What a week! What a wonderful, amazing, incredible, unbelievable, joyous week this has been! And it's just Wednesday!!
If we're friends on Facebook, you already know. Larry paroled Monday morning after 36 years in prison. I know, wow, right?? It don't even make no sense. After endless parole denials, two back-to-back eight-year set-offs (which mean the Parole Board doesn't have to consider you again for eight years. Ouch. Yeah, they hurt.) in 1996 and again in 2004, after everybody told us he'd never get out, he DID. By nothing but the sheer grace of God, he got out.
We'd been working with The Refuge of Hope down in Quitman for nearly five years. It's an aftercare facility for parolees. A place for them to go to get a fresh start, Christian guidance and life skills to help prepare them for life on the outside. They normally take guys who have nowhere to go and no one to go home to. They usually don't take married men who have a home and a wife like Larry does. They accepted us, though, again by the grace of our awesome God.
Larry got saved at a Kairos weekend five years ago and let me tell you, that was what God was waiting for! Things started happening for us and boy, they happened fast. We applied for The Refuge, got accepted and I met with Mr. Andy and Miss Bonnie Squires for supper one night here in Warner Robins. I immediately fell in love with both of them. They are such sweet Christian people who genuinely care about their ministry and these guys whose lives they are changing.
We knew we were going to have to fight. This was a tough decision for the Parole Board to make. Larry had two life sentences plus many years from a crime he committed when he was a young man. It was a tough one. When he came up for parole last year, they set him off one year and we were overjoyed!! That was the second best news we could have gotten! We got a ONE after getting two eights. We started to get excited a little bit. :)
Miss Bonnie continued to fight for us, be our cheerleader, our bulldog, to the Board and she convinced them to let Larry come to The Refuge. Since he'd been in so long, a transitional center was the only option.
So, on March 11th, in the middle of the night, they woke Larry and told him to pack it up, he was transferring. He was nervous. We had been waiting for the Board's decision since January. The next day, they put him on a bus to the Albany Transitional Center, where he was assigned a bed and began orientation. He was there four hours. He was minutes from calling me to tell me he was free when the director came in and told him he couldn't stay, that there had been a mistake. Larry was crushed. They sent him to Leesburg for the night as a sleeper, then the next morning, they put him on another bus to Wilcox State Prison, telling him only that the Department of Corrections had "jumped the gun" and sent him to the TC prematurely. The Parole Board had not finalized their decision.
Larry was not able to call those two days but I got a call from the girlfriend of a guy at Central and she told me they'd moved Larry to the TC that morning. I was hysterical. Ask my mama and sister. Thank God they were the only people I told.
Miss Bonnie called me the following morning and told me that it had been a mistake but that she was hot on their tails about it. I finally got to talk to Larry and was able to calm him down that Thursday, the 14th, and I went to see him that weekend. We were devastated, we didn't understand what was going on, but we recognized it immediately for what it was. A test. God had allowed the devil to test us. He knew what we would do but the devil did not. We cried, we were sad, confused and hurt yet we ran to Jesus with it.
We were at Wilcox for 26 days. In that time, our faith remained strong and we kept praying and praising God. We cried, we laughed, we talked about our future. We prayed together, we had fun together, we drank root beer and had ice cream.
Miss Bonnie called me on Good Friday and told me it was OVER. The Board had voted to parole Larry!! I was on my way to my field trip with my class when I got the call. How fitting that God would allow us to get this most wonderful of news on Good Friday!
We had the news but we still didn't have a date. So still we waited. Until they called Larry up to sign his paperwork and told him the EIGHTH!! Monday.
So now Larry's at The Refuge and he'll be there until January. I have SO much to do before then! There are closets and drawers to clear out and organize to make room for man stuff. :) Larry and I have been together for 25 years but obviously, we've never lived together. I'm going to have a couple of yard sales and make several trips to the Salvation Army. And then there's the La-Z-Boy that has to be purchased for the living room. And there's carpets to steam, a deck to clean and water seal and a house to pressure wash.
I was thinking as I was driving home from work this morning that I am free, too. I was just thinking about what I need to do Friday after class and it dawned on me that I don't have to go to the bank to get quarters for the vending machines this weekend. Wow. I can fill my closet with white shirts now (you other prison wives know what I'm talking about!) and I don't have to fight another blankety-blank guard over one injustice after another. Ever again. Double wow.
I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us! We have wanted this for so long, it still hasn't really sunk in yet. Seeing my baby in a pair of blue jeans sho' does help, though. ;)
Here he is with a Ginger street sign. My favorite picture of the day!