After a long weekend of “peopling” at events for twelve days in a row, Sunday evening our caravan of SUVs headed to Dallas, Texas for a 6:30PM birthday party at Pappadeux for my TDCJ Holliday Unit client Leantrinette who had requested photography services. Meanwhile, across the street at Pappasitos, a going away party for my niece, Leigh Ann and her daughter, Maddy was going on with retirement party at the same location. Three events at the same time? Yes! It isn’t easy being the Texas Twins ya all.
Arriving and jumping out of my SUV with Cindy while her husband got behind the wheel to follow Leigh Ann, Cindy and I met Leantrinette and her children in the parking lot. This was a surprise birthday party for her mother. We really enjoyed meeting everyone and were hoping our other events across the street were going well without us on site.
Cindy and I spent about forty minutes visiting with Leantrinette and her family capturing photos and visiting awaiting her moms arrival to get photos of the entire birthday party group.The lighting inside Pappadeux was an issue so Cindy decided to move the families outside for group shots. Photography is and can be challenging when trying to capture the perfect shot.
Last week while trying to get four year old twins to pose perfectly in Dallas, my Ellis Unit client was determined for the perfect photo but working with children all of these years has taught us to let the children play or do what they want while keeping our cameras in sport mode.
When we are working with large groups, getting everyone facing the camera at the same time especially when children are on site isn’t always possible. Because of this, my twin and I have effectively learned “roll with it” and allow children to express themselves naturally rather than instructing them to smile or pose on location. Letting children play and have fun together rather than trying to offer direction is the best way of capturing their personalities on film. Leantrinettes children and their cousins were happy and playful. Running from Pappadeux to Pappasitos since all of our SUVs were on site at Pappasitos, Cindy and I said a quick goodbye to Leantrinette and her mom after group shots to see how things were going at Pappasitos. A text had alerted me to the possibility of one of the retirement party guests having a “few too many” so I was anxious to get back across the street and address the issue.
One of our clients at the retirement party had a bit too much Tequila and needed a cab. This happens at events with alcohol frequently so it’s essential that getting anyone home safely is planned well in advance. Thankfully, the retirement party went on without further interruption.
Meanwhile at Leigh Ann’s going away party, her daughter, Maddy was having a great time. My other niece, Stephaney and her twin daughters love Pappasitos. It’s rare we have three events at the same time within a block of each other but, I always try to factor distance from Event A to Event B due to travel time. When Leantrinette needed a photographer on short notice, I had already decided that being within close proximity to the other celebrations would make everything work.
Driving home with Cindy, Steve, Maryssa and Stephaney in my SUV, I saw a text from my Wynn Unit client that read “do you have time to talk?” I called her back on Bluetooth and spent forty minutes going over the reasons I would contact the Unit and cancel her wedding. This call was rare in that it’s not often I instruct clients not to marry. In general, all of my clients are determined to marry. But now and then, when I hear the details, I give solid reasons for my clients to step back and re evaluate. I also give them my reasons for doing so.
An interviewer surprised that none of my Prison clients had divorced point blank stated “Wendy isn’t it true that even after marrying your clients that they contact you for advice and insight?” The answer was “yes, that it is true because my clients often have very little support on the outside.”
I’m everyone’s mother. I never stop taking their calls and I don’t want anyone I’ve ever married to regret their decision to marry. Because of my firm belief that it’s far easier to marry than divorce, I will always advise any of clients with cold feet to hold off.
After listening to the history of my client and the inmate, alarm bells were going off not only with me but for everyone in my SUV. Apparently, this offender has a history of violence and drug abuse.
My client has a child and she had previously believed that “the inmate would change.” After a recent visit at the Unit and subsequent two hours of verbal abuse from the inmate, my client like myself no longer believes this to be true.
Driving back to Fort Worth, I continued to listen and grow even more concerned. Twenty three minutes into the call, I advised Melissa not to marry this inmate. “He calls up to thirty times a day which is very expensive. He’s demanding, angry and manipulating.”
The list continued to grow. From demanding phone calls to accusations of infidelity and even having other inmates loved ones calling Melissa when she didn’t take his calls, this inmate was attempting to control her entire life “from the inside.”
I told Melissa “he is thoughtless and has a history of violence towards you. He is destroying your emotions and your finances aling with any degree of peace or joy in your life. He is also not “the one.”
Giving her a moment to grasp the reality and extent of control that was occurring with this inmate, I strongly advised Melissa “you must put your own needs first. You must put your child’s needs by far above the inmates. You must also change your phone number and move forward in your life. I will contact the Unit and cancel your paperwork. When you find Mr Right, call me. I will marry you myself.”
The plumbing at Cindy and Steve’s house was on the fritz due in part to having all three of her granddaughters as well as both of her daughters and her son in law, Alex and Cindy’s husband Steve in the same house. The shower wasn’t working Saturday morning which caused a great deal of chaos. I attempted to find a plumber but because we were off site all weekend working and Leigh Ann was moving to California on Monday, Cindy decided to wait until today to locate a plumber. She also instructed her entire household to “bathe in the pool.” Being overwhelmed is a constant factor at my sisters house and in her life. She has a peanut gallery of people living under her roof.
Monday morning with a heavy heart, I drove to Weatherford to help pack up Leigh Ann and Maddy’s room. The loss of Maddy in Cindy’s house would be immense. I knew it. Cindy knew it. We also knew that Alex cannot pack a vehicle. How so? Three years ago, Alex attempted to pack a VW Jetta and it would be Cindy and I (as usual) who finally got the car packed for Leigh Ann and Alex.
Arriving at Cindy’s, there were bags everywhere. After seeing just how many items Leigh Ann WANTED to take and what would fit, I drove to Walmart and bought vacuum bags. Cindy began emptying the Ross bags Leigh Ann had filled while I began loading the vacuum bags. It was exhausting.
Leigh Ann and Alex had waited until the last minute to even begin packing. When I tell you my family is unorganized without Cindy and I taking the wheel around here, I’m not kidding. With my dog, Foxy who had ridden with me to Weatherford for a 2PM vet appointment running wild and watching Maddy play with him while my twin grandnieces, Maryssa and Makenna cried about losing Maddy moping around the house, Cindy and I continued to get the work needed completed. Leigh Ann and Alex must check in at San Diego on August 31st. Leigh Ann and Alex were busy trying to add more items that were never going to fit without the use of vacuum bags. Their other household items are in Navy storage in Oxnard. Thank God the Navy packs and moves for them because if they didn’t, Wendy and Cindy would have to drop everything and go move Leigh Ann and Alex just like we move my son and his wife.
Alex arrived at DFW three weeks ago. Three weeks ago, Cindy and I knew we would lose Maddy. The baby who brought joy into Cindy’s home and our lives. We knew this day would come and yet we were unprepared for the sense of loss telling Maddy “goodbye for now.” We both worried about not being there to give sage advice about swimming lessons or worrying about Maddy falling or wandering off while Leigh Ann was busy shopping or preoccupied. We both strongly discussed the importance of watching Maddy at all times. Cindy and I were even more concerned when Alex was loading a few items Sunday morning and allowing Maddy to wander around in the driveway. Cindy had been backing out of the garage when her daughter Stephaney screamed “Stop! Stop! Stop!” Cindy was on her Bluetooth with her husband, Steve at Lowes trying to buy items to repair the shower and didn’t see Maddy walking behind her SUV. Poor Alex who hasn’t been around Maddy in two and a half years has no idea of how quickly taking your eyes off Maddy can turn into a dangerous situation. But, Cindy and I took this moment to advise both he and Leigh Ann that “nothing is more important than watching Maddy.” Alex loves Maddy but Maddy has had our entire family watching over her for three years. Maddy won’t have twin MiMi’s or twin cousins looking after her in California. Maddy will only have Alex and Leigh Ann. Am I worried about this? Yes. There are valid reasons I stood in Cindy’s driveway yesterday going over what not to do with two parents of a precarious and curious toddler who is a handful. The reasons are that Cindy and I won’t be there “watching over Maddy.” Leigh Ann is accustomed to our entire family watching Maddy. Alex isn’t accustomed to his young daughter saying no to everything he asks her to do. This is going to be a transition ya all. A huge transition. With their SUV finally packed, I went over removing electronic devices at the hotel there prevent a break in. I went over putting Maddy in the car seat before doing anything else. I went over putting Maddy in her stroller at the hotel. I went over using a buggy at grocery stores to keep Maddy from running off. I went over making sure Maddy can’t open doors by using the child safety locks Cindy had packed. I went over that Maddy needs constant attention at all times especially in public where she could wander off. Cindy went over never letting Maddy out of their sight. We both cried with Maryssa and Makenna and Stephaney while Maddy waved “bye see you soon.” My son and his wife are at their OB/GYN appointment this morning to check her pregnancy. I’m waiting and writing this blog while answering emails and worrying about Maddy. They made it to the hotel. Steve left for Canada at 6AM Monday. He’s on the road and worried about coming home to “no Maddy.” He will miss her. We all will. Good grief I’m heartsick as is Cindy.
I’m leaving my son and his wife’s appointment to pick up my Roach Unit client, Ashley who is afraid to drive in downtown Fort Worth to drive her to the clerks office myself to buy her marriage license.
My schedule is jam packed and I’m working a California trip into October before Leigh Ann and Alex move to Point Mugu. Leigh Ann will almost certainly return to Texas for the holidays while Alex is on sea duty. Our homes are so empty without Maddy.
Please keep my beautiful Michael Unit bride in your prayers as she continues her treatments. We love you Carmela.I’ve been emailing and calling plumbers since yesterday morning. Getting a plumber isn’t easy. Cindy and Stephaney attempted to repair the shower themselves with disastrous results last night. The end result? Cindy called the city to turn off the water. Ugh.
Having plumbing problems and missing Maddy aren’t helping Cindy’s stress levels. My husband is on vacation next week an I’m on site at five different Units. My husband doesn’t understand my schedule or what I do. My husband has decided to join me at Hilltop Unit on Tuesday and Buster Cole Unit on Friday. Cindy will be rolling with me on Wednesday to Roach Unit to finally marry Ashley and on Thursday to Connally Unit to marry Victoria.
Well the trip to the clerks office with Ashley was a bust because the clerks will no longer accept a notarized copy of the inmate ID. Clients, please make sure your inmates ID is on the TDCJ issued Offender Identification Certification Form photo of the ID. This form must be notarized. Here’s a sample photo of the correct form. Ashley called inmate records regarding getting another ID on the correct form only to learn that the inmate had Chained Out of Roach Unit so we will be following the groom again. Many Chain Outs are occurring in Texas. Please verify prior to visitation to ensure the inmate hasn’t been put on a chain ya all. The likelihood is high right now due to Trusty Camp closures.
As usual, I’m on the run and returning calls to clients and plumbers. I haven’t heard from Leigh Ann and Alex. They were in New Mexico last night. Hopefully, a plumber gets to Cindy’s house soon because four females and no running water are a volatile mix…