I’m OCD. I make lists. I review these lists over and over again. But even I cannot predict people. Since Wednesday I’ve been on the road bouncing from one event to the next city while on conference calls with the kids or my clients.
On Thursday, I traveled back to DFW to meet Cindy after stopping by my home to have a quick lunch with my husband who had been “cooking all day because he was bored. I’m so used to working everyday that a day off especially with you traveling is boring.”
My husband is a really good cook and while I’m still working on losing the few pandemic pounds I’ve put on the past 8 months is important to me, I indulged “just a bit” in my favorite holiday foods before I picked up my niece, Stephaney at the group home on my way to Parker County.
My niece had always been close to my son prior to his marriage. She blames his wife for the rift between them rather than her own behavior and choices. Listening to her complain about my son choosing his wife over her is an ongoing headache for me. I pulled up in front of the group home and called Stephaney who wasn’t there. Ugh. I called her. “I’m at the park down the street. Pick me up over here.”
Driving to the park in a not so nice area of Fort Worth, I pass homeless people. I see several men standing around the only convenience store open drinking out of paper bags before spotting Stephaney walking towards me. I’m instantly depressed to see my niece carrying a paper bag containing a forty. It’s Thanksgiving. Cindy and I are the only people who will even speak to my niece and she’s drinking?
I look at her and say “there are open container laws in Texas. You aren’t getting in my suv with that drink in your hand. Go throw it away.” My blood pressure is already going up.
Stephaney gets in but she isn’t happy about my rules. I don’t care. She reaches for my radio to change my favorite 70’s channel. This always annoys me. Why do passengers feel entitled to taking over the radio? I have no idea but I ignored the channel she decided on.
“Where are we going first?” I tell her I’m doing an elopement at the Parker County Courthouse then planning to meet Cindy at Film Alley. Cindy has been cooking with Steve. The twins are picky eaters. Makenna is working 4-midnight at McDonald’s. Maryssa is off until Friday at her job. It will be her first full day on the job. Neither of the twins are taking calls from Stephaney after her past relapse. In fact, Cindy and I are “catching flack” from my niece, Leigh Ann, my son, Robbie and the twins about having anything to do with Stephaney. We are both sick and tired of everyone who isn’t doing anything to help Stephaney complaining about what we do to try and help. This conflict has been going on for years now amongst our family members. Cindy sends a text “Leigh Ann is on the phone complaining that Stephaney is going to the movies with us. I’m so sick and tired of dealing with their anger. We are the only ones in the family that she has. If she relapses again, I’m out. I can’t handle any more of this. Last year I was in Harris Hospital not expecting to leave. I want peace. I want the other kids to stop complaining too. I’m doing the best I can. I look at FB and see happy families who are happy to be together then I look at our family. I’m depressed.”
I think about this. She’s right. Social media would have everyone thinking or assuming that other people have perfect lives. No one has a perfect life. I remind my twin sister of her own quote “things don’t have to be perfect to work. You can still eat dinner with a bent fork. You nearly died last year. I’m thankful you didn’t. We cannot control Stephaney or the other kids. We can control how we react. We can control being enablers. We must let her know we are drawing the line and stick with it.”
I leave the gas station in Willow Park that’s closed. Stephaney needs cigarettes. I know I shouldn’t be buying cigarettes for her but what the Hell. I prefer she smokes cigarettes than weed or meth.
My clients are already at the courthouse and excited. They have been together for 8 years and have 3 children. I’ve packed my suv with everything they need including a 5ft veil for the bride and a baptism gown for her three year old son.
The courthouse in Parker County is a beautiful building that somewhat reminds me of the Munsters House. I have no idea why but it does.
Leaving the town square to head to Film Alley, my niece wants to go to IHOP. I didn’t know they were open and we are an hour early for “War With Grandpa” so we roll in. The Christmas tree in the lobby with face masks for decorations depresses the heck out of me.
I answer texts, emails and DM’s from client’s. One of my clients tells me that “CDCR promised video visitation would be working and it isn’t. What can I do?” I send her the information she needs and move to the next DM. It’s from my Green Bay Unit bride telling me happy Thanksgiving and thanking me for getting her married. Many of my clients contact me on Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years as well as my birthday to wish me well. My clients are amazing, thoughtful, and a gift.
One of my clients who was duped by a Don Juan and wound up on a path of self destruction for several months also sent me a DM. “Miss Wendy I’m entering treatment. I’ve decided to get sober. Thank you for always taking my calls and messages even when I was strung out and especially when I was suicidal at all hours of the night. You are the mother I never had. I’m going to get clean this time and stay clean.” My heart hurts reading this as I sip my IHOP coffee. I pray for the best but always prepare for another relapse with Brandi. This isn’t her first time.
Brandi reminds me of my niece, Stephaney with the difference being that Brandi has no one. Stephaney has Cindy and I. Brandi changes her phone number constantly so I update her latest cell phone number in my phone.
Brandi was one of two women who fell for an Ellis Unit inmate who upon release was physically violent with Valerie who called me immediately even though Cindy and I were in California for information to get a restraining order and divorce.
Valerie celebrated Thanksgiving with “a new love.” I’m praying he’s Mr Right for Valerie. I will marry them if he is. Valerie has three children and a mother she also supports so the last thing she needs is yet another Mr Wrong in her life. I glance at her FB post and smile. She looks happy. I’m happy for her. Valerie works two jobs to take care of her family. She deserves happiness.
The journalist who traveled with Cindy and I to several Units last year sent me a text about my Polunsky bride. “She’s not responding to my messages and I’m getting everything ready for the editor to publish. Can you message her?”
I send a quick message to Lastacia. I’m so proud of her. Like all of my client’s Lastacia is independent, driven and dedicated. A loving mother and devoted wife whose husband finally came home a few months ago. They are happy. I’m happy for them. Lastacia immediately answers my message and will contact Ella. I then remember that Lastacia sells weaves and ask “if she can order weaves for Cindy and I? Everything we buy online is the wrong color.” I’m mailing Lastacia a piece of a broken weave Monday. I believe in supporting my clients.
Misty sends me a message. Her husband came home last year. They are happy and well adjusted. I’m happy for them. I’m mailing her a few of our designer face masks Monday because she like me “believes this mask mandate is going to be going on for awhile.”
Misty asks about my grandniece, Maddy and Leigh Ann who took her bridal photos. She is proud of the twins who are now both working. I am too. The twins are planning to buy their own car. They are independent. Makenna already pays her own cell phone bill.
I have an email from Deanna. Burt and Deanna lost their baby, DeLilah to trisomy two years ago. They’ve found a surrogate and are expecting in the next 6-8 weeks. I’ve been asked to baptize their daughter. Of course, I’m thrilled and honored.
My other couple who quite sadly lost their baby last year have a new healthy boy this year. I couldn’t be happier for them.
Juggling client’s from Federal Prisons back onto the schedule is and continues to be an issue at Fort Worth FMC. Please be aware that Tiger King is at this facility. Allow enough additional time to be screened and checked in and remember that we cannot control Covid guidelines. Do not become visibly upset about non contact limitations. We must always follow guidelines, policy and protocol. Emotional outbursts are upsetting to staff and other inmates. As my client, I’m expected to keep you calm and within the guidelines.
Press and journalists aren’t your friends. If someone is contacting you, get a contract outlining what they can or cannot publish. Limit interviews. As usual, there are production companies posting that they are “casting a show.” Folks there’s a tremendous difference between “casting” and “pitching.” If someone is contacting you because they found you in a prison support group or on other social media such as Instagram, be cautious and don’t sign anything simply because the person contacting you pressures you to do so. Production companies secure the talent and often do so by using an entirely one sided talent agreement. If you have questions, contact me.
This Thanksgiving was odd because it was different but walking into the movie, one tradition was still being followed. Cindy and I have always gone to the movies on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We skipped the popcorn.
The movie had a few funny moments but the concept of a grandson doing things that were hurtful wasn’t funny to me. We have an elderly man who lost his wife moving in with her daughter and family and a grandson upset about giving up his room. The funny parts were with the husband getting “flashed” by the grandfather.
The dynamics of families today and especially families moving in a parent isn’t lost on me. My brother and his wife moved my father in with them. Having another family member live with you IS AN ADJUSTMENT.
This is our first holiday without Foxy. I miss him but we won’t be getting another pet. Matthew and I both work too much and the freedom of being able to travel since we are now truly empty nesters along with the fact that my husband “cannot handle losing another pet in this lifetime” are why we both decided not to get another pet.
Leigh Ann called me last night while I was in the Hill Country at a wedding where (as usual) the florist forgot bouteniers. “I can’t FaceTime mom without the cats getting in front of her. It’s so funny.”
Cindy was always “anti pets” at her home UNTIL the twins both wanted cats last year after her surgery.
Of course, Cindy is very fond of both cats and became the cat lady quickly. She prepares special meals and loves on the cats the twins wanted but have no time to feed or care for while working and going to school. Cindy buys cat toys all the time. Maddy and my grandson still play with Foxy’s toys. My husband and I decided to leave Foxy’s things in all of the rooms of our house. I know it sounds odd but my grandniece and grandson prefer Cindy’s cat toys and Foxy’s dog toys to the toys we both keep for them. I have no idea why.
One of the cats is so ugly that people visiting Cindy ask “what happened?” My sister calls this cat “street cat” because he looks like he’s had a tough life. Makenna adopted him because she knew no one else would. Street cat is a fat cat. He’s loving and follows Cindy everywhere.
If you are FaceTiming Cindy at home one of those cats is going to jump in front of her or on her lap. I never expected my sister to “warm up” to pets. Her motto prior to these cats was always “I take care of everything around here. I don’t need another responsibility. No pets.” She’s changed and she spoils those cats endlessly.
Cindy is also as excited as I am that Leigh Ann and Maddy will be back in Texas Christmas Day.
Bookings with Leigh Ann for mini photo shoots are being scheduled through Leigh Ann. You can find her page on FB, Maddie & Me Photography.
I can’t wait to see my grandson, Oliver again. He’s almost crawling and my son (like Cindy and I did for so many years) takes Oliver to work with him. Robbie and Stephanie are rocking parenthood and their clients like ours have accepted that bookings are a family affair. The twins traveled with Cindy and I for years until branching off and booking Princess parities prior to taking on their jobs outside of Texas Twins Events.
Working with family can be chaotic, fun and sometimes stressful but we’ve always worked it out. Maddy thinks any camera on location is meant for her so get ready for my grandniece to jump in on those wedding photo’s saying “cheese” on location from December to February while Leigh Ann and Maddy are “back home.”
As always, I’m thankful for my clients, my connections and creating a business that allowed me to share your joy at your life event.
Bookings for Vow Renewals and early release inmate weddings that had been planned on the inside that are now being planned on the outside, January still has a few openings for Fort Worth and Dallas. I’m in Beaumont twice in February.
As we continue to wait for visitation to reopen at State, ICE and County Jails across all of our service area states, I pray that your holiday weekend is blessed AND not stressed…