“Why Do I Deserve You?” By: Adam Lawin
What goes through my father’s head when he drives ten hours to see me every month like clockwork? The first three years passing through Des Moines on his Saturday journey south to Leavenworth, KS. Then weaving through the snow-capped hills when I was transferred north to Sandstone, MN, and the strait-shot west along a flat stretch of Highway 20 when I relocated to the fence-less prison camp in South Dakota.
How did those four years go for him, making that drive? Did he enjoy the change of scenery as he set his cruise control, not having to worry about missing a turn until he crossed state lines?
What goes through my father’s mind when he wakes up at three in the morning to make sure he’s the first person in line at the visiting room, the first man to pass through the metal detector, the first man to get patted down, and, finally, the first man to just get waved through?
What went through his mind when he had to cut costs by foregoing a hotel room and the good night’s sleep that came with it, or when he was forced to trade in his SUV for a Prius and became the butt of jokes for friends and family both? What goes through his mind when he looks up at a clock after seven grueling hours spent squatted on the hard plastic chairs, knowing there was a five-hour journey to get home? And through all this, how does he manage to smile at me warmly?
What goes through my father’s mind when Wednesday comes and he knows he has to get the chores done early because he’s going to spend the weekend with his son at a place where they’re allowed one quick hug at the beginning, and one quick hug at the end of each visit? And what goes through my father’s mind when he wakes up Sunday with a tight, crooked back, worn sore by the hard visiting room seats and the endless car ride?
I don’t know what goes through my father’s mind, but I know what goes through mine. My heart rips with guilt. My last memory of him in the free world haunts me every day. Before I went to prison, we hugged in front of the garage. We hugged with tears streaming down both our cheeks.
He told me, “Son, I won’t be alive when you get out.”