This week has been a literal juggling act of clients from Arkansas to Texas. Throughout the Prison Wedding Planning Process, I talk, email and text with clients right up to wedding hour. While juggling existing clients, I’m also booking new clients as well as answering questions, calling Units and scheduling with Chaplains to confirm dates.
I don’t work a 9-5 “job.” It’s not unusual for me to take calls right up to 10:30 and bedtime at WorthamWorld. In fact, it’s a regular occurrence. My husband shuts off his phone at 5:30PM and “clocks out.” My phone starts ringing at 6AM and doesn’t stop until I prepare for bed. He’s quiet and reserved and he’s married to someone who isn’t. We discussed “eccentric” a few days ago. The word had come up during counseling with my grandniece, Makenna. Her counselor, Kevin, had used my twin sister, Cindy and I as “examples” of outgoing, bold, self assured and eccentric. Cindy and I were both a little surprised at Kevin’s observation of us but, from my leopard leggings to Cindy’s bedazzled cap and Ray Ban sunglasses worn into the counseling session, perhaps we are aren’t exactly “low key.” Let’s be honest here, Cindy and I are probably never low key. We are blunt, honest, comfortable in our own skin and self assured. My twin and I have big personalities. We aren’t shy. We also learned years ago to celebrate being different rather than trying to fit in.
Makenna is 14 and like my husband, reserved. Reflective. Unlike my husband, Makenna is also easily influenced. My husband is old and wise and quit trying to fit in at a young age himself. His mother was a raging alcoholic and his father basically lived at Rivercrest Country Club. My husband was raised by his maid and looked after her until her death 18 years ago. Yes, it was long after Helen had stopped working for Matthews parents. Matthew considered Helen to be the mother he never had and took care of her later in life because she had cared for him.
Makenna’s first crush broke her heart. Makenna is struggling with self esteem and her own identity. Makenna like most teens “wants to fit in” but, Makenna is highly academic. Because of this, she also struggles with social anxiety. Her twin sister, Maryssa is not academic at all and excels at social interaction.
Before anyone asks, I was academically accelerated as well while Cindy was socially active as teens. I preferred books while Cindy preferred people. Maryssa and Makenna are both Compensating Personality or Mirror Image twins as are Cindy and I. Two halves make a whole.
Kevin was using Cindy and I as the polar opposite of Makenna to enhance by example in order to better elaborate on why Cindy and I might be viewed as intimidating to a few people. The word “intimidating” bothered Cindy and I both. We are passionate and loving. We are selfless and giving. Intimidating? To whom? This counseling session wasn’t going too well in my opinion. Cindy’s too. She doesn’t have to talk to me. A look here. A nod here. We communicate without words. We listened. We waited for the connection of our personalities and Makenna’s to “materialize.”
Kevin began describing his own childhood. We found his background fascinating and would never have guessed at it based on meeting him. His mother had 5 children. His mother raised them alone. Kevin didn’t have a village at home to care for him. His mother was the village.
Kevin also didn’t have an “eccentric great aunt” AKA me or a grandmother who was determined to give her granddaughters the love and support they needed with a twin sister by her side as a partner.
Kevin had also struggled in school. Kevin could relate to Makenna. I’m glad we listened. Although eccentric, intimidating and bold aren’t exactly words that Cindy or I would have considered when describing ourselves. Wild clothing? Outgoing personalities. Upfront. Bold. Blatantly honest. Passionate. A few of these descriptions weren’t as impactful as “intimidating” or “eccentric” although meeting Cindy and I in person was probably and eye opener for Kevin to begin with. We both talk at the same time which made it difficult for Kevin to adjust to a meeting with two sets of twins.
Makenna was bullied by her first crush. Lured in, she was told she was beautiful and effectively flattered by this new school friendship. Makenna told us very little about her new friend. She was on her phone for two weeks with Michael. We would find that two days were spent earning her trust. Twelve days were spent destroying her self esteem. Makenna never told either Cindy or I or even her twin or our husbands. She suffered silently through the barrages of text messages. She isolated herself in her room while we assumed she was preparing for her school curriculum.
It will take time for my grandniece to recover and harden her heart. But, Kevin can relate. Kevin also knows that those text messages were criminal in nature.
Kevin might find Cindy and I loud or even eccentric but, Kevin knows a lot about us. We don’t shy from questions. We are open and honest. It’s easy for anyone to find information and photos about Cindy and I or even our entire family. All of my social media is public as is Cindys. We are googled frequently. Kevin knows that we perform Prison Weddings and Purple Unions.
Kevin also knows that “society as a whole might not agree with our client bases.” A few people may even strongly disagree. Kevin probably knows or assumes that neither I or Cindy care about the opinions of others. We don’t. Unless you are bound to us by blood or business, your opinion doesn’t have an impact on our lives OR our clients. Kevin knows that our diverse client bases could easily make Cindy and I targets for others “who don’t believe inmates OR LBGT couples should be allowed to marry.” Kevin is right. We have trolls. We have haters. We don’t care. A few of our own family members disagree with prison marriage. A few others disagree with LBGT marriage. Opinions are like noses. Everyone has one. A few people want to blow their nose on you and wipe it on your sleeve. No thanks.
Only someone with a very strong personality can set aside opinions of others and I have a very strong personality. Cindy does too. Kevin went into counseling because as a child he had no one to talk to. He wanted to become the role model he didn’t have in his life and he did.
Wendy and Cindy went into the Events business to give others the weddings we had never had. Ironic isn’t it? Kevin told Makenna about sacrifice. How his mother put her own needs aside for her children. How during the summer when no free lunches were available Kevin took a job at the ball park to bring free hot dogs home to feed his siblings. How hard his mother worked to buy a pair of shoes for one of her children.
Kevin recognized that love is sacrifice at a very young age. Kevin also realized how angry Cindy and I were that an outsider could convince Makenna that she was ugly and unloved. We are furious about this. “Your grandmother and her twin are unafraid of anything. Look at your great aunts tangerine top and leopard leggings. Most people would be intimidated to choose that outfit. She isn’t. She’s confident. She walks into Prisons unafraid. She also created a VERY diverse businesses to help others. People no one wanted to help. She’s transparent. Honest. Opinionated. Strong. She cares about helping others. She’s driven. Her twin is too but, I can assure you that years ago neither of them started out the way they are now. People learn to be independent. At a certain point, you stop caring about what others think and when you do, it’s the most liberating moment you will ever experience. You are finally free of trying to fit in and be like everyone else.” Hmm, Kevin is smart AND observant.
Kevin could see through the layers of an onion. Cindy and I weren’t always bold or confident. We both were married to violent husbands. We both thought violence was normal. We both escaped. We both were determined to never be controlled, fearful or cowardly again. We don’t look back at where we’ve been. We look forward at where we are going.
It’s time to teach Makenna how to recognize that there are people who aren’t transparent. Who aren’t loving, honest, straightforward. Kevin will.
Our families will help reinforce counseling with Kevin as well as teaching Makenna her own self worth. While Wendy and Cindy might have started this family counseling surprised at Kevin’s candor, we left it confident that Kevin is the right choice for Makenna.
My Jordan Unit client called me leaving my office for Palo Pinto County Jail. While starting my SUV, a statement set off my alarm bells from Samantha. “He’s upset that he’s being transferred and this is taking too long.” He’s upset? It’s a process. He’s angry at her because he’s being transferred? Isn’t he the reason that he’s in prison? I decided to ask MORE QUESTIONS.
Driving down highway 30, the answers would become more and more dangerous. Samantha told me that she was to send $200 each month to the inmate. She wasn’t allowed to wear makeup or take her three children to the beach because the inmate didn’t want her looking attractive or wearing a bathing suit.
A call from Ellis Unit was sent to voice mail by me as the hair on my arms stood up. Twenty years ago, I WAS SAMANTHA.
A call from Coffield went to voice mail as I continued to decline incoming calls to get more information. Driving down the highway listening, I started to cry hearing the answers. Samantha was being victimized by the inmate. An inmate who was incarcerated and yet controlling her from behind bars. My fury over this situation threatened to escape my mouth as I focused on staying calm while giving her sage advice. She had three children under 12 years old. She worked two jobs to support herself and she had “saddled up” with a controlling and manipulative inmate who accused her of doing things she wasn’t when she didn’t answer the phone quickly enough or when she sent photos that were so closely examined by the inmate that she was accused of having too much fun.
Samantha had stopped sending photos after being told to send photos in risqué poses. Samantha made a wise choice. After 44 minutes of my conversation with Samantha, I pulled over and told her what any mother would. I advised her that the delay was a Godsend. It was an opportunity for Samantha to assert herself and set boundaries. I told her that she needed to put her own needs first. She couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Samantha left her first marriage with three children. Her ex had called her 30 times a day and finally managed to get her fired from her job. Her ex was (at the time) not working and living in HER apartment. Samantha left the marriage and lost everything to move into a homeless shelter with three children. Samantha’s credit was destroyed due to being forced to abandon her apartment.
Samantha was about to jump into an equally one sided marriage. I advised Samantha not to. “If he can control your money and your life from prison, he will be far more controlling when he’s released.” Hopefully, Samantha heeds my advice.
For years now, I’ve advised clients of my concerns. These clients are my children. I’m the mother I never had. Cindy is too. We listen. We ask questions. We are old and we are wise. We’ve also been through things that give us insight. If I’m telling you not to marry, I have very valid reasons for doing so.
Cindy was on her way to San Antonio for a week long vacation with her husband and the twins. I called her from Parker County to check in. Makenna was doing well and enjoying the trip with her twin sister.
Walking into the jail, I continued to worry about Samantha. Next week I have stacked weddings at Coffield. One of my brides is struggling through chemotherapeutic treatment. Her cancer color is teal. I’ve made a variety of bouquets in her colors to surprise her. I’m also looking forward to meeting her as well as my other brides in Tennessee Colony.
I’m only inside Palo Pinto 38 minutes when arriving back at my SUV. I have a call from my Ferguson Unit client regarding July 10th. I’ve marked the date off for my son’s birthday and call Ferguson to schedule at 1:30PM. We will celebrate Robbies birthday on an off day (as usual) due to scheduling.
I also have a text from my McConnell Unit bride regarding scheduling her best friends wedding on the same day as hers. I call McConnell to stack them together 25 minutes apart. They are both thrilled to bring sharing a wedding date and bridal shoot together.
I have my Arkansas client asking about the waiting period and counseling requirements. I go over the details and timelines involved for her.
I have my Hutchins State Jail Client contacting me about the I60 timeline. I have my Collin County Client asking about my schedule this weekend.
I also have an August Client inquiring about a DJ and the venue policy regarding outside caterers.
There is a text from my niece, Leigh Ann about her daughter, Madyson getting into hand sanitizer and rubbing it into her eyes. Ugh oh. They are headed to Parker County Urgent Care.
I return calls while driving to meet Leigh Ann. Maddy was fine but needed eye drops to help clear the sanitizer from them.
My job as a multitasker never ends. What people don’t know about me surprises them. After I leave Urgent Care, I take Leigh Ann, Maddy and my other niece, Stephaney to lunch. All three are home alone at Cindy’s while she and her grand twins and husband are out of town. Leigh Ann complains “it isn’t the same with mom and the twins gone. It’s so quiet. Ugh.”
Leaving lunch, I head over to Parker County Vet to schedule my Beagle, Foxy Wortham for dental surgery next week checking my erratic scheduling before commuting to Thursday next week.
Between Prisons, between Venues and between client meetings. I return to my SUV to find a text from my McConnell Unit brides best friend. She’s concerned about the glass due to a G4 status. Everyone hates the glass. For a few of my clients, the glass will always separate them. For others, the glass isn’t as easily accepted or tolerated but, the glass and requirement of separation are something neither my clients or I can control.
My Crain Unit client calls me regarding the I60 and marriage license. I have 7 Crain Unit Grooms waiting on dates and timelines. It’s not always possible to “stack clients” at the same Unit on the same day. The reason for this is the paperwork. The paperwork can take 3-6 weeks or longer. The waiting is the hardest part for clients. For Samantha, the waiting is an opportunity to reflect. To step back. To re evaluate. I hope she uses this time to set boundaries.
Two of my Arkansas Prison Clients need my credentials. I’m adding them in this blog. My credentials were filed in Pulaski County, Arkansas on February 21, 2014 and recorded with acknowledgments and certificates in the Ministers Record Book U Page 0258.
If you need me to send you a copy of my Arkansas credentials for a Unit, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) although most state facilities in Arkansas are familiar with my credentials, privately owned or Federal Units may not be and might require a copy for their records. This is a process. Stay calm. I’m seasoned and experienced in the process. I know you are confused to the process but I can assure you that I’m not. We are on track.
My Tarrant County Client calls to ask about a certified copy. The inmate is being transferred to French Roberts Unit. I go over the process and take a call for a new client AT French Roberts Unit. We go over the process and I suggest Jacobs Dream at Abilene Christian University for her bridal photos.
My Ferguson Unit bride sends a text regarding filing the marriage license while I’m cooking dinner. She’s concerned about mailing the license or filing it in person. I go over my schedule because her wedding is at 1:30PM and the Dallas County Courthouse is over 2 hours from the Unit. I hate rushing. I overestimate myself everywhere I go. I’m always early.
Rather than rushing from Ferguson to Dallas, I suggest meeting her to file the license with her early on July 11th before I head back to Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony or on July 12th after I return from Sanders Estes in Venus.
I regularly file licenses but, if you don’t want the clerk to mail your license, you can file it in person. The clerk will record the license and hand it back to you. You will need to send the Unit a copy of the certified license. Please include the inmates name and number and mark your envelope ATTN: Inmate Records.
I look forward to meeting you all very soon at your Prison Wedding. Please remember that on weekends and evenings, my staff and I are working with traditional clients and if we don’t answer our phones, leave a message. We will return calls, texts and emails between bookings. Thanks.
Today I’m entertaining my youngest grandniece, Maddy between appointments and looking forward to doing so. Maddy IS A HANDFUL. Cindy, Steve and the twins are having a great trip and I’m glad to hear it. Steve hasn’t had a vacation since our Twins Trip to Ohio. Two sets of twins on a road trip with Steve made for a few interesting pit stops. “Don’t get a drink and you won’t have to stop so often to use the bathroom. We are on a timeline here. Hey, do you really need another coffee?”
My brother in law is a truck driver. He has been driving trucks for 50 years. There aren’t any relaxing road trips with Steve. He doesn’t stop to smell the roses. Steve wants to get from A to B in the quickest way.
Thankfully, on their latest trip, Steve isn’t in his usual hurry. Steve is visiting his hometown friends and taking his time. With Cindy and the twins wanting to shop rather than use the bathroom at truck stops, Steve is learning that traveling with twins takes a certain degree of patience. I should know, I’m almost always the driver when Wendy and Cindy hit the highway…