Imagine six years of life where your movements are controlled, where you have no privacy, where you can make phone calls out but no one can call you, your mail is read prior to you receiving it, where you can never go visit, but must wait for people to visit you. That is the life my son led from the time he was 24 years old until he was 30.
When he received notice in December that he had received parole he began counting down the days. March 20th seemed like it was in the distant future for him. For me it went fast. I was trying to get things done prior to his release, and of course I made the six hour drive to pick him up.
Patrick was released from Newberry Correctional Facility in Michigan’s upper peninsula at 8:00 am March 20, 2018. Although he is on a tether for the first six months of his two year parole, and he must abide by curfews that in the beginning are tight, it is considerably better than the spot he was at. So how did Patrick spend his first day of freedom?
I picked him up at the correctional facility, we loaded his belongings into the car and than took our last two prison photos, a “selfie” of the two of us, and then one of him in front of the facility. Every time I (and my now deceased husband) visited we paid to have photos taken of us together and one of Patrick alone, so this was our last prison photo shoot.
Our first stop was a gas station/McDonald’s combination where he got a McGriddle sandwich — also one of my favorites. When he asked if he could have bacon added to the sandwich the girl responded “you can have whatever you want” and Patrick responded “those are words I’m not used to hearing.”
I had purchased him a cell phone, but phones have advanced considerably in the past six years. He was on the phone talking as we were crossing the Mackinac Bridge and I heard him say that the water looked really cool with the ice on it and “if I wasn’t on the phone talking to you I could take a picture.” He got instructions on how to stay on the phone and take a photo at the same time.
Two years ago my husband/Patrick’s father passed away, and I had obtained permission from the parole agent to make a few stops, Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly being one, where Patrick saw his father’s grave-site for the first time.
We then headed to Fort Gratiot, he did not have to check in with the parole agent until the next morning, and we had permission to go shopping at Kohls to get him some clothes and then out to dinner. We ended up spending about three hours in Kohls.
Patrick helped me pick out short outfits for my grandchildren’s Easter baskets, then we shopped for clothing for him. He had changed sizes while incarcerated and had to try on a few things. A pair of tennis shoes, four pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, one shirt (couldn’t find many he liked), some boxers, and socks and we felt he had a nice start. I had already purchased him a nice pair of fleece pants, hoodie, polo, and a v-neck t-shirt prior to picking him up. During our shopping Patrick had to exit the building and stand in an open area of the parking lot so the satellite could take a picture of him/his location. He was told that happens frequently in large department stores or malls if in for a while.
Next stop was Red Lobster. Lobster Fest is going on, and we had the same meal — two different kinds of lobster and green beans with mushrooms, and of course salad and biscuits. The place was quiet, the service was good, the food was fantastic.
We were on our way home when my daughter called and said her boyfriend had the truck torn apart and needed to pick up a hose to complete it, could I swing by, pick him up and take him around the corner to the auto store. I went by her house, dropped off Patrick, picked up Rob and took him to the auto shop, then went back around and dropped off Rob and picked up Patrick and we came home and unloaded the car.
The evening was finished off with Caroline (my daughter) and her three kids coming over for a while, and then Patrick and I watched a bit of TV. It was a wonderful day for me, and I’m sure a great first day of freedom for him as well.