Sunday, June 22, 2008

At 32 Part 1

2003


Today I received a letter from Dave. He wrote me from his cell at East Jersey Prison in Rahway, New Jersey. He’s not in jail for robbing a candy store or a liquor store, not in for stealing a car or assaulting somebody, not in for buying or selling drugs. This time, Dave’s behind bars mainly for nonpayment of child support. I’m not even sure Dave knows how many kids he’s fathered. With his spotty criminal record, every mistake he makes is magnified. I’m surprised by the letter, as Dave has never written me previously. He’s sent a postcard or two, and a Christmas card once, but never a letter. His reading and writing skills are at an elementary school level, but he has shown improvement lately. When he was younger, all his time behind bars was spent rolling cigarettes and lifting weights, but on his recent trips to jail he’s been educating himself, reading books, mostly the Bible, and practicing his grammar.

He writes: "To my brother Ervin.

"How are you doing good I hope. Are you still smoking cigarettes bad habit I guess you know that much I never thought you would smoke I guess being subjected to them your entire life it was enevitble that you would smoke.

"I want to let you know that I apologize for any problems I caused you from my drinking and drug problem in the past. Because you know thats not the person that I really am Just was self medicating all the pain in my heart.

"Man I made so many mistakes in the walk of life is full of snares and traps I just seem to step in all of them what line was I in when they were passing out the brains.

"In any event I hope you and the family have a great Christmas sorry I cant be there you should be geting a bible study course in the mail thats from me Look it over once you have the time.

"I met some great people in the church Christian people and they mail me my Bible Study here. And they prey for me and my family and they are willing to except anyone who believes in God and Jesus died on the cross for us and your life will be so full with happyness and thats what God does looks out for all his children. I guess you herd enough of the God stuff but it is a shame we didn’t grow up in the church its good for all family and they seem to have important knowledge and wisdom that helps one have a better life.

"Tell everyone I said hi and have a great Christmas Don’t worry everything will work out.

"p.s. Tell mom I forgot if any one wants to send me a book or magazine they can by source of sale only that means from the book store or they can subscribe me a magazine or book.

"Im not aloud to have any hard back books and nothing with pictures of guns. So if any has an idea to send me something to read they can.

"Thanks for being a good brother talk to you later ervin.

"Later your brother

"Dave"

I’m not quite sure why, but I’m crying a little. Just a salty drop or two rolling down my cheek and onto my lips. I want to hate him. I’ve vowed to hate him forever. But I can’t. He’s my brother and I miss him. Maybe he’s really changed. Maybe he has found God and is a new man. He seems to honestly want to be a better person. I’ll have to go see him in the new year. Give him hug. Tell him I love him. Do I love him? I hope so.

I swallow a Percocet, which I’m taking for mouth pain after some recent extensive dental work. Avoiding the dentist for fifteen years did no favors to my teeth. My mouth doesn’t really hurt anymore, but the pills make me feel nice. I like feeling nice. Nothing wrong with that, right?

I fold the letter and slide it back into the envelope. I hope Dave and I will get a chance at a new beginning. I decide to write him back and let him know that all is forgiven. We’re brothers, after all.

3 comments:

Kelly said...

This just broke my heart, Ervin. Your relationship with Dave seems to have had so many ups and downs, but it's stories like these that make it apparent why you couldn't help but love him. I'm glad he had the opportunity to reach out to you before the end.

Sasha Allgood said...

I've been here more than once, reading it and walking away every time. This one's hard, knowing what's to come, and I never can come up with the words to explain how it makes me feel. Too hard for words, but I do agree with Kelly that I'm glad he reached out to you. He tried and sometimes that's all we have.

Ervin A. said...

I thought it was important to share the letter he wrote me, to show that he was sorry for the things he'd done, to let everyone hear his voice, his words, as he wrote them. I have to say, that I was sorry, too, for a lot of the things I did. It breaks my heart when I think about the time that his kids came to live with us, and I didn't treat them as well as I should have, because when I looked at those girls all I could see was their father. That was wrong of me, horrible of me. I should've been much nicer, but instead I was kind of a jerk, because all of a sudden we had a house full of screaming children. It was a tough time for everyone. But, that was long ago, and all I can do know is write about it, and share these stories with all of you. Family is important, and I cherish the family I have left...and I cherish all of you out there reading these words. Thank you.

...Ervin...