The Raw Vegan: Part XXXIV, Looking Back

One of the hazards of publishing chapter after chapter instead of submitting a completed manuscript is there are inevitably times when it strikes the author that lots was left out. The fact is, if every single memory were recorded, it would multiply the words exponentially. I wouldn’t be able to write it all and no one would want to read it all. Let’s let it go at this: I’ll write what comes to mind at the moment. If something is remembered later that has bearing on the story, I’ll include it then. If not, be assured there is lots more that happened than you’ll ever know.

Now, this is one of those times. Where we lived was quite remote. Since DD and I were going to be there alone a lot, DH decided we needed a watchdog. He bought a paper and started perusing the pets for sale section. One breeder sounded promising. We called and made an appointment to see the puppies. They were purebred Rottweilers from an impressive blood line. Barely old enough to leave their mother, they’d had their shots and been wormed. There were some stocky males with big feet indicating they’d be built like brick outhouses when they matured. The one that caught our attention was a dainty female—the runt of the litter. She had a quality about her the others didn’t. I was hooked and so were DH and DD. We bought her and took her home.

We debated over what to name her. She had to have a proper name for such a proper dog. We settled on Katrina von Klaus and she was Kat for short. Kat the dog. She was loving and gentle, nothing like the scare stories you hear about the breed. If anything, she might have licked a person to death and she barked if anyone invaded her territory.

Maybe four days after we bought Kat, the woman who had ended up with Ukluk called to see if we could take him back. Her young son had been trying to ride him like a horse. Evidently, Ukluk was either sitting down or lying down. Anyway, the little boy stepped on a very sensitive part of Ukluk’s anatomy and there was an immediate reaction. Stitches were required to close the places on the little boy’s face. We were sorry but there was no way we could take him back. Later on, she got in touch with us again. Her husband had to ship out (he was in the military) and she was glad they’d kept Ukluk.

My drug use was on again off again and this is one time it was on again. It had escalated to the point that I was losing weight. I had gotten down to 107 lubs. I was feeling a definite tugging to give it up but I didn’t want to. I remember once when I was soaking in the bathtub. There was a yearning to let go but the Dark Side was present, too. I did something I thought I’d never do. I asked God to leave me alone. He granted my wish and let me go my own way but He was always there watching over me even though I didn’t want Him to.

We go back to the airport the day after Thanksgiving, 1983. After DH had roared off into the Wild Blue Yonder, we all piled into my father-in-law’s white ’67 Chevy Impala and went back to the mountain. DS1, DD and I packed up and went back to our house, the cats and Kat. On the following Sunday, I took DS1 back to college. The Thanksgiving holiday was over.

It wasn’t unusual for me not to know where DH was headed. He would try to give me an idea of how long he’d be gone but he never really knew, himself. The people he was flying for didn’t have a set schedule. They might pop up and decide to have him fly them to Las Vegas and the trip would stretch into a week or more. He’d check in regularly—he had learned his lesson about that. When he’d call, it would be “collect from Ralph”. He was always either Ralph or George on the phone. It was a standing joke.

When he was away, DD and I would go shopping. It didn’t matter that there were times we didn’t buy anything. It was getting away from the house and doing something. While we were out, we’d eat at one of our favorite restaurants. One was Asian and the dish we almost always ordered was the tofu spinach soup. There was another place that served Middle Eastern food. I especially liked their falafel and they had coconut baklava that was to die for. DD liked their french fries. Not exactly Middle Eastern but it hit the spot for a five year old.

DH would usually call in the evening when he knew we’d be home. This time, it was unusual because he was using his one call that was allowed someone under arrest. My world started spinning out of control. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Everything was falling apart.

I’ve blocked out a lot of what happened next. I don’t remember doing anything but calling our Nebraska grandmother. We had little in the bank and there were bills to pay. With DH in jail, there would definitely not be any money coming in. She was to the rescue again.

It hit the news and the papers and I learned not to believe everything I see on television, hear on the radio or read in the newspapers. According to what was put out there, the plane (with its useful load of 1500 lubs) was hauling several thousand lubs of marijuana. The truth was the plane contained no drugs at all except for a bottle of aspirin. It turned out to be a “sting” with agents planted on the plane and the only marijuana was their own tractor trailer full of it. They were trying to sell it to the people DH was flying around (remember I didn’t want him to work for them?) and had implicated him in the conspiracy to traffic in an illegal substance even though he was just the pilot.

My mother called me and said my ex-husband had contacted her wanting to know if DD and I were okay. It wasn’t long before he called me, himself. I thanked him for being concerned (though I figured he was just being nosy) and hung up.

DH’s nephews came in for moral support and we made plans to go to Louisiana to see what could be done to get him out of jail. He had been arrested in a small town and held in their jail overnight and then was moved to Orleans Parish Prison in New Orleans. Providentially, my BIL was living on the West Bank and we could stay with them. It wasn’t ideal but there was nothing about the situation that could be called ideal, anyway.

I had my own problems to deal with. I’d gone out in the car and on the way back, it started missing. I babied it along until I got home and was about to call a wrecker to tow it into the shop when one of DH’s old classmates called. I was down and crying. He told me not to do anything until he’d looked at it. After what seemed like days, he got there and found that a rag had been stuffed into the air intake. How that happened, I’ll never know. He pulled it out and it ran like a top.

The animals had to be looked after while we were gone. One of the neighbors agreed to feed them.

There was a bail hearing and DH’s bond was set at $23,000,000. Yes, it was twenty-three million dollars. No way could I raise that kind of money and we didn’t own any property. I had my car but it wasn’t worth even a fraction of that. It was a ridiculous amount.

I’d ordered God out of my life but He was there when I turned to Him. I remember putting DD to bed, then sitting with my feet warming over the floor furnace. I was in my rocking chair and I was reading my Bible, the New International Version DH had given me one Christmas. The verse I latched onto was Isaiah 40:31:

“but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”

I spent a lot of time reading my Bible and praying. I’ve since been very careful about ordering God around.

One thing I was no longer interested in was drugs. I needed a clear mind.

When we got to New Orleans, one of the first orders of business was to go to the prison to see DH. I’d never been inside such a facility. It was a new experience in a long line of new experiences. First, I had to go on the right day and at the time designated as visiting hours. Next, I signed in, recorded my relationship and put DH’s name down as the prisoner I was visiting. I learned not to take my purse. It was confiscated and put in a room with all the other unfortunate purses. I had expected to be searched but wasn’t. There would be no contact during the visit. There was a huge room where all the visitors waited to be called. Chairs were lined up around the perimeter and down the middle. I was alone but there were others who had come in groups. Visitors would be allowed into the room where there were stalls with glass separating them from the prisoners. DH’s hair had been cut into a prison “do”. He had a hunted look. We talked via phone. I’m sure the glass was dirty but we didn’t care. We lined up our hands in a fingers touching fingers gesture. The glass was at least a half inch thick but we could imagine. The 15 minutes alloted flew by and I was ushered out again.

One night, I was in the waiting area and a woman started talking. Rarely was anything said so it was unusual. She wasn’t addressing anyone in particular. It was like she was thinking out loud. She talked about having a hole inside her that she didn’t know how to fill. It was full of longing and an eloquent discourse and I did so badly want to tell her that Jesus would fill that void but I didn’t say anything. If ever I could go back and change something, that’s what it would be. I prayed for her later and still do and hope that she found her answer. I also resolved that if I ever was in that position again, I wouldn’t be silent.

The days marched by and they were marked by my nephew-in-law driving me across the bridge whenever I was allowed to visit. I learned to wear my seatbelt in New Orleans. No one can be there for very long without having at least a fender bender. Once, when we were crossing the bridge, the nephew glanced in the mirror to see the car to the rear skidding sideways toward us. We were close behind the car in front. Later, he said he had to speed up and slow down at the same time. The only evidence of the incident was a dime-sized dent in the back bumper.

Prison wasn’t the nightmare portrayed in movies and on TV. It was more like a community. I put money in an account so DH could buy things at the commissary. Some of the more seasoned prisoners taught him to make “jail-house hot chocolate”. To do that, one needs a styrofoam cup, a Milky Way candy bar and very hot water. The bar is broken into chunks and the hot water stirred in with whatever is available. It’s best not to blend it completely. The bits left from the chunks are a nice surprise. DH was able to maintain his vegetarian diet by bargaining with the meat he peeled off sandwiches for the boiled eggs served at breakfast. He earned his nickname “Huevo Man”. For those who don’t know, “egg” is “huevo” in Spanish.

While he was waiting for the wheels of justice to turn, he read The Desire of Ages through and every letter he sent me had the Ten Commandments written on it. He made the best of a bad situation.

There were two visits that stand out in my mind. One was when he went for his bond reduction hearing and the guards left us alone to talk. The glass was still there but we had more privacy than we were able to have before. Another was when he was taken back to the scene of the “crime” and we were allowed to hold hands and hug. I don’t think that was according to protocol, but there were some guards who were more compassionate than others.

Ninety days after he was first arrested, he was released on $100,000 bond. It had taken a lot of bargaining but with prayer and promises, his parents took out a lien on their property and the people he was flying for put up a master tape of a major artist for the rest.

The day he got out of prison, he took his shoes off and stood barefoot on the grass. He hadn’t been able to get out anywhere except for the exercise yard and it was all concrete and steel. He squatted down and DD ran to him for the first time in three months. He hugged her and cried.

We weren’t out of the woods yet. Next on the agenda was shopping of a different kind—for a lawyer.

2 Responses to The Raw Vegan: Part XXXIV, Looking Back

  1. Fruitloop June 20, 2008 at 1:05 am #

    Tommie, I feel like I am reading a fictional tale. Wow, you and dh have been through a lot. That must have been a scarey time.


  2. Tommie June 20, 2008 at 7:41 am #

    I’ve always said (as my mother vowed about her life) if I ever wrote about myself, the librarian would put it in the fiction section. It was something I’d never wish on anyone. It’s a blessing we don’t know what’s around the corner. God is the only constant in anyone’s life. We can weather anything as long as we let Him take over.

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