Saturday, December 18, 2010


My Dear Friends,

I have shared with you my past three Christmases, it seems only right to share with you this Christmas.  I am so grateful to be home with family, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  This experience over the past seven years has changed my perspective a bit.  My thoughts wonder to the people in prison, men and women, trying to make the most of a difficult situation.  Well, you may say, but they deserve what they have.  Not all of them and really nobody deserves to be treated like an animal, or in many cases worse than an animal.  Our justice system has proven to me that it is a very inaccurate and ineffective tool for controlling society.

On the other hand I remember while at Lew Sterrett (the Dallas County jail) where I stayed for 19 months following the trial there were many homeless people who got themselves arrested around Thanksgiving and hoped to stay through the cold months saying how grateful they were for a warm place to stay, a bed, three meals, TV and some antibiotics.  So in that respect the county jail acts like a homeless shelter.  Since I was there for two holiday seasons I sure enough saw some of the same faces coming through the second or even third time.  It works...the County gets paid to house these so-called criminals.  I wondered many times if taxpayers have any idea what their tax dollars are paying for and how inefficiently it is spent.  Is it all taxpayers' responsibility to support the homeless anyway or is it for each person to decide whether (or not) to attend to society's little (getting bigger) problem through charitable contributions?  Does anybody have any idea the payroll cost associated with these institutions?  Is the growth created by the need to fund the big-business prison and jail systems, a definite growth industry, or is it created by more people becoming criminal , or more people becoming homeless?  Something to think about.

During the four years coming up to the trial there was a short time where we had to live at a homeless shelter, one that was set up as "transitional living".  The costs of legal fees, having to support a family when I could no longer find a job as a result of the false allegations and spending many days, nights and weeks at Children's Hospital with my special needs son, Nate, left me with no alternative but to live at the shelter. Once Nate's health stabilized and through a friend I interviewed with a business owner who was willing to hire me, I was able to earn enough money to move out after about eight months.  The shelter was nothing like I imagined.  I found many wonderful people among the residents, many with unusual and difficult circumstances.  The unusual became the norm.  We were supportive of one another and in spite of the voluminous rules (very much like prison - only with family together) we were able to celebrate holidays and good fortune in finding employment and places to live outside the shelter.

Yesterday I visited this shelter for a few minutes.  I was in the front lobby when a couple came in with some charitable contributions in the form of food.  Upon leaving, the woman was explaining how some of the food was for the "normal" people referring to the staff and the other food was for the "others".  Hmmm, I thought what exactly is normal?  I am sitting here today thinking I used to be like that woman, the one who looked down and pitied the "others".  I'll be honest I did!!  I've had some real eye-opening and humbling experiences...and come to know we are all just people....with similar wants and needs.  BUT...just people!!  I remember while in prison several friends didn't know what to say to me so they did not write or wrote with such caution.  All along I was just the same person, with all the same interests wanting to just share our lives, wherever each of us were at the time. 

I am hopeful that I remember these valuable lessons for the rest of my life and always know that others are, in fact, EQUAL.  No "one-up" and no "one-down" conversations or thoughts.  How useful is this attitude in all of our interactions with our loved ones, friends, business associates, neighbors and really all those around the world.  No need to judge, just love, just care, just be a part of humanity with our many human conditions.  Now there is a Merry Christmas thought I can live with.  Let's celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and all that His life taught us.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!   Here are pictures of Nate (19) playing Santa Clause and Brandon (18) always the best dressed.

1 comment:

  1. This is so good, Audrey.

    It's wonderful that you have a blog.... and such a fantastic story to tell.

    You've been through so much... thank you for sharing it with us.