Thursday, December 23, 2010

Comments From Behind the Fence - 5

Teaching music can almost make a man forget he's locked up. Being involved in one-on-one instruction is very dicey in an environment such as prison requiring adaptability in a way that my contemporaries on the streets might not appreciate. I loved every moment of it.

Being able to play several hours a day really brought my own playing ability along and I feel that my crowning achievement was the guitar solo from Queen's "We Will Rock You." Pulling it off live in front of an audience of a couple hundred inmates goes down as one of my favorite memories during my time down.

Sadly, as this adventure was kicking off, I lost my best friend. Steve and I met in boot camp in the Navy. We've been each others Best Man and our sons were born one week apart. During this chapter in my life, he never wavered in his friendship. then, the same cancer that killed his mother, claimed him. To say I was devastated does not come close.

There are a lot of people who dont think prison is enough punishment. I know this because I was on of them before I ended up here. You have no idea what it is like to lose a person you love and not be able to grieve properly. The callous and unsympathetic types might have a number of mocking comments here, and if that's what you need to feel better about yourself, I feel sorry for you.

I've met a lot of men who know that they've made mistakes in life and want the chance to do better. Some feel that we as a society (meaning inmates) are not rehabilitatable. Not only are you misguided, you are absolutely wrong. But...I wont stay up on the soapbox because people with that mindset are seldom open for rational debate.

Shortly after Steve died, my prison started a hospice program. Knowing that there are men in here that have nobody outside was a real determining factor in my choice to apply. I have family and friends who love me no matter what. I'm lucky.

Being selected as a hospice volunteer was a lengthy process. It required an application as well as being interviewed by the medical and upper-level management staff of the prison. A dozen of us were picked from out of nearly a hundred applicants. During the class, we came up with a motto:

"No man dies alone."

Graduation was bittersweet. I was proud to be a part of the program. And then I realized what it would mean if I were ever called upon.

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