Never Forget

by Harry C. Goodall

I’ll never forget the rst time I saw my daughter. I knew her mother was pregnant but never knew whether she actually had the baby or not. It was a woman I met while selling drugs in another state. I was told that she left Washington and moved to Kansas. That was the end of what I knew about the pregnancy. My stay in that state ended with me coming back to California and getting a parole violation and another year in a California prison. The next time I heard of her was when my friend told me that my kid’s mom had a daughter that looked just like me. That I should go and get her as the woman was addicted to drugs and doing bad. That she was putting my daughter in harm’s way. I called her and we talked brie y and she said that she would send me photos of my daughter. The crazy part was after I gave her mother my address to send me photos and info about my daughter a Marshall showed up at my door with a paternity test.

After reluctantly taking the test it proved that she was my daughter to clear any doubt in anyone’s mind—including my own. The mail nally came and it included pictures of my daughter. I looked at her picture and it reminded me of me when I was a kid. I showed the photo to my family and got mixed responses. Some said that just because she looked like me that it could be a possibility that she wasn’t mine. Others said that she reminded them of me when I was a child. That we had to many similar features for her not to be my child. I tried to remind them of the paternity test and of course some said that the test results could be a mistake. From the word of mouth of a friend I found out that at the time her mother was addicted to drugs at the time and living the party life. I talked to the mother about me raising my daughter in California. She agreed to allow me to come and get her and allow me to raise her. The sad part was in the midst of me going to the state where she resided I got arrested on this conviction that I’m still serving time on. She was two years old when I found out she existed, and now she’s nineteen.

Through the years I had searched to try and nd her as all the addresses that I had were lost in the property that was left behind in society. I was contacted by DCS about child support around eight years ago. I wrote the social worker that was on the child support documentation and asked if I could have an address where she resided. I was told that they would forward my address to her caregiver and it would be entirely up to her caregiver what happened. After a short period of time I received a letter in the mail stating that she [the caregiver] wanted to know more about me and what I was in jail for before she allowed me to be in any sort of contact with my daughter. So I wrote a detailed letter about who I was and why I was in jail. I got a response telling me that I could correspond with my daughter.

I still have the rst letter, and poem I got from my daughter all these years later. She included a picture of her. Looking at a then teenage girl brought tears to my eyes. I realized the beauty I helped create and the confusion I help create by forcibly removing myself from her life. I don’t think anyone can ever explain the pain and felling of abandonment we create in our kid’s life by coming to jail. Most of us live in a time warp not realizing how much time passes while incarcerated. We basically do the same thing day in and out, sort of like the movie ‘Groundhog Day’. Our relationship is still a work in progress and I know she carries a lot of resentment in her heart from me being absent from her entire life. I can’t blame her, as I would feel the same if the roles were reversed. All I can try and do is pray for the day I’m released and be there for her as much as she allows me to.

For those of you who have kids please never give up and think you child doesn’t wonder about you and love you. If you seek you shall nd, even if you don’t you child will eventually seek you out. The effort you put forth can be presented when you nally nd each other. It does not matter what the child mother of in some cases father will allow you to do. Even as an incarcerated parent you do have rights.

Transformation begins when un-forgiveness and bitterness exists.

This is a powerful quote. The fact that I have been in jail for quite a few years some assume makes you bitter whether you allow it to or not. For those of you who have never been in prison, please believe this statement. It’s a constant struggle to try and nd peace of mind in here. Especially if you don’t self-medicate. But it’s that struggle that allows you to gain transformation into the person you’re sure to become. You cannot be comfortable with life or where you’re at in life in prison. Bitterness allows the gateway of transformation to open. And when you’re unforgiving of the circumstances that lead to your incarceration, your healing can begin. See, we just didn’t become criminals or developed or criminal way of thinking overnight. So re- learning to become a productive member of society requires time, and serious effort. It will be a constant struggle of returning to what we have grown accustomed to. Of course some changes are easier than others. This thought process helped me to not be afraid to walk alone. I no longer needed a gang to feel a part of something bigger than myself. I no longer needed alcohol to lower my inhibition to feel con dent in speaking. I no longer needed to feel the more women I slept with made me a bigger man. It wasn’t until I became bitter of where my life currently was that any of this was possible.