Sunday, December 13, 2020

Success Stories

Growing up as a child, I lived in a home with parents that were alcoholics and very abusive to each other and to their four sons. It seems to me, looking back on those years, that what I endured in that house appeared normal - even though I hated it.

My father was a farmer outside a small West Texas Town of Slaton. He worked long hours on this farm, and drank whisky while working. By the time I was old enough to see above a cotton stalk, I was in the fields working, in the hog pens slopping, or in the chicken house shoveling manure. When I would not, or could not work as hard as he thought I should, I was punished by being stripped from the waist down and beaten by extension cords, a board, or switches to the point where blood ran down my legs. He wasn’t only hard on me, but my brothers and my mother were dealt with by the same iron fist. Dad was a hard worker and he demanded the same from everyone in his household - OR ELSE! He passed from this life in January of 1993 from a massive heart attack.

My mother was a housewife. She had a problem with alcohol too, and it was not uncommon to see her drunk, lying on the floor naked and cursing everyone around her. If we kids got within striking distance, made too much noise, left a toy on the floor, or didn’t do our chores, she would beat us with whatever she could find. Then, feeling sorry, she would undress us to doctor us. She would then perform sexual acts on me and my little brother. I remember at some of the parties, some of mom’s friends would come into my room and sexually assault me. Weekend after weekend, I would be in my bed and for the fear and the pain I experienced for one certain couple. I remember going and telling my mom and dad they were hurting me. I was beaten so badly that I was not allowed to go to school for two weeks. Dad said it would be much worse the next time I told a nasty lie. This one man I speak of was a Juvenile Detective who could do no wrong in the sight of my parents. I was made to spend the night with this cop, so he could help my parents deal with my disobedience. All kinds of horrible acts went on in that house at night, I was threatened with death or jail if I said anything about what went on.

This continued on through my freshman year in high school. At the age of twelve, I was offered a joint at school. I soon discovered, if I was high enough, the things being done to me did not bother me quite so bad. So, in order to stay high, I started stealing money from mom, neighbors, or anyone who got close enough to support my high. By my freshman year, I was breaking into houses and local stores so I could continue to smoke. By ninth grade, I started hitch hiking around the United States, selling my body for drugs. In 1982, I robbed a man in a motel room to whom I was selling my body. As a result, I was placed on six years probation. However, by this time my drug use became more intense. I was main lining every drug I could get a hold of cocaine, speed, methamphetamines and heroin. In November of that year, my probation was revoked and I was on my way to prison.

In February of 1984, I was back on the streets and had a young girl pregnant by the summer of that year. In November of 1984, I was the proud father of a son. I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to be like my father, nor was I going to allow Judy to be like my mother. She wasn’t. But, as it has turned out, I wound up being a worse father than my dad ever dreamed of being , not physically but mentally. My children have watched their father steal, rob from them, or anyone else I could think of to maintain my running and hiding inside a needle or a crack pipe. They have watched me come to prison five times. While I have been in prison, their mother had to play the role of their father too.

In 1990, I landed a job at Pride Refinery as an Industrial Insulator. Financially, the four of us were living better than we had ever lived. Judy had talked some of their friends into selling us a house. I had a fairly nice pickup, and she had a Ford LTD. It was not new, but it was nicer than any car we had bought up to this time. I called Curtis-Mathis and they furnished the whole house for a weekly fee. The boys had nice clothes, and it actually appeared that I had finally overcome my devastating childhood.

In the summer of 1990,I started smoking crack cocaine on the weekend. Well, this did not last long before I faked a injury and started drawing workers compensation. I spent every week check, plus what I sold out of the house, on crack. Well, it was not long before the people selling us the house wanted to evict us for not making our monthly payments. By this time, I was dodging Curtis-Mathis for I had sold nearly all of their property. We moved to an apartment across town with nothing left but our cloths. I continued to smoke crack, steal and rob.

During all this, I was seeing a doctor for my back. One day during an appointment, I told him I was having trouble sleeping. He gave me a prescription for sleeping pills. After leaving his office, I picked up a case of beer and began to drink. By 10 p.m. that night, I was too drunk to even walk. I remember sitting there in the kitchen arguing with Judy about our situation, living in a vacant, roach infested apartment and couldn’t even make our rent payments. The police were looking for me for forgery and selling rented property. We had no food for the kids and I was still doing drugs. Judy went to the restroom and while she was gone, I got the sleeping pills down from the icebox. I took the whole bottle. At this point, I thought death would be the answer to my wife’s, kids’ and my problems. I passed out on the kitchen floor and stayed out for seven days and nights. I vaguely remember Judy holding my head up and pouring water down me. When I woke up, I wasn’t even scared. In fact, I was sort of disappointed I was not dead.

One day, not long after this, we found ourselves locked out by the apartment manager. So we wound up staying with Judy’s parents until she could get on HUD housing. This took about six months. I continued my drugs habit while making bonds for my crimes. I made three bonds. The week Judy received her apartment from HUD, I was busted for robbery, taken to jail, and received a $100,000 bond. Well, needless to say, I was unable to make that bond. After two months in the county jail, my lawyer was able to get my bond reduced to $25,000. After saving my weekly compensation checks I was able to make that bond. I stayed out of jail for ten months, and in January of 1992, I received a 25 year sentence with two 10 year sentences running concurrent. I stayed in the county only nine months because there were drug dealers in there that wanted me dead for ripping off their drugs.

The first part of October of I 992, I was transferred to the Diagnostic Unit of the Texas Department Corrections where I stayed for three weeks before being assigned to the Eastham Unit, better known as "The House of Pain". And, you can believe that it holds up to its name. I walked on to Eastham the day before Thanksgiving 1992, but for some reason, I did not feel very thankful.

The very next night would be remembered as the worst Thanksgiving I would, or could, ever have. That Thanksgiving night my celly was paid two cans of smokes to let two men come and rape me. Fight as I did, only proved of the many beatings I would take over the next few years. Those two men put thirteen stitches below my waist, twenty seven stitches in my head, and above both eyes. After ten days in Galveston’s John Sealy Hospital, I was sent back to Eastham and put back on the same block. Nothing had changed the ten days I was gone except two faces, the ones who had raped me. They had been sent to another unit. After I healed physically, I was told that if I did not want that to happen again all I had to do was ride with certain black gang and I would be protected. However, I had to look out for certain members to pay for this protection. This was not new for me. My body had been used and abused my whole life many, many times for many reasons. This time, it would be used to survive where I seen men suffer badly on a daily basis.

Then in 1995, I was diagnosed with HIV, and in the summer of 1998, with full blown AIDS. This was not surprising to me because of the things that I was made to do. I had enough! Life wasn’t worth all this pain anymore. I had experienced so much pain for so many years that it seemed to me that I was born to suffer. Granted, I brought a lot on myself, and it was my own fault, but the pain I was experiencing knew no difference. I was tired, very tired! I made up my mind in 1998 not to take the medication that helped keep my immune system built up. So I stopped all medication and did not show up for my lay-ins (appointments) when the doctors wanted to see me. They were getting really mad at me because I kept signing refusals for treatment.

In January of 2000, I was contacted by my mother’s lawyers. They informed me that back in 1993, when my father passed away, I had inherited two forty thousand dollars CDs plus the interest they had earned those seven years. My mother was left in trust of them. Apparently, she and my brothers had been fighting about whether or not to give them to me. The way I understand it, Dad inherited a lot after the owner of that farm passed away, leaving mom and dad quite wealthy. This was quite some time after I cut all of my family ties. Since I was considered the black sheep of the family, my brothers felt I did not deserve what dad left me.

Mom was diagnosed with cancer late in 1999, so she decided to turn over to me the money they had been fighting about since 1993. I knew nothing about it until January when I was contacted to sign some paper work moving the CDs to a Huntsville bank. Now, I had a way of supporting myself in prison without using the means that had followed me through my life. I still ask the question , why did my dad do that after all the trouble he and I had? I still don’t know the answers to this question. I guess I am just supposed to feel grateful and cherish the love he finally showed for me in his death.

On May 26, 2000, I was given my trusteeship and given a job loading trailers with an industrial loader. This was about the best job I had since arriving in the prison system. My time in prison finally had become a lot easier and I was able to relax a little to contemplate my future.

Well, out of the blue, the last part of July, first part of August, I was invited to join a group called TAX. I knew nothing about this group, but decided to check them out. Well, my first couple of meetings I heard that you did not have to be a Christian to be a member and that sounded good to me. I heard a lot about love, saw dudes hugging each other, and I knew I did not want none of this, love caused too much pain. I had just gotten away for it and I did not want any part of it. But I kept going simply because it was cooler in the Chapel. On our third meeting, they broke the big group up into smaller ones. Their first week’s topic for discussion was "Getting Real." What was real to me was pain, bitterness, anger, depression, hatred, rage and, yes, even loneliness. My life was a total wreck. I did not want to live, but I was too scared to die.

Ms. Sally, my group leader, started talking about her love for Jesus and His love for her. This kind of love was so different from what I had experienced in life that I could not grasp the meaning of this love. But, what really stood out was her belief in what she talked about. I never knew such a love existed and she just glowed as she talked. The love she talked of flowed through her and on to the group, leaving me feeling uncomfortable and confused. Then, a man in the group, who knew that I knew nothing about the Jesus she spoke of, asked her this question, "What if there is someone here that doesn’t know how to believe or doesn’t know what you are talking about?" She started quoting scripture and he kept asking questions. I felt trapped and there was no where to run. Finally, I told Ms. Sally that I was the one of whom Mr. Fox spoke. What did I do that for? She really poured that love of Jesus on then. I could see it in her eyes that what she was saying was deeply rooted in her. I never experienced a love that wasn’t nasty or painful. I did not surrender that night, but I left that meeting a very troubled man.

All that week at work I could not shake their words. One of the things Ms. Sally said before leaving was, "If you want Jesus to make Himself real in your life, He will." How I desperately wanted a friend who would accept me and love me like I saw in Ms. Sally. Someone who was not abusive, mean or painful. That Friday at work, while unhitching a trailer, a trailer pen flew up and struck me in the head, knocking me out. While laying on the ground I felt the weight of an evil presence all over me. I’ve never been scared like I was that day. It is still very hard to describe that evilness I felt. All I know is that I did not want it around me.

The medical Department called the ambulance to take me to John Sealy Hospital in Galveston. On the way, they had me strapped down so tight that all I could do was stare straight up. I started thinking about what I had experienced there on the ground, and I started getting a glimpse of my life. What I saw made me sick. What I believe today is, God was letting me view myself as He did. That night in Galveston, when I was put into a room and left by myself, Ms. Sally’s words came back to me, "Jesus loves you Ronald and He will reveal Himself to you if you want Him to." For the first time in my life, that night I spoke to God. I asked Him, if He was really real and loved me like I had seen He loved Ms. Sally, to make Himself real to me, and I would serve Him the rest of my life. I talked and cried until I fell asleep.

When I awoke the next morning, I felt a peace and a calm that I did not know existed. There was no confusion, turmoil, hatred, bitterness, rage, anger and, most of all, no loneliness. I spent Saturday and Sunday reading God’s word. It seemed to me the more I read, the more I wanted to read. It is still like this today. It is like a thirst I cannot quench. My past has not just gone away, but my worst day in Christ is better than my best day living without Christ.

Today, I no longer have to walk alone in this world. God walks with me every day. When I wake up in the morning, I feel His presence as about me. Even though I have lost my children, wife, mother and brothers and sisters. Today know what love is and it isn’t anything sexual. "God is love" He is the very essence of love. He demonstrates that love in that while I was yet a NASTY SINNER, Christ died for me. If you will accept His love and believe in what He did for us all, you shall not have to pay the price of everlasting hell for your sins, but you will have the eternal life with Christ Jesus spoken of in John 3:16. A Servant of Jesus Christ,

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