30 years.
April 29, 2017 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Over the past five months, my father and I have taken on the monumental task of getting to know each other (after he spent 30 years in prison). "You're my daughter. Everything you do is interesting to me. I know you're upset, but if you'll let me, I'd like to try and help. Can we just keep talking?" I smiled at the longing in his voice. This was what he never got to do, be there for me in hard times. I could give him this. "Sure, Dad," I said. "I'd love to keep talking." And so we did."
posted by ChuraChura (16 comments total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
Beautiful story. Have tissues ready.
posted by mogget at 1:21 PM on April 29, 2017

I love @smashfizzle. I saw her tweet this week about how he is making ice cream floats almost every night, so I'm glad to see this here to fill in the story.
posted by rhizome at 1:23 PM on April 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

Yeah, Ashley Ford is quickly becoming one of my favorite people on the internet. Reading her stuff about her dad has made me really conscious of how rarely we hear directly in the media from people who are affected by mass incarceration.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:40 PM on April 29, 2017 [11 favorites]

Touching, thanks.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:59 PM on April 29, 2017

Really moving. Thank you.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:07 PM on April 29, 2017

This made me feel so happy for both of them. Thanks for the post, ChuraChura! I'll look for more of her writing, thanks to you, ArbitraryAndCapricious.
posted by Silverstone at 2:26 PM on April 29, 2017

Oh that was so so beautiful. I won't spoil the moment for any of you who haven't read it yet, but when I got to the part when her aunt began to cry, so did I.

Thank you.
posted by ZakDaddy at 3:29 PM on April 29, 2017

Beautiful story. Thank you for posting.
posted by seawallrunner at 4:15 PM on April 29, 2017

A wonderful story, especially with my father in town visiting and my daughter sleeping in the next room, but I must say, given that my father is in town, that this:

Yes, one day, he’ll think to text before he thinks to call because that’s what everybody does.

Don't count on this.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:43 PM on April 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

This was such a moving story. Thank you for sharing
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 6:35 PM on April 29, 2017

My father in law is in prison. He did it, he will tell you he is exactly where he should be, and he's never getting out. He was in before I met him, before my wife and I got together (though we've known each other since high school, we weren't that close until a few years ago), though he didn't go in until 60ish, so he'd had quite the life out here.

I wonder what kind of man he was and is when I'm not seeing him in two hour chunks over a rickety table in too many layers of brown and white prison clothes, because he's always cold. We see him a couple times a month, less lately; our weekends keep ending up on holidays because of the rotation we have with his wife, and he called this morning to say he's sick as hell and we shouldn't come down tomorrow. Some weeks he calls my wife a couple times a week; on the other hand, we had a stretch of about a month this spring where we were this close to calling the case manager to make sure something hadn't happened to him, even though logically we know they'd have contacted us if it had. We're lucky he's at a camp about an hour from here and it's easy for us to make the trip. We're lucky we get to see him as much as we do.

We tell stories and make him laugh. On the way down, we'll agree on a few conversational points to keep things moving if we need to, though since he has more time to watch the news and such than we do, that's not usually a problem. When all else fails, we ask how his drunkass brother is doing and it's off to the races. Obviously he's not always (maybe never) a good man, and my wife did not have a great childhood and they're much better now as adults than they were as kids, but I still wish I could have known that man, not this one.

Thanks for posting this.
posted by joycehealy at 6:43 PM on April 29, 2017 [15 favorites]

I found another article the author wrote about why her father is in jail and... whoa, that gives this a VERY different vibe. I get why she left it out, it's really hard to combine the horrible thing he did with her creating a relationship with him, but I still feel a bit... mislead? Her reasons for not having much contact with him are directly related to the nature of his crime, so deciding to have contact now means something changed. Honestly I'd be more interested in that story, I don't think I'd be speaking to my father in her shoes. How do you get past that? Or did she not get past it, and not acknowledging it is part of that?
posted by Dynex at 12:05 PM on April 30, 2017

I don't think that's a very fair response to this essay. I can only imagine how complicated it is when your dad gets out of prison, and juggling those feelings privately is a perfectly valid choice. Choosing to publicly share some parts of your experiences doesn't mean everyone has a right to all parts of your experience, and Ashley Ford has been incredibly giving of her, and her father's, life story to humanize the experience of mass incarceration and what it's like to be the child of someone getting out of prison. Choosing an angle from which to tell that story doesn't demand grappling with all the angles in one essay.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:10 PM on April 30, 2017

If you look up some of her other stuff (including Twitter) you'll find she's really pretty willing to talk about why her father went to prison. And I think some hints are provided as to how she integrates that.
posted by atoxyl at 9:44 PM on April 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

She has publicly shared the other parts, hence finding another article by her that talked about why he was in jail. I thought this essay was very glossed over (why did they have such little contact?) until I read her other essays, now it makes more sense. It's interesting that her father can't be humanized if his entire story is told.
posted by Dynex at 2:00 PM on May 1, 2017

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