A little history, and please remember as I am sharing this, that Micah told me yesterday in a long conversation that he totally trusted me to tell it. Maybe he really needed me to record it.
Micah and his Dad have a complicated relationship. He is in prison. This was not a story that was new to me as Micah was Greg's (for new readers my son) good friend long before he was Amanda's husband or my son-in-law. I have never met Barry nor has Amanda. Before today, Micah had not seen him in years, though the prison he is in is only a couple of hours from where we live. The fact was Micah really had no desire to see him. He had lots of bitterness from all that his childhood wasn't, if that makes sense. It's far too complicated to explain in a post and I am not the one to even go there. Micah would have to fill in all those blanks and for this story they are not necessary. Micah had a wonderful relationship with his grandfather and now has the same type with my husband. BUT one with his Dad was always difficult.
Fast forward to him marrying Amanda and then the birth of Jack....my little Jack that grabs any and everyone's hearts. When Jack was about six months, I casually asked Micah one day if he minded me writing to his Dad, introducing myself and telling him he had a new little grandson.
He gave me his address a few days later,and that said to me that he wanted his Dad to know about his BOY and that his BOY had a little boy. The first letter started out something like this....Hi, I am Teresa and you don't know me, but we share the same grandson and I would love to tell you about him. At this point I had no idea if I would ever hear from him. Within a week, he wrote me a letter that was 6 legal pages long, thanking me for taking the time to write and YES, he would love to know about Jack. That began what I can only call a pen pal type of correspondence, as I wrote him every week and sent pictures of Jack and all the family. I told him what a fine man and father his son had become. I told him I had not wanted Amanda to marry him and now I could not imagine life without him. I told him about our trips, our day to day life, Jack's antics (which are many)! I shared with him any and everything I could think of that would make him proud of his boy. And somewhere along the way Micah wrote him and they began to correspond, not as often as I was, but at least it was a start. He made us all gifts..He shared with me many mistakes he had made in life, how he wished he could right many wrongs.
I would find myself forgetting that he was in prison. My sole reason for writing was to share Jack with him and at the time did not realize that he lived for my letters and pictures.
This went on for the past 18 months. Several times I mentioned to Micah that one day I hoped that he would take Jack to meet him and EVERY TIME I mentioned it, I got the same answer. NO!....I remember one letter that Barry sent me, he said he understood why Micah did not visit and if all he ever knew about Jack was what I penned on paper, he would always be thankful for that. Micah and I would go months and never discuss it. And I never gave his Dad any hope that he would ever lay eyes on his little grandson. To be honest I never thought he would. Early in our correspondence I had told Micah that his Dad was working for the chaplain and he told me everyone in prison got religion. I told him I thought I could read people and he warned me not to be fooled by his Dad. But I never once sensed that he did not want me to write to him. He wanted his Dad to know about his Jack.
Fast forward to early last week and I get a call from Amanda telling me that Micah is going to see his Dad on Sunday and he is taking Jack. It had been a long time since we had even discussed his Dad. All week, all I could think of would be the look on Barry's face when they told him he had a visitor. Micah had filled out all the paperwork years ago so he was already on the accepted visitors list and little ones Jack's age did not have to be approved..All of this was to be a total surprise..and frankly I was very glad because I was not sure Micah would really do it. We had a long talk on Saturday and I could hear so many things in his voice and in what he said. I heard anticipation and even a little excitement, I heard an anxious man, I heard a little boy that was now a grown man that wondered if he was doing the right thing, I heard someone I loved wanting to have no regrets. He even told me he had worked with Jack teaching him to say Papa Barry. After we hung up, I prayed that it would be everything he hoped it would be.
Still all I could think about was the surprise that was in store for Barry today that he did not have an inkling of. Stay with me...I was keeping Parker today and Micah was here with him bright and early and something in me just knew that he was excited. That's probably a funny word to use, and he may ask me to take that word out. Amanda told me tonight on the drive down he was really nervous about how it would all play out. He may have even wanted to back out. They left Amanda with some relatives and he and Jack drove 20 minutes to the place that his Dad has called home for years. PRISON! That's a word that has many meanings. I know for myself I have been in my own prison many times with no physical walls restraining me and nothing requiring visitors to be searched or turn in their personal items before talking to me. I would imagine that most of us have. I have been a prisoner to bitterness at times in my life. Barry is in a prison with walls and lots of security. I can just picture Micah and Jack making their way through the check points and finally getting to the point where they called his Dad and said "You have a visitor"! His Dad's reaction was "My brother visited yesterday so it must not be me"! Yes, Mr. Strother, there is a visitor for you...these are my words now...and not only one visitor but two.
Meet Jack Strother. Meet your Boy's BOY. Micah said as he walked out he did not see them at first and THEN HE DID. Micah could read his lips or may have even been close enough to hear him say to the guard...."He's beautiful"! I may have to take a break now.
I think for the next 3 hours Barry must have been in total shock. I have a feeling after they left he bawled his eyes out. They stayed the entire allotted three hours. Micah said the guard came and told them when they had 10 minutes left so they could say their good-byes. Jack is far from timid, so he immediately let Papa Barry hold him. In Micah's words to me on the way home there was not one thing negative about the visit. They talked about golf, a love they both share, they talked about current events, and I think they talked about how proud a man in prison was of his son. And that little boy that I had so vividly described to him for the past 18 months, he got to hold and touch and love on...and there may be those that don't agree, some that say he did not deserve that visit or even a chance to meet his grandson or ever see his son again, but for me, I believe God smiled. And who knows, maybe a tiny part of that hole in Micah's heart will start to heal.
This picture is blurry, but they will not let you take camera's in but will make a picture for you. Hopefully I can scan it and touch it up and make a better picture...As you can see Jack is being his funny little self. This kid is a laugh a minute and today he met his other grandfather.