This conversation between Demetrius (AKA: Meat) and his son, who he nicknames “Pop”, captures the concern and anguish some incarcerated men have as they try to remain good fathers and maintain a relationship with their families and children. He was assisted in the performance by facilitators Nick and Judy. “M” in the script is Demetrius.
How helpless you feel when you discover your child is suffering because of your mistake and there is nothing you can do to stop the pain…
Around 9 pm last night I called my wife’s cellphone. I dialed her number the same way I’ve been dialing it for the past 7 years. I press “1,” then the area code and number, followed by my 7-digit DIN. Immediately, the automated voice notified me that my call is being processed and the phone began to ring.
As I waited for Christina to answer my call, many thoughts hijacked my frontal lobe and created a familiar feeling of worry:
Is my son safe?
Is my Grandpa still on life support? How is my family?
I hope she answers so I know she’s okay…
Just as that last thought escaped me, the ringing stopped, and I heard someone answer.
AUTOMATED VOICE: “You have a prepaid call from—M. Demetrius — an inmate at Auburn Correctional Facility. To accept this call press ‘3’. “
M: She pressed “3” and my call was connected.
POP: Hi Dad. I’m so glad you called!
M (to audience): It was my 7-year-old son who surprised me by answering the phone.
Hey Pop! What are you doing still up, isn’t it passed your bedtime?
P: Yes, but Mommy let me stay up because I really wanted to talk to you. I’ve been waiting for you to call all day.
M: You have?
P: Yeah Daddy, can I tell you why?
M: Pop, you can tell me anything you want, buddy, you know that.
P: Dad, I was very sad in school today and I couldn’t stop crying.
M: Why were you crying, Pop?
P: Because I miss you so much and I really want to see you.
M: Oh Pop…I’m so sorry, buddy. I miss you too! But remember you’re coming on a trailer visit with Mommy in December.
P: I know Daddy but I just really want to see you right now. December is forever.
M: Pop, I feel the same way. I miss you so much buddy and I wish December was today. But it’s not, so we have to wait until it gets here and then we can be together. Do you remember what Daddy said about when we miss each other?
P: You said that you need me to be strong when I miss you, and that you’re going to be strong when you miss me, so we are both strong for each other.
M: That’s right Pop! We have to be strong for each other. Are you strong, Pop?
M: Wait a second. You’re strong more than sometimes. What’s your name?
M: Demetrius what?
P: Demetrius Enrico Molina Jr.
M: And what’s Daddy’s name?
P: Demetrius Enrico Molina Sr.
M: And is Daddy strong?
M: That’s right. And since you’re my son and we have the same name that makes us both strong. Ok?
But I wasn’t strong in school today because I cried.
M: Just because you cried doesn’t mean you’re not strong. Everybody cries.
M: Yeah. Do you wanna know a secret?
M: Even Daddy cries sometimes.
P: You do, Dad?
M: Yeah, I cry. When I’m sad because I miss you.
P: I didn’t know that.
M: That’s because I don’t tell people things like that.
P: Well don’t worry Dad, I won’t tell Mommy.
M (laughs): Okay, thank you, Pop. But tell me about school. What happened?
P: I was sad Dad so I started crying. And when Mrs. Davis saw me, she asked me, “What’s wrong?” Judy Comes back on stage and stays to Meat’s left side–and Nick is in chair to Meat’s right.
M: What did you tell her?
P: I told her I’m sad because I miss my Dad.
M: Did she ask you where I was?
M: What did you say?
P: That you are in prison in New York.
M: And what did she say about that?
P: She said she’s sorry and gave me a hug. Judy gives Nick a hug and exits to Right Chairs and Meat follows her and stays on Nick’s Right side. Then said that you might get out soon. And then I showed her 2 pictures of me and you.
M: What pictures?
P: The ones I carry in my backpack everyday. The ones we took before I left NY.
M: I didn’t know you kept pictures in your bag.
P: Yep. But guess what Dad? She helped me write you a letter. Can I read it to you?
M: Yeah buddy let me hear it.
Pop reads the letter:
I really really miss you and wish I could see you. I am at school right now. My teacher Mrs. Davis is letting me write you because I was crying because I miss you. Dad I just really wish you could come home. For my birthday this year Mommy asked me what I want. Guess what I told her.
AUTOMATED VOICE: “You have 30 seconds left on your call.”
I don’t want no presents. I just want Daddy to come home and Grandpa to get out the hospital. I love you Dad.