She Doesn't Know Me

January 15, 2008
By Ashleyann Taylor, Clarkston, MI

It was July 14, 1992. It was 3: 15 in the morning, Tanya screamed,” She’s coming”. Tanya had been screaming and struggling for 14 hours. About 20 minutes later, the most beautiful child was born. We named her Janella Novoigtnié Patterson. She was 5 pounds 8 ounces. She was the light that lit the room. I had my first child. I couldn’t believe it! The woman I was soon to marry had my child. I would remember this for the rest of my life!
Today was the day I would soon become a free man. I couldn’t wait. I wanted some home-cooked food for 16 years. Yes that is a long time.
“Move right this way”
“Hey you get back in line”
“Patterson, C234178: today is your day; you will receive your belongings from the lady at the front on your way out the door”
I have been waiting for this moment for the longest. It has been a long time since I have been in the world as a free man. I have been in jail for 16 years. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Jail isn’t the best place to be in the world. I have so rough times. When I first came in they thought I was a softie and when I proved I wasn’t I got in some trouble. After that I gained the respect I deserved. Jail isn’t the place to be. There is so much unexplained boredom and so many things I rather do. There are so many guys that I have heard about and people I used to know I saw in the slammer. I began to think about what went wrong that day an what I could have done to prevent the situation I am currently in. there was so much drama when the whole situation went. I lost so much. I wouldn’t able to see my daughter in her prime. I couldn’t spend time with the women I love. We were planning to get married. I should have stopped hanging around the people I did just like my mom said, but I didn’t listen.

I said,” Thanks and goodbye”, to the people I have spent 16 years of my life with. I walked out the penitentiary to a bright and sunny day. I used to hate how bright it gets down here in Austin, but today I loved it! I missed the hot sun and how high the temperatures get. I missed everything!
My first stop is special. I wanted to go see my mother. She never did know what happened; I just wouldn’t able to stand knowing how disappointed she would have been in me. She didn’t find out until the trial was over and I was already locked up. She came to visit me once, because I told her I didn’t want her to see me like this and she respected my wishes and never came back. She wrote me all the time. She would tell me how she constantly prayed for me. She would write how everybody missed me and how the family has changed since I have been gone. Anyways I know it hurt her as much as it hurt me for us not to see each other. I waited for a friend to come pick me up. His name is Da”Maryon Williams. We have been friends since grade school. He has been the only one who’s had my back. He was the only one in the accident that didn’t get caught and booked. He had me the whole time though. I could count on him for any or everything. He has been there no matter what. Even when it all happened he still tried to cover for me and get me out of the trouble I was in. He got there around 9:32 a.m. he got out the car and took my stuff, put it in the car, and gave me a hug. I missed him and he missed me. He asked me was I ready to see Ma. I said, “Yes”. We parked along the side of the street. I could smell of BBQ in the air. Just from the smell, I knew she had cooked chicken, chitterlings, ribs, greens, and all types of food that I missed with a great deal of passion. I hopped out of the car and I walked up to the door. I knocked, and she opened up the door and she fell into my arms.
“I missed you baby, you don’t even know how much”
“Trust me, I do!”
It was wonderful; every one in my family was there to welcome me home!

When my girlfriend arrived, I didn’t know when she had walked through the door. I was sitting on the couch watching T.V., and talking to my uncle Henry. She Came in and screamed my full name.
“Jason Le’yon Patterson!”
I turned around and stood up. She ran over to me and literally tackled me into the ground. She held me so tight she didn’t let go for about 10 minutes.
“I missed you so much Jason”
“I missed you so much, girl”.
After she finally decided to let go of me there was someone tall and slender behind her. She looked just like me, except she was a female. She favored my mom a lot as well.
“Jason this is your almost grown daughter, you have a lot of catching up to do”.

She looked at me with this face like, wow I finally met you! It was a mind-boggling experience. I was overwhelmed myself. I looked at her like the first time I ever laid eyes on her. Then her expression changed when she finally said hi. I missed out on so much, and I felt like I abandoned my wife and child, my family. I couldn’t hold it in no longer. I grabbed them close and started to cry.
The next few days turned out to be as emotional as the first. I needed to focus and commit to my family. They’ve been without me for so long and I need to double up to make up for my absence. I have been apart of my whole family’s life dramatically ever since I returned to the real world. I was always there. I seen everybody I ever came in contact with. I made sure every one knew I returned. I wanted to honestly change. I want to turn my life around. I go to church every Sunday and Wednesday. I want to join the choir but I don’t think I can sing as people say I can. I can hit a few notes but not as people say I can. I don’t know if they are just happy that I’m back or they are trying to get me to be more active in church. I don’t know
I moved back in with my wife. She cooks for me everyday. My daughter keeps her distance. By looking at her she has a lot of questions but over time she will find them out. That’s part of the process of getting to know somebody. She doesn’t know me, but soon she will! I really feel confident. I really want to get to know my daughter. I remember when I used to place her in my arms and just watch her sleep softly in my arms. It was one of my best moments. She honestly looks like me more and more each day. I never really realized how much a challenge of having a child really is. I do know and I will make sure I do everything to help her grow as an individual and a better person that I ever was. I hate for her life to hit a downwards spiral. I want the best. She will not make the same mistakes I did. What she has that I didn’t, is a loving father. My father never was there for me. He wasn’t there for me when I excelled or when I was in trouble.

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