Thank You Alana

ththyou

My sister Alana always makes time to come see me. When I was in AZ she flew from CA to see me on my birthday. Then she flew back home that night. I asked her, “Why spend all that time and money for just a few hours to visit?”

She said, “Because it’s your birthday and I didn’t want you to spend it alone.” Awww…my heart melted.

Now here we are, 7 years later. Alana spent two weeks in WA visiting friends and family as she shows off her two beautiful babies.

Walker, Me, Mom, Alana, Logan
Walker, Me, Mom, Alana, Logan

During the course of her busy schedule, she managed to fit me in, not once, not twice…but THREE times!

I got to meet my niece, Logan Elaine, for the first time. She’s 4 months old. Absolutely adorable.

2013 (3)

Walker is getting so big and smart. He’s now 27 months old.

Alana’s efforts to keep us all connected doesn’t stop with visits only. I can see she talks to Walker about “Uncle Steven” a lot. When I first walked into the visiting room, I saw Walker playing in the kids area. I walked up to him, crouched down and asked, “Whatcha doin’?”

He said, “Waiting for Uncle Steven.”

I said, “That’s me! I am Uncle Steven.”

I opened my arms for a hug. To my surprise, he dropped the toy and jumped into my arms. I felt the immediate connection even though he didn’t recognize me by face. The second he realized I was “Uncle Steven”, he associated everything Alana had told him about me. And from that second on, we were inseparable.

***

I asked Alana to share her perspective of our visits. This is what she wrote:

Thank you Uncle Steven…for being the best Uncle a kid could have. The most amazing thing about Uncle Steven is, he doesn’t let the constraints of his environment limit his role in the lives of his nieces and nephew. Yes, I talk about Uncle Steven in between visits, and yes, I show the kids pictures of him. But I feel they remember him because of the times they have spent together. For a full three hours, he is so attentive, compassionate, playful, and in-tune to their needs.

Every time we go to visit (and there can be months in-between) he and my son Walker pick up right where they left off. Walker gets so excited to go to Uncle Steven’s house and play with all his toys. After our last visit, when we were saying our goodbye’s, Walker said to him, “Uncle Steven come with?” I know the feeling Walker, momma wants Uncle Steven to come with, too.

It is so heartwarming to sit back and watch how he can so intuitively relate to our children. I think this is partially because he is just a big kid himself. Also, I think it has a lot to do with the love and guidance he wished he had received as a young boy. He feels it so deeply and has meditated on how and why he is in prison that he just gets “it”. “It” being that children need love, guidance and discipline, not punishment and ridicule.

He is able to curb a tantrum and still craftfully get the kids to comply with a request that they initially have strongly protested. For example, Walker needed to wash his hands but did not want to. Uncle Steven took Walker over to the drinking fountain and showed him how cool it was that the water could shoot out of the spicket. Before you knew it, they were playing in it and then Uncle Steven asked if he would wash his hands, and he did…with a smile. 🙂 He used his compassion and understanding to guide his actions. The list goes on of those types of examples. He is truly a role model and a gift to me.

He and his fiancé, Suzie, have talked about having children of their own. This could be a very controversial decision…not could be, it is. I have gone back and forth on how I feel about it. On one hand, you may think a child needs their parent day-in and day-out. You may think a child needs Daddy to go to ALL their baseball games, wrestling matches, parent-teacher conferences, dance recitals, etc. You may think that a child needs their parents to tuck them in at night, throw a baseball with them in the back yard and show them the wonders of the world. This is true, no doubt…my question is, what child really has this luxury?

Most parents work full-time jobs, have other obligations, go out on deployment for months on end, or travel for work. Some children even live in single parent households, have an absent parent (whether they live in the house or not) or even worse, have abusive parents. My point is, ideal parenting isn’t always the reality of parenting. At the end of the day (and on the other hand) what children need are loving, compassionate, guiding and nurturing parents. They need parents who will teach them how to be humble, grounded and good-hearted people.

Without a doubt, I know Steven can be this parent to a child, despite the confines of prison. He shows it every time he visits with our kids. Imagine this…his child would get their Daddy’s undivided attention 3 days a week for 8 straight hours…that’s 24 solid hours. Once every 6 weeks or so, they would get to have slumber parties with Daddy for 48 straight hours. During this time they could snuggle, cook, play catch, watch movies and eat popcorn. He could tuck them in at night physically. On the nights he wasn’t there, he could call them and do it over the phone. They now have email access and the ability to receive videos. Soon, there will be virtual visiting capabilities (much like skype).

All this is great and would allow for, in some cases, more hands on parenting than some parents get in a “normal” situation. Most importantly, however, Steven’s child would see his father, a man, who loves and respects their mother with all of his heart. Because of how I see my brother interact with my children and the way he treats me and all the other women in his life, I have no doubt that any child who choses him as their Daddy would be blessed with a great Daddy.

Author: Steven & Suzie Jennings

She was raised as a Mormon, and he is a convict serving 43 years in prison. This blog offers a glimpse into two vastly different worlds that somehow came crashing together. Join them on their journey through prison life & married life.

4 thoughts

  1. What a beautiful commentary. Steven has obviously learned the lessons he was supposed to during his time in Stone City. He deserves the chance at a new life, a new beginning, and the opportunity to fulfill his dreams. May your dreams come true, Steven.

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