Come to find out, that’s not all there is to it. Trauma is not something that you can escape by acknowledging it. Still, Lilly had taken the first step and that was to seek help for her situation.
While Lilly unburdened her heart with Dr. Walker, I caught up on the paperwork. Given the lateness of the day, Lilly would not return to work until tomorrow morning. I left work at 1730 and drove to Parchman Prison to visit my dad.
He sat in front of the large window that overlooked the yard. An easel with small jars of paint and different size brushes were perched on the table. I couldn’t quite make out what was on the canvas. Smears of blood red and black were in a semi-circle.
“You took up painting,” I asked.
“Yeah. I ain’t much for just sitting here dying. The guards thought I might find the distraction appealing.”
“What is this on the canvas?”
I stared at it; I didn’t see a heart. Still, I didn’t want to point out the obvious. Mad Michael grunted.
“What did the doc say? How long do you have before you…”
“Die a miserable old man?”
“He gave me six months. I feel that he was generous. I’ll be gone in a few days.”
“I don’t want to be here any longer, Konan. All I do is get up, eat breakfast and look out this window. My choices landed me here, but I’m sentenced to three lifetimes son. Dying is the only way out of here.”
“So, you’re dying to shave time off your sentence?”
Mad Michael laughed out loud. I grinned. He was loud, obnoxious, and more than a bit rowdy. He leaned back in his chair and smiled.
“Now why didn’t I think of that? If I had known I could have faked this disease, I wouldn’t have spent all that time acquiring it. No, son. My sins and bad habits have caught up with me. It’s time to pay the penance for my vile nature.”
We grew silent and stared out the window together. The moon was large, its fullness left nothing to the imagination. The beams of moonlight shimmered upon the fields of grain and cotton.
It was magical.
Our conversation from that point on was sparse. We spoke of life, of regrets, and of the World Series. Almost like we had a close father-son relationship. The years of bitterness seemed small in the visitors room at Mississippi’s version of a ‘maximum security’ prison. I stood to leave.
Mad Michael looked at me tearfully. He nodded.
“Time to go, huh?”
“Yeah, these murderers aren’t going to catch themselves.” I cringed, but my father just grinned.
“I’ll see you next week.”
He nodded and I walked to the door. I opened the door when my father spoke.
I turned and raised my eyebrows in response. He gave me a small nod and said:
“I’m proud of you, son. When I pray, and I don’t pray nearly enough, I tell the Lord how thankful I am that you didn’t follow in my footsteps. I’m glad you bring justice to those who leave victims in their wake. If I don’t see you again, I’ve enjoyed these past few months and your visits.”
Sometimes words are hard to find to describe what you felt at specific times in your life. Wedding days for example are hard to describe because of the wealth of various emotions that are felt at one time. I felt a flush of emotion sweep over me. Hot tears stung my eyes, I blinked them away quickly.
“Thanks, dad. I appreciate it.”
Then, I walked away. It was the last time I would see my father. He died two days after my visit.