Prison Families & Loved Ones

3 Generations, Together After So Long

3 Generations together, reunited! Last weekend, I took my grandmother to see my mom in prison. It was my mother’s first time seeing her mother and only child at the same time in almost seven years (not including court dates where she was so heavily sedated that she was technically incoherent.)

It was a real treat for the three of us. It was ironically a very happy day. There we were, 3 generations of strong, independent women, chopping it up like the women of love that we are. The ironic part was that the strongest one of all, the one from the middle generation, is a CDCR prisoner.

It’s so amazing watching our family grow since this tragedy which has become a blessing to myself, my mother and my family in so many ways. When I was born, I was born to a mother, two grandmothers, two great-grandmothers, a great-great-grandmother, two grandfathers and a surrogate great-great-grandfather. Of all of these people, all but one is the oldest of their generation. And that one, is an only child. I, too, am the oldest of my generation.

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Growing up, this came with great responsibility. Truth be told, it sill does. The day my mom was arrested, I knew that day had come when I would have to be even more responsible than ever. I would have to carry the load of the strongest person alive in our family, while carrying the load of being the only one strong enough to carry her weight.

I know there are things that I could have said and done to be more supportive to those that needed me. But, all and all, I handled it the best way I knew how… alone. Once my mom’s trials were over and she was finally Level 4 and “on the bus”, it was time to concentrate on me again. I had forgotten who I was. I couldn’t even remember what I was doing before this happened. Who were my friends? What did I like to do? What were my skills? What did I want out of life? Since I was unable to answer any of these questions, I had to take time out to reinvent myself.

Thanks to the encouragement (and pushiness) of my father, I found myself in and through God. I used His word and love to guide me to where He wanted me to be. I chose to forgive God for “making my life so bad.” Which allowed me to forgive myself (for not finding a way to save my mother). From there, the forgiveness just rolled on and on until I wasn’t even mad at my molester anymore.

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So, it was interesting to see the three of us, three strong women, women who represent their generations, evolving, growing, loving, praying, preaching, sharing and caring – 3 generations together.

Only God knows what the meaning of all of this is. And, my faith tells me there is definitely a meaning, a spiritual purpose. Only God knows if the three of us will ever get to share those days together one day on the streets. But, I do know that prisoner or not, my mother will always have pride in her eyes when she sees her mother and/or her child. And, prisoner or not, my Granny and I will always love and support my mother no matter what.

During my mom’s downward spiral, the drugs told her that her family did not love her and that she did not need her family. Now, as a prisoner, she loves and needs us more than ever. And, as a family, we were so fed up with her mess that we had given up on her. Now, we all know the importance of standing by her… of standing by each other.

What’s the true irony of it all? That it took for my mom to go to prison for my entire family to learn to love each other unconditionally again, and function independently and as a family, without the strongest structure in the family. And i really had not realized this until 3 generations united this past weekend!

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The moral to this story: Love them all you can until… always!

Renee Patterson Writes
Renee Patterson writes prison stories, prison news and famous prisoners' bios. She's a prison daughter, prison sister and prison cousin. Renee has published eBooks about prison wives, prison fiances, prison husbands, prison kids, prison parents and other prison loved ones. She currently writes news for the Prison Rideshare Network related to the injustices within the CDCR prison system.