Tag Archives: letters

Purge

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I’m cleaning out the garage and getting rid of a lot of clutter–especially paper.  Proud to say I tossed quite a bit out last night.  Things I got rid of include:

  • Old graduation programs
  • Cards from former bosses/coworkers simply signed
  • Old invitations
  • Cards from businesses
  • Old check stubs (I have been saving them for YEARS!)
  • Old bills and bank statements

Trickier and still holding:

  • Letters from students
  • Funeral programs
  • College/high school work

The deciding factor for me was whether I wanted to continue toting and storing things that I rarely glance at.  The answer is no.  Plus I’m tired of looking at my messy garage!  I can’t wait to see what I throw out in Round II this evening.

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She Does Not Stop!

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Yesterday I received a call from Jazmine’s great-grandmother who resides in East Orange, New Jersey.  She was calling to see how we were doing as well as to share a portion of a letter that Jazmine’s mom (her granddaughter) had written last week.  She wrote that Eliza has been bragging to her how faithfully I brought the boys to see her!  Eliza also stated that I should do this for her considering that Jazmine is her daughter! Therefore Jazmine’s mom is bitter that I am not extending her this courtesy!

I had many concerns about this letter:

  • I have guardianship of Jazmine and therefore any requests for visitation need to be addressed to me, not her grandmother. 
  • Why is she even listening/talking to to Eliza in the first place? Also, Eliza failed to tell her that the visits she received were court ordered and that it took her an entire year to get those granted!
  • Jazmine’s mom seems to be developing an attitude of entitlement.  I guess it is not enough that I am raising her daughter on my own.  I think Eliza has manipulated her and helped cultivate this “right.” 
  • I am offended that she would try to imply that I am doing something wrong by not driving 150 miles roundtrip and using my precious weekend time to do so.  It doesn’t seem to bother her that my brother, her parents, siblings, or any of her friends have not visited her at all–or even offered to escort Jazmine.  I have visited her twice with my niece; something I did not have to do!  I also write her and send cards, pictures, detailed updates, and drawings from Jazmine.  I am only one person and I can’t do it all!  Actually, I refuse!
  • She has not attempted to improve herself during her stay there.  She has been in so much trouble that she has added 9 months to her sentence.  Therefore I do not feel obligated to inconvenience myself to soothe her obviously fragile, immature ego.  If she was so interested in parenting Jazmine, she would do what it takes to get out sooner!
  • Again, why is Eliza determined to start more fires?!!! I think she may be missing the consistent visits that I provided her with.  Now that my stepsons live in North Carolina, I doubt she gets to see them on a regular basis.  Had the boys remained with me, I would have continued to follow the court order. Though she won’t acknowledge this and instead chooses to rub this information in Jazmine’s mom’s face to make her resent me for not doing the same for her.  Once again, Eliza is talking from both sides of her mouth!

As a mother I do understand her desire to spend time with her daughter.  However, my primary concern is that I take care of Jazmine to the best of my ability.  I had nothing to do with Eliza or my niece’s mother landing in prison.  I just have the tedious task of rearing children with ungrateful parents!  All she seems concerned about is making her stay more bearable. 

I knew it was only a matter of time before Eliza rubbed off on Jazmine’s mom!

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

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Jazmine’s mom wrote on Friday and of course, she failed to mention anything regarding her extended stay!  She did write that the facility was currently on lockdown mode, and out of boredom, she decided to write.  I have no idea what prompted me to call and verify this information but I did.  The prison has not been on lockdown since last summer when an offender escaped. 

I, too noticed that Jazmine’s mom was in a different dorm since she had last written a month ago.  I already knew the answer before I made the inquiry, but I wanted to be sure.  The prison operator confirmed that Jazmine’s mom and Eliza were infact in the same dorm when she gave me Eliza’s  location!  I knew Eliza’s dorm number by heart due to writing her so often.  I was hoping that Eliza had been moved, but no, they are in the same living quarters!

If they had a prior conflict I can’t understand why the facility would place them in the same area.  Each room contains 16 bunk beds so that means they are in close proximity to one another.  Poor Jazmine’s mom!  The devil sure has a sense of humor as my friend Stacy pointed out.  However, I feel confident that God will have the last laugh!  I don’t know what could, but I pray that something good comes out of them being together.

What’s Up With Her?

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Today I received a letter from Eliza.  She wrote to inquire about the boys and to inform me that she is currently being held in segregation until the end of November.  She did not say why.  She only said “I’ve had a rough few weeks.”

Eliza asked that I not bring the boys to visit because she does not want them to see her in chains.  Not to mention, the visit would only last one hour.  She wrote that she would look forward to seeing me in December.

I am glad that she informed me, however, I was puzzled as to why she wrote Ethan telling him about being chained up in segregation, too.  Now if she does not want him to physically see her in this manner, why provide a visual?  Of course it would worry him.  I’m sure he would want to know what it means to be segregated, why she is there in the first place, and if is she hurt, just to name a few things that would probably float in his mind.

We chose not to give him that letter. I am left to wonder if she is looking for sympathy from her son?  I mean why tell him this?  I can respect her reasons for declining visits at this point, but this was information that was not appropriate to share with her child.

Is she expecting me to reach out to her again in her time of need?  I’ve tried that and look where it got me.  I’m not sure if she wrote providing just enough to pique my curiousity so that I would write her asking about the incident and offering my support.  Perhaps she was writing to diagnose the damage that she has done to our communication.  Eliza tried to tread carefully by not revealing too much in case I am not empathetic to her plight.

Was she so upset by the letter from Evan’s therapist that she let her emotions (and mouth) get her into trouble?  I mailed the letter off a few weeks ago.  Eliza shouldn’t have been surprised by its contents because I have been making her aware of the severity of Evan’s PTSD stemming from the murder. 

I knew that she would have trouble swallowing what was written.  Eliza has never really believed what I was telling her about him.   So maybe it was too much reality to handle seeing it spelled out  in no uncertain terms by the therapist.

Wanting to avoid any more contempt accusations, I contacted the court clerk and explained the situation.  I offered to mail a copy of the letter to place in our file.  I have no idea if Eliza will recant her wishes.  I don’t want to deal with her blaming us for missing two visits.  Simply put, we can not trust her.

The clerk agreed and wondered if Eliza had already sent them a copy.  I had to stifle my laughter!  Did she send us a copy of the last letter?  I also inquired about the potential court date.  The clerk said with the letter from the therapist that she doubted very highly that the judge would even act on Eliza’s claim at all.  She also mentioned that it appears that I have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep Eliza abreast of Evan’s progress.  What a relief!

But still, I am left to wonder, once again, what’s up with her?

Mail Box

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As long as I can remember I have always loved receiving mail.  Growing up I had several pen pals over the years, including one from France, Jamilla Ben Amar.  My friend Omar and I would correspond faithfully throughout the summer break when he went to visit his family in the Virgin Islands.

 

I also liked entering the contests found on the back of cereal boxes.  This was a surefire way to receive something in the mail.  One time without my mother’s knowledge, I decided to write someone from the phonebook.  It was during this time that I was reading the Nancy Drew series.  I was so fascinated with the girl sleuth!  Out of curiousity I wanted to see if there was an actual person by that name so I turned to the white pages.  I found a listing for a Nancy Drew in the phonebook and I commenced to write her a letter.  Much to my shock and delight, she wrote back!!!

 

I am no different as an adult.  I still love to receive letters and cards.  Even more, I love to be the sender.  I’ve made it a monthly ritual to choose five friends and/or family to send a letter or card.  I love pretty paper, envelopes, stickers, nice pens, and colorful stamps.  I’ve even sent cards to Nicholas.  My mother loved to receive my postal perks as well. 

 

Each of the boys have subscriptions to their favorite magazines.  Nic gets both Legos and Nic magazines, Ethan receives Sports Illustrated for Teens, and Evan loves his WWE for Kids magazine.  This guarantees them something in the mail at least once a month.  

 

At one point in time I looked forward to receiving correspondence from Eliza.  But now, not so much.

 

I also maintain this practice with my students.  I buy pre-stamped postcards to jot quick message to their parents.  This is my small way of celebrating their achievements or to provide encouragement to poor students.  The kids really appreciate the gesture and often show the postcards to others with pride. 

 

When I got the mail on Saturday I was met with the usual suspects—junk mail, bills, and flyers.  I was thinking how nice it would have been to have received a letter or card.  Sometimes I crave that paper sunshine. 

 

I know that personal letters are a thing of the past, especially with the advent of email and most recently text messaging.  I don’t even consider time a factor because you have to take time to compose electronic mail as well.  The cost of postage is cheaper than the internet service provider and/or the monthly cell phone bill.

 

A month ago I was feeling really blue.  I actually asked God to send me a sign through the mail to uplift me.  That very day when I retrieved the mail, there was a letter from a former student of mine.  I couldn’t believe it!  God had granted my request.

 

I eagerly opened the letter and was quickly disappointed.  Heather had written to ask me to edit a piece that she was working on (not an unusual thing in my line of work).  She wasn’t writing to provide cheer at all.  I didn’t bother to finish reading it and tucked the letter away. 

 

Later in the week I sat down to begin editing Heather’s piece.  It was the beginning of a chapter from an autobiography that she was writing.  It was about her experience as one of my students!  Her words put a much needed smile on my face.  I was in awe that God had answered my simple request. 

 

If it’s been a while since you sent a real letter to someone, I urge you to do it today! Who knows whose day you could brighten by this seemingly small act.  Hooray for mail!

 

 

There Will Be Blood

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Eliza is taking us back to court.  We found out yesterday when I retrieved the mail and noticed a letter from the court clerk.  Of course she failed to send us a copy of her two page handwritten letter that was dated July 31st.  Sensing that her document was ex parte communication, the clerk kindly sent us  one.

In her letter she alleges the following:

  • She has not been allowed to visit with Evan, I am asking you to please address the situation with my communication with my boys, visitation with Evan… 
  • She has no idea what is going on with Evan, Your honor I just want to know what is going on with my child…Your honor I just want to know that my baby is okay.
  • We are withholding information from her regarding Evan’s treatment, I‘ve asked several times to have a copy of a report or medical record from his doctor but I was denied.
  • We are rejecting her calls, I try to call but my attempts are rejected.
  • We are preventing her from having a relationship with her boys, Your Honor I have cared for my boys as a single parent their entire life almost.  I’m not perfect but my children has always come first.  I love my boys, I’m all they really know.  I have always done my best as a single parent providing and careing [sic] for my children.  I refuse to stop now.  It is very important and necessary for my children and I to maintain our relationship.  I do pray to regain custody of my boys upon my release.
  • I told her that his doctor ordered that Evan not be allowed to visit or communicate with her,  I was informed by Morocco, my boys stepmom that Evan’s doctor has instructed them not to allow me visits or communication with him.  I asked Morocco if she made his doctor aware that there is a court order allowing me permission to have a relationship with my children.

Interestingly enough, she never mentions my husband.  All of her allegations are directed specifically at me.

I am hurt. 

I have behaved pretty admirably under the circumstances.  I have written her numerous letters (over 40, the last one being sent on July 28th) providing her with detailed information about his treatment, even making the three hour trip on two seperate occasions so that I could address her concerns.  When I did in fact send her case summaries from the therapist, they only seemed to upset her.   She felt that they were an attack on her parenting–even though they only addressed Evan’s issues and his treatment plan.

I have helped him write several letters to her, even transcribing them myself while he dictated.  I send her photographs as well as crafts that he has made.  I make sure that they acknowledge her on every holiday–big and small.

Evan’s therapist did say that he was not stable enough to visit her at the inception of his treatment.  She is still sticking with her professional opinion.  Eliza also did not include the reason why Evan is even in a mental hospital in the first place.  She did not tell the judge that her child is suffering from chronic PTSD because of the violence (including the murder that she is incarcerated for) that he has witnessed in her care.  Furthermore, it is a hospital and not a hotel.  We can not check him out at our leisure in order to take him on a 14 hour roundtrip visit to see her.

Ethan has not missed a single visit since the judge ordered that we do so.  I have put 1, 728 miles on my car to date escorting him so that he may spend time with Eliza.  She failed to mention this small detail.

I have arranged outings so that the boys could spend time with their brother.

Eliza has only been able to call that one time.  She told me that her third party caller is unable to call on the day and times that the judge granted her.  To prove this we can request to have our phone records subpoened.  Also, since she left that nasty message in May, we have provided a cell phone number for her to call.  Through Sprint I am able to track how often she calls–which has been none.  We figured that she would try to blame her inability to call on us and agreed that this would be a good way to prove it.

The hospital does not accept collect calls.

Eliza is really paranoid about what we have “told” the hospital about her.  She refuses to believe that much of what has been “told” about her (other than the initial intake interview) came from her own child’s mouth.

I’ve come to the realization that she wants things messy.  Eliza is determined that man, woman, nor child will walk away unscathed.  She wants us all bleeding right along with her.  Unfortunately, we are all casualties of her war. 

She has to have something to keep the animosity brewing so that she can “rightfully” explode once she is released.  Eliza is going to continue to play dirty every chance she gets.  It’s too bad that she sees this situation as “Us( her, her other son, Ethan, and Evan) and “Them (me, my husband, and Nicholas).” 

The spoon I now feed her with will simply become longer.

In the News

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Yesterday my senior class was featured on the local 6 and 11 o’clock evening news!  The broadcast was also on the station’s website.  It was such a neat experience and I was really pleased with my kids!

I received an email about 15 minutes before my class started from the district’s spokeperson informing me that a camera crew was headed my way.  They wanted to spotlight a teacher who was addressing the significance of Obama’s nomination.  Apparently somebody told them about me!

They are writing letters to the presidential candidates to persuade them to give attention to the issues that they feel are essential to their future.  This is a project sponsered by Google and the National Writing Project (I am a teacher-consultant for our local chapter).  The letters will be published on an online forum for all the world to see. 

Next week I have representatives from our state’s Republican and Democratic offices coming to present .  This will provide the students with more insight about each political party and allow them to write a more detailed and knowledgable letter.

I received many job well done calls, texts, and emails from friends, family, and former students who saw us on the news.  It was actually a pretty indepth segment.

However, only three of my colleagues commented on the story–the principal nor the vice principal was one of them!  Over the span of six years my students and I have been in the newspaper twice and covered on the news two times as well.  I have to say that this one was the best.  The reporter did a great job on this story. 

I am really proud of my students!