
Okay, I have been taking flak from my family all winter because I live in Florida… Well, it’s time to set the record straight.
Yes, I live in the only warm, perfect little piece of the United States.
Yes, I have year-round sunshine, plenty of rain for my flowers and just a few cool nights when all the plants have to come in the house.
Yes, I have a yard full of tropical flowers that are gorgeous and there are no gardening limits beyond my imagination.
Yes, we have flowering hibiscus trees in every color. Yes, the blooms are as big as a salad plate.
Yes, I have a pool that now has a solar heater so I that I can swim year-round because I am NOT getting into 60 degree water!
Never mind that I swam in the ocean in New Hampshire with water that had permanent icicles for thirty-six years.
Never mind that my sister and I once streaked naked through that ocean in November. My body has changed and it does not like cold.
Still, I would stand beside you all, stand right by your snow drifts with you, if I could.
With all that said, let me tell you what I have been through this winter.
I have been snowed-out while you are all complaining about being snowed-in. I have been kept out. I have been kept out of Maine, New Hampshire and Oklahoma. I have been stopped from visiting my sisters and their families, my son and his wife and their new baby, my brother, my granddaughter and her baby boy, my newly found niece and my daughter.
I have been trapped in this sunshine and it hurts and I don’t want to hear no more hoo-haa about living in the land of sunshine while you are a living in the land of six-foot snow banks and having to put your kids out in the parking spaces with cones on their heads to save your parking spaces after you shovel.
No, I don’t have to shovel but I have to sit here and miss everybody and I am snowed-out.
You know, we have problems here in Florida too. We are expecting a cold front tomorrow, record lows in the 70’s.
So, the next someone says squat when I post my pictures of flowers glowing in the sunshine, they are going to get a smack upside the head because I miss you, my family and I am snowed-out.
It’s not my fault. I tried to move back to New England. I sold my house. I put a contract on a house in Laconia, NH. Both deals fell through. I would have been moving January 31st, just in time for the first big snow storm, but God said, “No, you just stay right where you are little Missy,” and that’s the way it happened…
Family, I love you, I miss you and I would love to be snowed in with you instead of being snowed out, I promise.
So please shut up.
Dear daughter in prison…
When you feel so alone and
there are bars on your door
I am standing beside you
of that you can be sure.
When letters don’t come
And you think you’re
against all advice…
I still spoil you rotten.
I’m there beside you
in ways you can’t see
even though you kick
and you scream
as if you were three.
Soon your caterpillar
skin you will shed
and my beautiful
will be free…
Your loving mother,
From the newsletter, Women who Think Too Much, 2000
DAUGHTER, MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER. ALL WROTE ABOUT AGING, WITHOUT DISCUSSING IT WITH EACH OTHER.
A COINCIDENCE OR THE TWILIGHT ZONE?
THINGS I LEARNED THE HARD WAY
1. Johnson’s Stretch Mark Cream doesn’t really prevent or remove the one million stretch marks motherhood is bound to deliver, although it does keep each and every stretch mark incredibly soft!
2. When the man in your young life tells you that you’re much too pretty to wear make up, he’s really saying, “Go scrub your face or someone may actually take a second look at you!”
3. Never call your mother for a ride home, from the 24 hour Wal-Mart, because you locked your keys in the car. Not unless you want a lecture about shopping alone after midnight!
4. Don’t call your mother when she’s writing in Computerville; she won’t even remember the phone call!
5. If your mother is a writer, choose your words very carefully, because if she’s like my mother, she’ll hear a story in every syllable!
6. Never tell her she’s too old to have a life!
LOVE YA MOM, JODIE
An old woman
Sits by herself
Staring at her past
Arranged on a shelf.
Time is money
Or so they say
Time stands still
Then slips away.
A baby is born
His first sound
An angry cry,
A rose in bloom
is ready to die.
Time waits for no one
Then just marches on,
It goes by too fast
Then it takes too long.
by Jeanne Marie
THOUGHTS ON GROWING OLDER
With a smile on my face I meet the dawn
Tomorrow’s not here and yesterday’s gone.
I have just today to live my life
So I’ll try my best to keep out strife.
I’ll count my blessings, one at a time
And the first, and the best, is that
today is mine.
My youth has gone into the night
And old age is no longer a fright,
I face the mirror with eyes away
And don’t see the wrinkles or the hair
that’s gone gray.
I only see the life within
Greeting this old face with a grin,
I say “Old girl, you’ve tried your best,
so relax, and let God handle the rest.”
by Grace (my Mom)
Middle child, where do you fit in?
You fought for my attention
but did you ever win?
You surely have it now
although painfully gained.
You capture me with crisis
then, I shake loose again.
Middle child, I know you well,
you speak to me of your dreams
your fears and your babies lost.
People judge you harshly
but once you lived beneath
so, together we pay the cost.
I can’t catch you when you fall
but I’ll bandage up your knees
just like when you were five
and asphalt tore through your jeans.
“Don’t run,” I’d holler out the door
as off to play you’d tear.
You never heeded my warnings
took on the world without a fear.
Twenty-two this month and still…
my warnings fly into the wind
blowing every which way
following you aimlessly around.
Perhaps you’d stop to listen
if you knew that my heart bleeds
each time your knees hit the ground.
My daughter, my middle child
I loved you when you didn’t know
when my hands were full with others
or when my feelings didn’t show.
We’ve had our ups and downs
but I’ll never let you go.
Middle child, where do you fit in?
My quintessence has a
special niche for you
tucked beneath my ribs
right where you’ve always been.
by Jeanne Marie, 1997