I have been wrestling with the idea that maybe this subject is too personal. I’ve been trying to find some sort of positive way to blog about my brother Jason and how do I convey some lesson for my audience. I was going to title the blog something corny like, “The Jail Experience” or something that doesn’t completely align with me. Then I realized that my brother and I are in a happier place and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed. People put jail and their loved ones in the back of their heads like jail doesn’t exist or your loved one “went away”. The simple truth is, it hurts the inmate and it hurts the people they love. So I rested on the plain and simple fact, my brother just got out of jail. I hope that my brother doesn’t take offense, this is just a way to say I love him and I’m glad he’s out.
When we were younger and living together, it was our best years. The Christmas’ when I would run halfway down the stairs and remember he was still sleep in our room and I would run back up stairs and wake him up so we could run down the stairs together. We had different fathers but that was never an issue. Our mom and my father were not married, my father was killed when I was about 2 years old. Later, I went to live with my grandfather, Pop Pop and Jay stayed with his dad and our mom in Philly. Those were the awesome years for my mom, her new husband and my brother Jay. I know the American dream existed for my mom during this time period. I’m pretty sure my brother is the favorite, she won’t admit it. I don’t resent what they had, I just remember my mom in those years, and she was happy. It was the early 80’s and things were good for her.
Jay was the youngest and I would protect him at all costs. I remember the time when I had to go attempt to kick some butt for him at his school. These two kids were bullying him. So I came to school one day and I told him to point them out to me. He nervously pointed them out and I said, “Come on!” I walked up on the two with my fists balled and said, “My brother said y’all keep messing with him.” They looked at me and said, “Who’s your brother!?” I turned to my side pointing at what I expected to be my brother but what turned out to be an empty spot on the sidewalk, realizing my brother was 30 feet behind me, behind a car, peeking. Hilarious…needless to say, he didn’t have any more problems at school. When I left Jersey and came back to Philly things were different. My mom was no longer with Jay’s dad and we could feel the sting of a single parent household. We were still together me and Jay but the difference in our upbringing was taking shape. It wasn’t good or bad, just different. We were slowly stepping into our own levels of maturity. He grew up with the influences of Tupac and those dark years after ‘Pac got out of jail. I could see my brothers influences and where I may have had the wrong perception of him or just simply misunderstood his struggle. My grandmother, my mom, our new infant sister, and Jay visiting on the weekends, all in a one bedroom apartment was motivation to become a man with my own, quickly. I was off to Morgan State University to get away from the hood and my family’s struggle with the damages of crack.
When I was at college getting my undergraduate degree, his life, through bad decision after bad decision, was unraveling. I was helpless to do anything. I couldn’t drop out and move back to Philly nor could he come down to live with me, not yet. I found out later that he felt that I left him in Philly. For a long time I was hurting with that knowledge because I wanted my brother to be with us, his family. I was the oldest trying to set the best example and he wasn’t following my example.
He ended up in jail. I never forgot the day I received the collect phone call from the department of correction on my cell phone. I was in line at a water park on Eisenhower Ave, in Alexandria VA. I didn’t know how to accept the phone call, and even if I did, what was I going to do? I was with my friend Leslie and her son, my Godson. I told them to go in and I went and sat down on the curb. That was one of the lowest points in my life. I remember looking at the phone still trying to get the call back, holding onto the cell trying to block out the image of my brother in jail. I felt like the cell phone was my heart and I couldn’t put it back in my body and it was dying.
Anyway, after all the letters and me sending money and keeping him optimistic, I saw him yesterday. I hugged him so hard…we talked laughed and made plans for the future. He’s mature now…I mean, he gets it. All those arguments during the Tupac years and him being in the streets are over. I’m so proud of him. Now I have the means to help him and get the family back together. I mean we’re together, but he’s gotta come up to speed on some plans we have for the family. He’s a grown man, responsible and focused. When I dropped him off at the halfway house, I was sizing him up to the other brothers returning to the facility and I could see a difference. It wasn’t good or bad, just different, and I liked what I saw this time. Jail can rehabilitate but I would hope that any young man avoids jail, prison, reform school or any corrective institution. It’s not cool. Rappers glorify prisons, jails, correctional facilities as some sort of ignorant rite of passage but it’s not! All you males curious about jail, it’s not college, it’s not the military and there’s no freedom. My brother didn’t come out of jail as a famous rapper with a record deal. Rick Ross or Little Wayne weren’t there waiting in a limo poppin’ bottles splashing expensive champagne on bikini clad women ready to pick him up. He came out of that place alone, starting over with some significant disadvantages, no resume, no girlfriend and no job. Luckily, he has a family that loves him and will help him get on his feet and get his life started. He’s on probation for 5 years but by then we’ll have this business started. I have the whole word to show him and I can’t wait. Take from the blog, the lesson of mistakes but more importantly, the lesson of family and starting over. Your family loves you in the best way they can, and when everyone else fails you, you always have family. Appreciate them now and don’t make the same mistake.
I love you Jay…don’t worry, I got you and you ain’t heavy. Shorne
- Incarceration is not the time for non communication! (rehabafelon.com)
- Forgive So You Can Move Forward (angiegingrich.wordpress.com)