Oregon Department of Corrections’ institutions across the state. Developed by Chaplain Trime Persinger at Snake River Correctional Institution (SRCI), the course teaches AICs how to build positive relationships and manage conflict situations through everyday conversations. This post is part of a series which aims to share the stories of AICs who have been impacted by the program.
Below, AIC Alberto Rodriguez-Ramirez uses the tools he learned in the program to demonstrate his patience and understanding. AIC Rodriguez-Ramirez shared his experience with Trime Persinger, who wrote it down as follows:
When I fell, my daughters were seven and eight. They didn’t speak to me for eight years. I sent letters and cards but didn’t receive anything back from them.
Then I started calling them from time to time. I spoke with their mother Suzi and Lorren, my older daughter. After a while, I got a letter from Lorren saying that I needed to talk to my younger daughter, Stephanie, because she was having difficulties.
So the next time I called, I asked to speak with Stephanie (who was by then fifteen years old). It was just, “Hi. Bye” from her.
In the call after that, we exchanged pleasantries. Then she said, “Dad, I am very mad at you.”
Me: “Why are you mad?”
Stephanie: “Because you have abandoned us. You abandoned us when we really needed you most.”
Me: “I am so sorry, my daughter. It was not my intention to hurt you and your sister in this way. I didn’t want to hurt you. I didn’t want to hurt your sister. I love you both so much.”
Stephanie: “I don’t want to speak to you anymore. I’m very angry with you. I’m mad at you because you didn’t think about us.”
She hung up on me. I went back to my cell and stayed there for a long time. I was grateful that we were having this type of communication, but it hurt my heart to hear her say that. All I could think about was her telling me that it was all my fault and that I didn’t care about them.
I let a few days go by and called her back. I said, “Hi my darling, how are you doing today? How are you feeling health-wise?” I had a feeling that she was very far away from me and didn’t want to talk to me. She said, “I’m OK.”
I said, “You know that I love you a lot.” There was silence on the other end of the phone. After a while I said, “Even though you don’t want to talk to me or don’t love me, I still love you very, very much. Since the day you were born until this moment, I will keep on loving you until the very last day of my life. I’ll never stop loving you even if you never love me back.”
I waited for a response but there was silence on the line. After a couple of minutes, I hung up.
I let two weeks pass. Then I called again. I said, “Hi Honey, how are you?”
Stephanie, “Hi. I’m doing good.”
Me: “Are you still mad at me?”
Stephanie: “It’s true that you left me when I most needed you. For that, I’m very mad at you. Do you know that I miss you a lot? I miss your hugs. I miss just being around you. You never thought about me.”
Me: “My darling daughter, please don’t say that. I, too, have suffered a lot for the both of you. Even if you don’t believe me, my suffering has been great. I have suffered because day after day you have never been out of my mind for even one of those days.”
Stephanie: “When are you going to get out then?”
I had to answer that I would not get out for another four years. She said, “Call me when you can.” Then she started speaking a lot about her daily life. After that, the conversation was over. I reminded her again how much I love her. I told her to be a good girl and said how much I looked forward to speaking with her again.
I grew up without a father and never in a million years did I imagine that I would abandon my own children, leaving them without a father. I realized that she was just as resentful as I had been about my own father not being there.