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Dealing with Hepatitis C By Edna Merle




I have Hepatitis C.  My genotype is 3 a.   I was informed of this in prison. After diagnostics, where officials decide where you will spend your time, I was sent to Washington State Prison in Davisboro, Georgia. It is called Washington because that is the name of the county where the prison is located. When I’ve told people about that prison they think I was in Washington, D.C., and thus a career criminal. I am not.

Hep C, as it is referred to, is a disease that affects the liver and causes eventual scarring that can lead to cirrhosis and death if not stopped in time.  In 1996 I was officially diagnosed and told what not to do: drink alcohol, take drugs, smoke cigarettes. But the worst thing the doc said was definitely not take Tylenol and other over-the-counter medicines. I did my research and discovered a few more bad things that can affect Hep C. The main one is sodium benzoate, a preservative in soft drinks and other foods.  And salt. Yes, salt. Salt removes all the water around the cells of the liver causing them to dry up and die. The liver cells should be recovering and preparing for the next day of antagonists. The water keeps the cells moist and happy. Salt could be the worst antagonist of the Hep C virus because it is in almost everything we eat and drink. It’s very subtle and hides itself. Salt is sometimes even undetected by taste. Watch out for salt if you have Hep C.

While I was in prison I had two liver biopsies that determined my liver is as healthy as a baby’s.  I was told “you won’t die from this disease. It’ll be something else that takes you out.” What will that be? I asked the doctor. She didn’t know what would be the cause of my demise. She simply said, “It won’t be hepatitis that kills you.”  What a relief.

I am one of the lucky ones.  In prison I knew a lady who had two life sentences without parole. She had been a prostitute. One of her customers was a guy who hired a taxi. They got in the back seat and the guy leaned over the seat and demanded all the driver’s money. The driver was foreign and new to this country. His English wasn’t too good. The driver didn’t have a chance when the guy in the back pulled out a screwdriver as thin as an ice pick and stabbed him in the back of his brain.

His fingerprints were on the weapon. He had the cash in his pocket. He was caught. Wanda was there so she was a co-conspirator. He got the death penalty. She got life times two, without parole.

Wanda had Hep C. She and I worked together and I liked her. She seemed genuine, a good girl.  I had told her that I had Hep C and she told me that she’d had it since before she’d been locked up. She told me she had the disease for years. But when she started to become real sick with inflammation of her legs and abdomen, nausea and feeling exhausted all the time, she said it was too late for her because by the time the prison doctors admitted to her that she had Hep C, the disease was too far gone. When she asked them why they didn’t tell her  in the beginning as soon as they knew,  their reply was that since she had two life sentences without parole it was in the better interest of society that she not be treated. Nor would a liver transplant ever be permitted. So, she developed cirrhosis. Finally, Wanda couldn’t work anymore. I’d see her from time to time wandering around outside of her building. I’d take her arm and ask where she was going. She would say she was running to the store to get something for dinner or some cigarettes but she would be going in the wrong direction. It was plain that the ammonia, which had built up in her system because her liver wasn’t working any more, had gone to her brain. It can make you say wild things, even hallucinate. She started hemorrhaging and bled internally because her blood vessels were exploding; the blood would be thrown up or come out the other end. Her roommates were terrified of catching the disease and were grossed out by not only blood but other body fluids as well. No one that lived near wanted to touch Wanda to help or even comfort her, except one person. You’ll be surprised to discover that person was Big Bird. She offered to be Wanda’s roommate so she could take care of her. The prison officials agreed that Big Bird could live with Wanda. So she moved into Wanda’s room. And they say she really did do a wonderful job caring for her. Big Bird did everything for Wanda. She helped her bathe, clothed her and cleaned up all her bodily disturbances from the disease, kept their room inspection ready and so on. Amazing, that was the Big Bird I knew when I wanted her for my roommate. But then that was before Big Bird quit taking her own medication.

Wanda let me know who to contact for help with Hep C in prison. I am grateful for her advice because I could have ended up like her.

Wanda knew she was dying and told me about a visit she’d had from an angel.  One night it appeared on the wall of her room. Her roommates were surprised when they found Wanda smiling as if she were in perfect health. She seemed to be talking with someone, although no one was there. Wanda came to church and told this story. We were amazed because prior to this Wanda had been out of her mind with the toxins in her brain. Then, after her vision, she suddenly became lucid just like the old Wanda we all knew and loved. We thought she was back. Two days later she died in the hospital.

As I was leaving prison the doctor told me my next liver biopsy would be due in 2010. After my release in 2009 I went to the liver doctor and told him everything I knew. I fully expected to be prescribed Interferon therapy, an injection taken once a week for six months that, when used in combination with other drugs, is supposed to cure hepatitis.   The doctor took blood, lots of blood. He told me we’d wait for those results before deciding on a plan. I told him I wanted to start Humira for treatment of the scalp psoriasis that I had developed. He said I needed to take that up with my other doctor, but that it shouldn’t interfere with the Hep C.

I was feeling very bad one day and proceeded to get worse. I stayed home from work and went to my regular internist. I thought I had strep throat and the flu.  The strep culture was negative and I didn’t have a fever. I just felt really bad.  A couple of days later I received a phone call from my doctor who said I needed to see the liver doctor ASAP because my liver enzymes were up to 122 – 200 range, which is extremely high for me since for years it had been in the 40’s range. I suspected I needed Interferon Therapy immediately if I didn’t want to get cirrhosis. I made the appointment and was seen in another couple of days. They weren’t surprised or alarmed like I was. They told me I could wait to do the treatment because my last Fibrosure test, a blood test that determines the state of your liver, showed no scaring or inflammation.

They assured me that the scaring can take many years to develop and that I was overreacting. We determined that because the Humira slows down the immune response the liver takes even longer to recover from its daily onslaught, which results in higher enzymes.

The Humira has gotten rid of 80% of the scalp psoriasis. Now my hair looks really healthy. I don’t have to use the smelly dog shampoo that I used to apply every night. Now I only need it maybe once or twice a month. What a huge difference this has been for me, not to mention a great time saver.

Now I just have to deal with the decision on when to start the Hep C treatment with Interferon. Once this is done, I’ll never have to worry about the Hep C again. It will be cleared from my blood once and for all. I’m thinking of waiting until the first of next year. Then I’ll have gotten my yearly salary adjustment and hopefully other things will have conspired so that I can afford to stay home for six months on disability and get through the treatment without going bankrupt.  I’m hoping to win the lottery or at least a small portion of it so I can afford the treatment before I get too old. But I wouldn’t have made it this far without the guidance of a former prostitute who had visions of a guardian angel.

Thank you, Wanda. I hope you and your angel are happy.


Shower Time! By Edna Merle

Taking showers in prison was something I always dreaded. It was probably one of the most stressful parts of each day. Having to shower at Metro State Prison in Atlanta meant showering with two other women. The shower curtains had been removed, allegedly so you couldn’t hang yourself with one of the curtains. Yet the rod remained firmly in place, which provided the perfect place  to hang, say, your nylon net bag, sheet or other article of clothing.  But I always believed the removal of the shower curtains was to promote homosexual activity in a state facility where homosexual activity is most seriously prohibited. Confused? Well, don’t worry, it didn’t make sense to the prisoners either. But then I came up with some very good, weird Al Yankavic type of songs about it which made me feel better about the agony of enduring shower time. If you can be sicker in a sick world, well, that  was helpful as well as entertaining too!

Usually it’s a good idea to plan your shower time with two others you know and trust, which are few and far between in prison. But there are some who, like me, didn’t want to be abused while cleaning my body parts. So we’d plan out the shower time most strategically. When our time came  to shower we’d all three  go in and do our business without a hitch. But on most occasions this was not entirely possible. Someone would take longer to come out of the shower so only two of us could go in. The third had to suffer her shower with whoever would come next.  That’s when problems occurred.

On more than one occasion I was the third. One night two girls I thought I knew very well and who  were friends to me came into the shower. To my surprise they were obsessed with staring at my breasts.  Then they came closer. I was very upset but laughed it off and pretended to be unaffected by them and told them to get away from me.  They didn’t. “You have such perfect tits,” one of them said. “We just want to touch them,” said the other. I got mad and left the shower  quickly.

My room-mate wrote a letter to the Warden about my shower episode and the Warden called for me. She said, “I’m tired of all this foolishness. Do you want to be like these people?” I was shocked at her question. She must have thought I wanted to be with them. I said “No, I don’t want to be like them. They have life sentences and should have already gone home a long time ago”. The warden asked me if I knew these girls’ story and what they really  did.  I said yes, they told me. So the warden asked me what I was told.

Well, one of the girls was a tall slim red-head and a very good graphic design artist who was a very charismatic sort of person. Now that I think about her from this distance, she was very powerful in the prison world. She was a real convict, which is a complement in the prison world.  If she was your friend no one bothered you.  She was very pretty and was known for never taking any crap from anyone. But prison takes its toll no matter how attractive you are. After several years the time just changes your face. Anyway, she took the rap for her mother. Her mother had a mean boyfriend who was beating the mother.  One day the daughter came home and found the boyfriend had been stabbed to death by the mother. The good daughter didn’t want her mother to go to prison for this awful crime because she had suffered enough in her life. So the daughter took the body, cut it up and packaged it like butcher meat and stored it in their garage freezer.  Months went by and everything was fine. Until one day an insurance adjuster checking on a claim discovered body parts at the bottom of the freezer under the frozen vegetables and venison. The suspicious adjuster took a package and had it thawed and tested. Then came the search and arrest warrants. Thus, life in prison for the daughter that said she did it. But it was really her mother who killed the guy.

Now as I write this I must have been crazy to think that the daughter was at all innocent when she, in fact, cut up the body! Dead or not, how could one cut up a body and put it in a freezer where you keep food that you will one day eat? But, at the time, I didn’t flinch. She was OK by me until that shower day. Then she took on a new meaning  when the warden  asked me if I wanted to be like them.  Wow, what a revelation!  I guess the warden had thought she was one of my regular shower partners and I failed to clarify that.

Never would I be like them. Never could I do that, I said to the warden. She said, stop hanging around them, they are not your friends.

The other girl in the shower had another whammy of a story. She’s also a very good artist and poet, was petite and very soft-spoken. In fact, she used to stutter from nerves or maybe fear, I not sure which. She had dark hair and eyes. She was built almost like a young boy. She always stayed alone in her room and read or wrote in her journal. She spent all the years I knew her writing to appeal her case. I was attracted by her intelligence. And she was always kind to me and helpful.

She said she was the high princess of the KKK in Georgia. She had been present at a murder. At least that’s what she told me. Some thought she ordered it. I don’t  know. She had stated to me that she had believed segregation was noble and in fact Holy, ordained by God. But, that she was mentally ill to have believed that.  So she blames her participation in the KKK as one under the influence of a serious mental illness.  She had also said that if she left or gave up her place she would have been killed as well.

She was very smart, quiet and extremely shy in prison. Of course, her crime was on the down low because there were more African Americans in prison at that time than Caucasians.

I wouldn’t be like her either.

These women have already served over 20 years for whatever they did. And they are still there.

But getting back to the showers – One day I was in the shower alone. It was right after 9/11 and I had quit smoking for about two months. I was feeling so relaxed and peaceful. I had washed my hair and  dried it off. I was drying off  my body leaning over to dry my legs when I felt something plop down on my head  above my right ear. It was a just a drop of water from the ceiling. Yet it was so much more than that. The ceiling had horrible stuff growing on it, fungus and bacteria that even applications of bleach and paint never got rid of. But when I felt that drop land on my head I felt the heaviest weirdest  feeling of doom I’d ever felt. It jolted  my spirit inside me as that little water droplet touched my scalp and sent a wave of fear throughout my being. I didn’t understand it at all. It’s only water, I thought.  A couple of days later an itchy spot developed on my scalp at the place of the water drop. I went to the doctor and got fungal cream for it. It only grew larger. Nothing would stop the growth of whatever this was. It covered my entire scalp and then traveled into my ears.

Finally after filing many grievances about this strange condition I was taken to a dermatologist who diagnosed me with psoriasis. He prescribed some expensive shampoos and ointments that kept it under control. It was strange, the doctor had said because I had told him that no one in my family ever had psoriasis and I was 41 years old and had  just now gotten it.

Well stress and bad diet can kill you, so I’m sure it can also turn on the gene that causes psoriasis.

From then on I lived with chronic scalp psoriasis that required washing my hair every day. Conditioners could not be used because they made the psoriasis worse. The prescription conditioner recommended for me was too expensive and the state wouldn’t pay for it nor allow my family to mail it in.  So I began a regimen of topical steroid treatments and anti fungal shampoos along with the old standard tar shampoo.  When I took a shower I smelled like a dog that had just gotten a flea dip.  I had to take a full arm’s load of different hair products to the shower. When people saw me coming down the hall with all those stinky hair products in my arms, they got out-of-the-way.  No one wanted to shower with me anymore. I thought, “Praise the Lord!”

If you need more information about psoriasis and its treatment contact: http://www.national


To Eat or Not to Eat in Prison (18) By Edna Merle




Food can be orgasmic. It had been that way for me before in my life. When I saw the movie 9 and a half weeks it became even more so. Food was a way of life that encompassed the emotional and sexual and even the deviant side of the way I lived. I overdid everything, including drugs, which for me food had become.

My mother has always been a great cook who created Italian and French cuisines to present to her unaware family. Oh, we knew the food tasted great. And we always came home for dinner but we didn’t know what went into the creation and we certainly didn’t know about the desire that stimulated the creation in the first place. But we very rarely missed dinner. That was actually like ritual to my family; dinner was eaten together.

When I was sentenced to do 17 years in prison in May of 1996 I couldn’t fathom the fact that food would most certainly not be a highlight of my existence there. I remember when my dad died in November 1997; one of my first thoughts was that he would not be able to enjoy his corned beef sandwich or his eggplant anymore. And, oh, I cried when I knew he wouldn’t make chicken soup again. But the thing that really upset me was the fact that I would never make him chocolate chip cookies and give him one hot from the oven. That broke my heart because I had told my dad that I would make him cookies when I came home. Now it was never to be.

Food is a very important part of most people’s everyday life. They live their life around food. They live to eat. But when I went to prison I very consciously made up my mind to change my emotional brain into thinking: I eat to live, not live to eat, as I had done in my past life and was how I did everything else too. It was live to get high, live to have sex, live to make money, live to become something special. I never thought I was special and that maybe was why I needed to live in the first place.

As I said before in an earlier blog post, I was reborn through the love of Christ. And so I was able without too much pain, to change my thinking into eat to live, instead of live to eat.  Frankly the food in prison sucked. Prison food is unhealthy and barely sustains life (all that is required).  So it would be difficult to enjoy it or consider eating in prison as a highlight to one’s day. It was just something to get through, get over with so that you might be able to enjoy the next hour or so allotted for “free time”.

The dining hall wasn’t without excitement. One day I decided I needed to try to eat breakfast, so I went to the dining hall. The Correctional officer was watching the serving window to ensure everyone got their required amount. Standing at the service line looking through the service window the trays were lined up when I noticed one looked different. It was two trays ahead of mine. It had something black sticking out of the grits which was the main food on the tray. The tray came through the window and the receiver grabbed the tray and proceeded to move when suddenly she screamed and threw the tray on the floor.

What we saw was a rat-tail that had been strategically placed under her grits with the ends sticking out ever so cleanly on the edges. The officer said nothing. In fact, kept the line moving. The episode was as if it never happened. We who saw it left in disgust and anger. That was the kind of thing that happened every day, every meal, but was kept quiet, like nothing ever happened. You’d almost think you could have imagined it or maybe dreamed it. Because in the real world something would most certainly have been said, or made of that. It would have been on TV in the news. Not simply overlooked, hushed and kept seriously on the down low. Everything was kept on the down low in prison. That’s one reason why prison felt like living in an alternate reality of the olden days, say in the 1950’s. Really, prison hasn’t progressed much since then. They haven’t been able to. They can’t afford to progress.  Progressing would entail  better jobs in prison, more higher educational opportunities, equal rights between races, preventative healthcare and much more, an impossibility because no one agency can afford it. The system as it is provides what is called adequate healthcare. The system does nothing to promote health, only sustains life. So, what the prisoner is provided to subsist on after many years may very well promote illness and death.  This is a huge problem.

In the early years of my prison eating experience I discovered a food supplement for farm animals was being served to us. It was called VitaPro.   The container it came in clearly said on the side, “Not for human consumption”. Yet, this is what we were given until people started getting sick and the words on the packaging leaked out.  That was a dirty business. But just one example of how the system tried to cut food cost regardless of the consequences.  I guess that’s an easy thing to do because most people that aren’t in prison or have family members in prison do not know about the food problems or if they did, don’t really care. It’s not their problem.

Here is an example of a salad: two pieces of the palest lettuce leafs that you could see through if you held them up to the light. That’s it, salad for you. Not even worth the energy it takes to place them in your mouth.

The very last Thanksgiving I spent in prison was the worst of my whole incarceration. Usually, Thanksgiving is awesomely wonderful and a true reminder of home. This last one the free world food service workers stole the turkeys and lettuce. So the inmates had shredded turkey and lettuce cores for their salad. It was such a disappointment I wanted to cry. I was so mad. Yet there was nothing we could do, and then the holiday was over. I attributed it to my one more final thrust of being F—–d before my release, to ensure I’d never be back.

And that is also a good point. The food in prison can’t be good, really. If it was, more people would commit crimes to be sentenced to prison. So honestly they can’t make the eating an enjoyable experience. But, damn it didn’t have to been an unhealthy one as well.

So many prisoners end up with hypothyroidism because of the lack of fresh vegetables and the fact that they are served too many items made with soy. Even the items sold at the prison commissary have soy added as a major ingredient or by-product. Soy interferes with the thyroid hormone which is the motor of the body. So, after many years of bad diet and stress one may end up with more illnesses than they came in with. Then the cost of healthcare eventually rises and that prisoner has cost the state even more money than the crime itself has warranted.  But alas, what can one do?

We can only ask our congressmen, I’m told. But I don’t have one as I’m not allowed the right to vote, yet.


2 Responses to To Eat or Not to Eat in Prison (18) By Edna Merle

  1. Kirk DuVall says:

I’ve never had such an inside look into a system of our government that you provide for us. I hope you can understand my position here, that the priority of the penal system is not to keep the inmates healthy, it’s to keep society healthy from crime. With that said, I would vote today to bring back prison farms, where the inmates would work a row crop type of farm, and even raise and butcher livestock, for there meals. That would provide good food, and good exercise for the inmates, at a low cost to society. I cringe every time I see these huge convicts in prison that are working out with weights, getting stronger and stronger, so when they reenter the real world, the look like bodybuilders !!! ( that scares me !!! ) I’d rather them look kinda scrawny and weak, ( like me !!! ) Plus the farm and ranch idea, would build job skills, give much needed exercise, and knowledge, that might help them when and if they are released. I don’t have cattle anymore, but when I did. It took a lot of effort to raise and keep these animals. I see it as a win win situation. Also I think more effort should be put into education. If I was on a parole board, I would require a ( GED ) before release of any inmate. Just my thoughts !!!

  1. ednamerle says:

October 11, 2010 at 11:58 am (Edit)

There are a lot of working prison farms in Georgia. Where I was in the North Georgia Mountains there was a pig farm and a cow farm. Trustee status inmates worked on those farms because they were located outside of the prison on the surrounding land. They didn’t do any slaughtering there. They artificially inseminated the pigs at the Alto location. The women that worked there loved the job. They loved the little pigs and felt comfortable doing the job. It was a job I couldn’t have done.

There are dairy farms in prison that the men work at as well as vegetable farms. That is where most of the food for the inmates in Georgia’s prisons comes from. On one occasion that I know of at Alto opening a huge can of “greens” produced a nice leather glove. Then opening another found its match. It was kind of funny and gross too.

Around 1995 the work out equipment was removed from most of the prisons in Georgia. So to work out the prisoners would fill net bags with plastic bottles filled with water and hoist those things up and down. They would also participate in aerobics, yoga and a host of other exercise programs available without machines that included basketball, volleyball, baseball and touch football. But that was not a routine that could be relied upon. One day didn’t have to be like the one before it or after. The officers, if there were enough of them would have a “yard call” or “gym call”. But on many occasions there simply weren’t enough officers to facilitate any recreation.

You are also correct that a GED should be a prerequisite of parole. It actually is in most cases. There are a few who seem to get around it though. But for the most part if someone is sentenced to prison and doesn’t have a high school diploma or a GED they are most of the time required to “go to school” until that is achieved before they can have a job in the prison and/or come up for parole. Remember that parole is an early release from prison. So, if someone doesn’t want to go to school they can opt out of an early release and do all their time (max out). I knew too many that chose that route. It baffled me. But when an inmate could work in the kitchen they usually would make arrangements to take items and sell them to other inmates by way of trading for things bought from the commissary. That way they could get cigarettes and coffee and other things they wanted if they didn’t have money sent into them from a family member or friends. So sometimes these people would prefer smoking and drinking coffee over getting a free GED. The people who did acquire their GED in prison also received a HOPE grant to go towards furthering their education either while still in prison or after release.

I only knew one body builder in prison. Mostly body builders are in the men’s prisons where they better be fit or suffer indignities you can imagine I’m sure being a guy.



Our 3 Marriages and The Cleaning Bug (17) By Edna Merle

September 7th, 2009 I went to see my parole officer. It was the standard monthly visit with the $30.00 fee, urine test and copies of last two weeks of pay stubs. This time it was different because my leg monitor came off.  Wow, it’s over, I thought. The leg monitor was no longer part of my fashion statement.  Excitedly, I went home and told mom the news. She was ecstatic seeing my bare ankle. I felt so free.

The next parole visit in October granted me permission to live with Jan.  He had driven me to my parole appointment and we went from there to mom’s house to tell her that I had permission to move and had in fact already changed the address to Jan’s new house. Jan had previously sold his house in Stone Mountain, GA and moved to “Hooterville” to be near me so I could stay in the county of which I was supervised on parole. He came to Hooterville and found a beautiful house near “The Lake” and quickly set up house and came for me.

Mom seemed like she couldn’t get rid of me fast enough. I was actually hurt by her reaction to the permission granted me. Upon entry into her house I said, “Mom, they said I could move. I gave them the address and everything is transferred to that new address”. She said, “Well, hurry up and get out of here. Do you need me to carry anything”?  I was so shocked that she wanted me gone; I barely kept the tears away until her garage door closed behind me. I cried in the car to Jan, I cried when we got to the house. My feelings were devastated. I figured that she’d lived without a boss for the last ten years and my coming home had put such a strain on her with having to drive me everywhere; work, groups, meetings, etc. that she’d just had enough of that responsibility and enough of having her ex con daughter as a roommate. I had criticized her in different areas of our living arrangement. For instance I had a hard time with every surface in her house having many objects on them. If I put my glasses down somewhere, I couldn’t find them until I searched room to room on all the surfaces for them. They were hard to find because I had to look over so much stuff. That frustrated me a lot.  It was an almost every day occurrence that I couldn’t find my glasses. We figured that we needed to design a bell that would ring when we pushed a button to find my glasses. You know like they have for remote telephones.  Yes, it’s a good idea but right then I needed my glasses and didn’t have the money or the logistics to work out this great new invention. Also, mom didn’t like for me to load her dishwasher. Every time I would clean the kitchen she would come after me and reload it. That also got on my nerves. I tried to understand why things bothered me so much and finally figured it was because in prison, in my cell, I had very few surfaces on which to put things. I had my bed on which nothing could go on during inspection time, which was from 8:00 until 4:30 PM Monday through Friday. I had the top of my locker which had the same time frame restrictions as the bed. I had the inside of my locker which had to also remain inspection ready until the aforementioned time. So, there were no surfaces on which any one thing could stay unless it was after hours or the weekend. As a result my personal property was limited and thus easily locatable.

When I went home I was astounded at all the stuff on every single surface in my mother’s house. There were photos on dressers, desks, walls, side tables and corner tables. There were dishes and pots and pans on the kitchen counters, as well as prescription medications in various rooms, an illegal thing in prison. There were mirrors of every shape and size on every wall in her house. And, there was dust. There was lots of dust on all this stuff. My first thought was, “Oh God, she’s going to fail inspection”! So, I had to help. I couldn’t live that way knowing that it wouldn’t have been permissible in prison. I learned later that I was overwrought with stress that I’d fail inspection and be sent back to prison. It was frustrating and hard for me to change that belief. Lots of stuff makes me feel as if I’m confused and out-of-order. So, I clean a lot when I have the time.

Now I know mom wasn’t happy to get rid of me. It was that she had just gotten me back and I was leaving again. But this time the leaving was in a good way.  Mom told us later over dinner one night “Your father would have approved”. She meant of my new husband. Yes, my dad would most definitely like Jan Cordele. I know he likes him now. Well, it’s just a feeling I have.

Anyway even though Jan and I had already shared our parking lot vows claiming our  1stmarriage in the sight of God I felt it wasn’t quite enough and I wasn’t willing to risk God withdrawing from me because I wasn’t being obedient to His word and  ”living in sin”. So, we decided we’d visit the Justice of the Peace. We made the date for November 6th and our second marriage was on that date with only my mother as a witness. Jan gave her a plastic steer for my dowry. That’s what mom said she wanted. She also said she’d need chickens for my sister. But she didn’t get any when 3 months later my sister remarried. Nope. Only Jan was obedient there.

For my 2nd wedding I had nothing to wear so I borrowed a black velvet shawl that went over a lacy top I’d been given by my aunt and a full length black velvet skirt. Jan bought me flowers and a corsage. They were beautiful. My shoes were a little too big and because I hadn’t walked in anything but flat shoes for over a decade I wasn’t the most graceful bride. But the skirt was a little too long so I had to wear those shoes. I was happy and terrified that I was truly getting married in a legal way. When I heard the Judge say “till death do you part”, it really hit me that this thing is forever.  But that’s what I wanted.  Jan and I  say now “we’ll be together forever, and a day”.

So we were married that day and that night Jan took me to see Cavalia for our “Honeymoon”. It was a beautiful, strange and very sweet night for us.

The feeling of being married was different.  Suddenly at fifty years of age I felt so mature and normal that I almost wanted to say ‘forget it’. I didn’t want to be changed and I didn’t want our relationship to change. But Jan made me feel so comfortable and natural that I began to relax into my new loved role of being a married woman. Wow! I still can’t believe it. I never thought I’d ever marry.

Our family and close friends were highly perturbed that we got married without them. They let us know on every possible occasion that it “just wasn’t right”. So, we decided we’d do it again on May 8th, 2010 at our home. My mother made beef tenderloin, hearts of palm salad, we had shrimp cocktail and fruits and vegetables, pork tenderloin sandwiches, beer, wines, soft drinks and music. That day I felt was truly the day we were really married. That day was my real wedding. We had a  friend who performed our service and the weather was perfect. It was a magical day that I’ll never forget. So, that was our 3rdmarriage. And now you know how and why we were married 3 times.

Now we’re coming up on our anniversary and we’re planning another celebration.  We figure we’d like to get married every 6 months or so. And whoever is around, well they can come.

Got to close this out for now because I got to go clean the kitchen and get the clothes in the dryer. And one of our cats is demanding to be fed again. He’s a real tub of lard. This cat is addicted to food. He’s going to have to start going to meetings or something. Guess I’ll give him the low down while I’m doing the dishes.

Married life is a soothing thing. I know where I stand now.


2 Responses to Our 3 Marriages and The Cleaning Bug (17) By Edna Merle

  1. Barbara says:

September 28, 2010 at 10:37 pm (Edit)

Me thinks the Mother was treating you as an adult, who had unfortunately missed so much as the years flew by like the falling leaves . Maybe you forgot she was much older now and perhaps so much of her existance had taken a toll on her and she too had collected “dust” as well as the house and those things just weren’t that important any more .


September 28, 2010 at 11:02 pm (Edit)

Yes, I did forget she had aged. I hadn’t seen her in over 3 years during which time she endured much grief. I was selfish, I’m sorry. But so elated to be home I didn’t realize how badly she’d suffered until the last year when she shared her trials and her memories and the things she still hopes for. It hurts that I missed so much and could do nothing to help, but was a heartache on her always in the back of her mind, probably feeling undeserved guilt for my errors. God, how I wish I could undo it all! Yet still, I’m a better person today for having gone through it. And through it all she was there for me. My mother has ALWAYS been my best friend. She NEVER let me down. steadfast through hell. My mother is an Angel on Earth and God rewards her mightily for the heart she shares with everyone. To all who read this please thank God for me, for my wonderful mother.

Joey, My Prison Puppy (16) By Edna Merle

I was exceedingly depressed when I went to prison at thirty-five years old in 1995, not only because of the diagnosis of mental illnesses I acquired but because I was facing seventeen years in prison. My life was essentially over.

But the hard shell that surrounded me surrendered to the heart of God, allowing me to finally be free from the ways of my past. I began to breathe freely like inhaling a new kind of air. I was finally learning to love myself.

So began a renewal of my mind – my life. For the first time in twenty-six years, I was a drug free.

I felt like an emotional child, excited and happy to be alive, which was new for me. The unexplained fear I’d felt all my life was gone.

The prison years rolled on and the longer I was drug free, the happier I was. Then, in August 2002, I was chosen to be part of a new program called Inmates Practicing Animal Care and Training (IMPACT) at Metro State Prison in Atlanta.

Six puppies were paired with inmates for socializing, obedience, and distraction training. These puppies were the first in a Georgia Women’s prison and would become guide dogs for the blind, if everything went right.

The other inmates and I were like one big family with six babies. We couldn’t stop smiling. We had one year with these pups and we were overjoyed.

My puppy was Joey, a blond Lab with the silkiest golden ears and velvety chocolate eyes. The tiny pads on the bottom of his paws were the softest things I’ve ever touched. I loved to put his paws on my face with my nose between the furry spaces of his toes and just breathe. I loved my puppy’s smell.

He was eight weeks old when I became Joey’s mom. Less than one month later, he weighed thirty pounds. He tilted his head when I talked to him. I knew that meant he was asking a question, even if it was only, “Huh?” I could never get enough of Joey. We were a team.

Joey was a gentle soul who played nicely and never barked unless something was wrong. I heard him bark one time. But he did snore ever so sweetly.  His expressive eyes communicated exactly what he wanted or needed. He followed me everywhere, and when I hid from him his eyes lit up when he found me. I could see how much he loved me. I hugged and squeezed him and he returned my love. He knew he was loved, I made sure of that.

People said Joey was neurotic because I loved him too much. So what, I thought. He didn’t like to stand on wet grass or get dirty. When the other dogs had free play (free-dogging), he ran and played for a while and then stood on the sidewalk and watched the other dogs from afar.

He disliked cold water on his body and hated being hosed off, crying until it was over. That broke my heart, so Joey got warm baths instead, for which he was thankful.

That year it was so hot that Joey didn’t want to “work” when I put his little blue coat on signaling it was time to get to work. He would lie with his legs stretched awkwardly pretending to be sick or injured. He would run to a shady spot and throw himself down. It was important for Joey to want to work, so I had a plan. I sang to him to lift his spirits. I tried all sort of song until I the right one.

I personalized Frosty the Snowman to Joey the Snowman. He liked the word snowman. It really perked him up. His tail would wag as I sang, then he would stand and off we’d go to “work.”

Walking up and down the prison compound, I sang Joey the snowman – poo pee doo pee doo pee doo, boo pee doo pee doo pee doo pee doo pee doo pee doo pee doo, over and over until we were finished.

The inmates and staff thought I was nuts but I didn’t care because Joey’s tail swayed to the song, with a pep in his step, his head held high. So I knew he liked it and that’s all that mattered to me.

One evening we all took the dogs out for a walk. That was the first time I say Joey smile. He looked right at me and smiled. The sides of his mouth curled up and he showed his pretty teeth. I couldn’t believe it. I yelled, “Joey smiled.” This dog was wonderful. He would smile and wag his tail. “What a good dog,” I would tell him and hug him.

Once a week Joey went with me to Yoga class. He did movements along with me. Since I was on the floor, he thought it was playtime. He’d slowly crawl and push himself closer and closer to me with just his back legs, keeping his front paws still, so that I wouldn’t notice until he would suddenly be face to face with me. Everyone was amused by Joey’s antics even though he did disrupt the class.

I remember one day when we were leaving yoga class and were walking towards the door, Joey stopped and looked at me and said, “ORRWEEGA!” Then he stretched into the downward dog position and back to stand. It seemed that he had just said, “I love you.” I picked him up and squeezed him and said, “I love you too.” The two yoga instructors said in unison, “Awwwww.”

Joey and the other IMPACT dogs graduated a year after arriving. They were going off to professional guide dog school in Florida.

We were sad but had anticipated this day and were prepared for it.

Even as of this writing ten years later, I think of Joey and smile. He didn’t make it as a guide dog and was adopted by a loving family. I still miss him and I’ll never stop loving him. I will always be thankful for the chance I had to know him.  Joey was a great dog, and my only son.




The Dating Life (15) By Jan Cordele

No, God, please not that; anything but that!”

My silent plea went unanswered as my date for the evening cradled the repulsive purse on her lap and folded her arms over it as if the door was going to be pried open any moment by a swarm of terrorists intent on snatching the hideous handbag from her grasp. We were traveling at a modest 45 miles per hour down her neighborhood street in order to outrun the skateboard crew who were making screaming-faces at us.

“I think you ran over one of their skateboards,” my date said, slyly lifting one arm to insert a hand into the strange black-and-silver bag on her lap.

If she pulls out a lipstick tube I’ll just ram us headfirst into that old oak tree ahead, I told myself.

She did pull out a lipstick tube, faded fake gold over what appeared to be industrial plastic last used in the Space Shuttle, but I had already paid for our concert tickets and really didn’t think I could sell them to a friend in less than 10 seconds. The oak tree roared past.

My date slowly – oh so slowly – rolled the tube so a good amount of the apple-red substance shone brightly at its tip, somewhat resembling the magic bullet that killed JFK. She applied the color to her lips so that her pasty white skin took on that beautiful corpse-like pallor that thrills undertakers after they embalm their client. My date had powdered her face with cement, I think, with a hint of gravel tossed in for that windblown effect. Her hair glowed in the street lights, most probably from the toxic formula she had recently used to give the old follicles the look of a royal Egyptian woman unearthed in the desert after three thousand years underground as a mummy.

She wore a stunning pants outfit that subtly revealed her upper neck, and nothing more. It was the old school look circa 1947. Therein lies the rub. If this woman were only a few decades older she would look almost exactly like my Aunt Jewel, who guarded her purse constantly, even at home, where she crammed it under her bed or plunked it behind the mayonnaise jar in the fridge. Aunt Jewel wore ridiculously red lipstick that she applied every five minutes as if the act of breathing would melt it from her lips. I don’t know why but these traits had distressed me as a kid. Now I was trapped with a woman who was obviously channeling Aunt Jewel.

Edna Merle may have been in the Big House but I was in the Nut House; the real world, in other words. The inmates here are insidious and highly dangerous, and that is just the suburban crowd. Before I met and married Edna Merle I was just another prisoner of modern American life.

Here is what I thought at the time: Dating at my age is composed of equal parts of fear and revulsion layered with sheer terror, at best. When I get lucky on a date now it means I’ve been able to get out of there without having to fake a kiss. Either women over 50 dress like they are 19, to highlight their wrinkles and age lines, I think, and end up looking like they are 75, or they dress as a cadaver, just in case they have to visit the funeral parlor before the night ends. It can’t end soon enough for me.

As we parked the car and approached the outdoor concert venue, my date of the evening was droning on about her prescription drugs, the tiny red ones for her heart, the big red ones for her liver, the green-and-white for her stomach, and the gold ones for her ass; No, really, her buttocks, rear end, tushy, bum. Seems these were the only pills doing their job. She was obviously trying to turn me on by detailing her night sweats and hot flashes and urination schedule, which was set to begin at that very moment, so she needed to take one of her white pills. She scurried off to the Porta-Johnny while I contemplated dashing back to the car and driving to Asia or maybe Antarctica. Any small country would do.

But no; I instead took my place in the half-block long line to get a $7 glass of wine poured into a plastic glass from a large cardboard box. I could have filled out my 1040 long form while waiting. Instead, I listened to the two women in front of me discuss their prescription drugs: the tiny red ones for their heart, the big red ones for their liver, the green-and-white for their stomach, and the blue ones for their husbands. “He still only gets it up half way. Thank God it is only once a month,” one said. “Oh, Lord, we only do it on special high holidays,” cackled the other.

I ordered three glasses of wine when I finally got to the counter, with my date still nowhere to be seen, and downed one of them before walking away. Standing next to the kiosk selling $35 t-shirts of the group we were about to see, I downed another glass of the watery wine. I felt the slightest buzz at that point so I figured, what the hell, I chugged the other.

Just then she appeared looking white as the swirling flashes I was experiencing. “My blood sugar seems to be running low. Could you get me a glass of wine,” she asked, holding tightly to that damned purse.

“You look tired. Let me show you to our seats then I’ll come back,” I said, plotting my getaway.

After crawling over several tables replete with enough food to feed a Third World country, we arrived at our seats only to find the two women from the line, still discussing their predilection for prescriptions, on the bench next to us. I left my date to join in the chat about incontinence.

Back at the wine stall, after waiting long enough for the opening group’s four-song act to come and go, I paid $28 for four glasses of the boxed wine and downed two of them before leaving. I contemplated drinking the others as I lumbered around a middle-aged couple with day-glo hair and matching outfits that had clearly last been worn during the Carter administration. But I resisted the temptation. I did, however, treat myself to someone’s chicken wings and pickled artichokes as I scaled the tables filled with grub.

As I slid into my seat I noted that one of the women was reading from a portablePhysician’s Desk Reference book about Astrointhricane or some other commonly used pill for GI troubles. My date sat enthralled and barely acknowledged my presence. She took her glass of wine and sipped at it for the rest of the night, her purse now snuggly ensconced between her unyielding thighs. I slurped mine down as the main act was being introduced by some old geezer who said he was once a DJ on the local AM radio station. He looked like my grandfather, if he were still alive at 109.

It was hard to believe the men who took the stage had once been young, vibrant musicians who could party all night and day and still play a concert to thrill 30,000 screaming teenagers high on pot and cocaine and whatever else they could throw down their throats. The drummer had to be helped up to his high rise by two roadies. The guitarist needed another assistant to find the plug to connect into his amp. The bass player sat on a stool, evidently drooling into a bucket strategically placed by what looked like a male nurse. Only the lead singer appeared to be capable enough to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. But he was dressed in one of those half-halter tops that allowed his beer belly the freedom to flow over black stretch pants that had enough fabric to cover the amphitheater.

The band’s tepid rendition of their minor hits from the mid-70’s had the crowd roaring in delight. But that didn’t stop the tête-à-tête regarding topical creams versus emulsified ointments from raging next to me. If I had not been blocked by a pile of hummus and a container of pita chips, I would have gone back for yet more wine.

Soon the group ran out of breath or had to be hooked back up to their IV bags. They locked arms for a final bow and were whisked away, still interlocked, I believe, so they could remain standing, by a brawny group of men dressed in white t-shirts that I swear had a geriatric hospital logo on them.

I had to tear my date away from her new found friends, but not before they all exchanged phone numbers for their primary physicians, optometrists, urologist, podiatrists, neurologists and chiropractors. The wine had long ago left my system so I drove at a modest 75 miles per hour back to my date’s home, where I briefly deliberated simply throwing her out without stopping. But my gentlemanly character prevented me from such a cowardly act. I bravely walked her to her door where, purse safely held against her non-existent chest, she gave me a peck on the cheek before closing her door and fastening her deadbolt securely behind her.

I smeared the red lipstick from my cheek. For the first time that evening I felt euphoria come over me, but then I realized it was just a full bladder.

Such was my life before Edna Merle. Thank goodness she has made me feel young again without the assistance of prescription medicines. And I constantly thank her for saving me from The Dating Life.


One Response to The Dating Life (15) By Jan Cordele

  1. Barbara says:

August 7, 2010 at 11:24 am (Edit)

This should be a reality show. Super funny.



The World Went on Without Me (14) A Poem By Edna Merle

Heartbroken the world went on without me

Distraught I was left behind

Standing alone at the gate, slammed shut

Facing fate of  laying on the ground

Yet appeared softer than my lover’s eye far removed from me

I walked on a vision in the past, a memory doomed to be

And on and on they went those memories

Like rain flowing down a winding creek

The sky was crying too

No green mossy banks for me nor clear sparkling water

Dry and dusty I remained while the storm raged on

My soul  felt dead, and my tears fell unchecked

I prayed out of desperation while anguish remained my only friend

A  public war for all to see they watched me on the news.

They watched me sleep in bed

One who would be seen no more

By any who had cared for me

All my dreams and desires absorbed by a concrete floor.

Tiptoeing in to my cell came hope and a belief

And it settled next to me

Then climbed inside my troubled mind

And eased my soul for free

It held me aloft in a sort of supernatural suspension

Safe while everything went on around me.

Surprised with this unexpected sense of hope I smiled.

God comes to us sometimes unexpectedly

In my most difficult trial He came

And He stayed and I became a better person


4 Responses to The World Went on Without Me (14) A Poem By Edna Merle

  1. Barbara says:

July 31, 2010 at 4:16 pm (Edit)

After the walk through hell, you met God who finally set you free.


  • Michael says:

July 31, 2010 at 9:06 pm (Edit)

Not only a better person but one with a clear mind, sound body and open heart. I love the person you are.


August 1, 2010 at 9:36 pm (Edit)

I love you too.

August 1, 2010 at 9:36 pm (Edit)

He will do the same for all who ask.



Diane Sawyer Comes to Prison (13) By Edna Merle 1 Vote

Prison life was infused with characters. In prison I knew a lot of violent inmates but most of them functioned normally with the regular population. One inmate I knew who lived in the predator dorm told me that after she and some friends had seen the movie Natural Born Killers they decided it would be fun to duplicate it. So they went out and terrorized some people. Then they killed them. Now they all have life sentences without parole.

It was in this building where the world renowned TV reporter Diane Sawyer came to visit. Supposedly she was going to live with the inmates for a weekend so she could share her experiences on TV. She slept in the “honor dorm,” the safest place to be in prison. That night she was presented a cake in the shape of a penis three feet long and a foot wide.  Later, we watched in amazement on TV as the Deputy Warden gracefully stuck her finger into the cake and tasted the frothy icing. She said it was good. Ms. Sawyer smiled. She evidently was impressed with the creative efforts of the inmate who had made the cake. I remember staring at the TV with my mouth open, shocked, thinking “something isn’t right about this” and then laughing my ass off.

Ms. Sawyer put on the prison khaki elastic waist pants with the button-up shirt, wore her hair back in a pony tail, and slipped on the black work boots. She was an inmate. But you knew she wasn’t one of us because she walked down the middle of the walkway. There is a designated yellow line where prisoners must walk to the right of in a very narrow space about two or three feet. Not only did she insist on walking down the very middle with her entourage of camera men but she was also drinking a Coke out of what appeared to be a glass bottle. Glass is forbidden! And prisoners were most definitely not allowed to eat or drink their store-bought items outside of their housing units. It’s not even legal to carry a bag of peanuts in your pocket outside.  So immediately we all thought “she can’t even walk on the right side of the road, she’d never make it through diagnostics!”  Diagnostics is the initial intake housing unit of prisoners before they are classified. It is extremely strict, military like. Being classified determines the level of security the inmate will need, level of education and medical issues. All those things and more determine where an inmate will be sent to live and what type of job they may be capable of doing. Diagnostics is the worst phase of prison, the most uncomfortable and the most harassing.

We learned later that her motive for this visit was not to show the real prisoners. She focused on the characters in the violent building that could show her how to fabricate sexual devices. They were actually allowed to show her step by step how to make a dildo. She discussed relationship issues with a woman who played the man role. She wanted to know about her love for her “wife.” And Ms. Sawyer wanted to know how to make fire without matches. Her inmate friends showed her how by sticking lead and foil into the electric wall receptacles. Sex and fire sells. The deputy warden and other staff stood by watching all this happen as if they were condoning these activities that would have normally have sent anyone else to lockdown for many days.  But these inmates were doing it for TV so it was OK.  If the Fire Marshal had been there he probably would have shut down the building.

When we saw the actual TV documentary the majority of woman in prison were portrayed as practicing lesbians or bisexuals who only cared about their relationships in prison. And it appeared as if Ms. Sawyer was extremely interested in how the inmates illegally lit their cigarettes inside the buildings. I thought it was interesting that the warden allowed that to be exposed because when I complained about the smoke in the dorms he said, “Our buildings are smoke free.” That was funny because the nicotine was so thick in the dorms that the once stark white walls were golden-yellow and moist from people smoking inside. The smoke had nowhere to go because the windows did not open and there was very little ventilation. The TV report showed us as a wild-looking gathering outside at night on the yard with what looked like a fire in the background. I guess that was supposed to look like a campfire. The truth is no one is allowed outside at night. There is no “yard call” at night nor ever a campfire.  How they created the scene to look like that amazed us all.  I was embarrassed that the people I knew outside of prison would have seen that documentary and thought, “Oh, that’s what Edna Merle’s doing in there.” When the report showed on TV many of us called home to tell our families that’s not how it is in here. We do not live like that.

Two days after Ms. Sawyer left one of the “studs” she interviewed went into the library, grabbed her “wife” by the back of the head by her hair, threw her to the ground, and stomped on her face, breaking her nose. And she kept on stomping her face with her black work boots. This was no “punch in the nose”. Everyone there ran out of the library. Some locked themselves in the inmate’s bathroom. But all ran, and hid and feared the wounded girl would be dead soon and they’d be the next target. The librarian (media specialist) locked herself in her own private bathroom.  The CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) came with their shields and suits, but waited until the perpetrator was finished before they apprehended her.

Meanwhile, blood had traversed its way 30 feet from where the incident occurred. Blood was later found inside the pages of many books and under bookshelves. The carpet in the library that day looked like it had been a ritual site for a slaughter or an execution. One lady I know that was working there at the time was so traumatized by the violence and the blood she had to clean up that she was never the same afterward. She said the blood went everywhere “like it was a vicious animal.”

This lady had suffered from serious post traumatic stress disorder. Her crime: involuntary manslaughter and kidnapping. Here’s what happened. Her ex-husband lived in her basement. She was out at the store. When she came home her boyfriend was there and told her to get the ex-husband to come upstairs. So she yelled for her ex to come up. When he did the boyfriend killed him with a baseball bat: beat him over and over in the head until he was dead.

The ex-wife was convicted of “kidnapping” for telling him to come to another part of the house and convicted of involuntary manslaughter because it was involuntary on her part.  The sight of all the blood coming from her ex-husband’s body and head with the smell made an indelible mark she will never likely forget. So when she saw and smelled the blood in the library, it brought those memories back again; memories which weren’t so very far off.

I always liked her and I remember her as a very good person. She was a mother figure to many. She was short, chubby and had rosy cheeks that exuded good health. She was  friendly and would always help anyone in need. You could never imagine that she would have had anything to do with the murder of her ex-husband. When she told me her story, I was speechless.

It was a horrible incident. We sent letters to Ms. Sawyer letting her know what her star stud interviewed had done with the hope that she would amend her segment. She didn’t acknowledge our letters, which had to be sent home first for our families to mail for us.  Prison officials told us we could not send her letters or try to talk to her about any other part of prison life. If we did, they said, we would go to lockdown.

Soon that excitement and disappointment changed back into the regular daily grind of prison life and was forgotten. We felt dejected Ms. Sawyer had moved on without the real stories and real issues. The angst of our lives perhaps wouldn’t make a good story.

When I found the actual story report (see link below) it reaffirmed my belief that some of the truth had been omitted. And some of the events were also reported incorrectly.


4 Responses to Diane Sawyer Comes to Prison (13) By Edna Merle

  1. Jimmi haywire says:

    Great reading !

  2. Barbara says:

    I am finally getting to read all of your chapters. I know you now and it is difficult for me to picture all of this happening to you. You have a talent for expressing yourself and I hope you are thinking about publishing when it is complete. God bless you.

  3. Barbara says:

    Who would pay for this? Why not it would give you additional freedom to use all your God given talents.

Words Can’t Describe (12) By Jan Cordele

Before we moved in together, Edna Merle and I spent many a longing night talking on the telephone and exchanging e-mails. There were many miles separating us physically. We were never alone, however, as we had already become tied together emotionally and spiritually. The connection was as real as if we were holding hands. I told her to be careful because she was holding my heart.

She emerged from her years behind bars with a spirit that, to me, was unbelievable. She took every restriction heaped upon her and turned it into a positive. For example, her time in prison had given her the opportunity to read 1,000 books, most of them classics, and this had expanded her mind. She told me this like she was describing a visit to the library.

Yet I still could not understand how she had survived the confinement. So I wrote her this poem:

Phoenix Rising

Shake the ashes from your eyes
Blow its remnants from your nostrils
and breathe the first breath of your new life
Feel the fresh blood in your lungs, in your heart,
in your limbs, in your mind
Unfold your wings
to let the dead embers fall away.
Stretch towards the light for its plentiful strength
There is a new dawn ahead
Kick the old memories and pain aside
Stomp the cold ashes into the earth
and look towards the sky
Let the wind fill your wings and cleanse your soul
Rise up
Up from the cold ashes

Her new-found freedom inspired me. Any bitterness was lacking in her being. It was if she had simply gone into another room to get a book or a snack and emerged 14 years later without a trace of sorrow. She is always looking forward. Her incredible outlook on life inspired me to write another poem:

Edna Unbound

Edna unbound

is something to see

Flexing her muscles

her smiley muscles

Opening her eyes

her eyes to the soul

Tearing into life

like it was a Varsity chili dog

with onions

Edna unbound

is a miracle unfolding

Moving tenderly

at the speed of light

Soaring into the stars

on her wings of love

Reaching out for another soul

like it was a Varsity FO

with everything

In one late-night e-mail she told me how much she loved these poems. And then she wrote, “Beyond any words, love is larger and more exquisitely attuned to some intangible place inside of me. … How then are words at all appropriate?  There are none on this side of Heaven.”

Edna Merle was right. Words can’t begin to describe the human emotion of love. How can we define it? Why would we want to define it? It is outside of our pathetic understanding of who and what we really are. Love is not something you can turn on or off at the flick of a switch. It just is. So I had no choice but to accept the fact that Edna Merle and I were somehow destined to be together. Since we had first met all those years ago, when she was a kid of 11 and I a mature, or so I thought at the time, 17, we had been hurtling towards each other at the speed of starlight. Was it God’s plan or simply the fate of two human beings?

These questions once again had me writing a poem:

You Are Who You Are Supposed To Be

You are who you are supposed to be

a singer

a dreamer

a dancer

You have always been who you have become

a storyteller

a sunshine seeker

a believer

You will become who you are meant to be

a visionary

a partner

a lover

You are who you are supposed to be

We are writers undertaking a fruitless task: to somehow portray ourselves and others in words, words that cannot identify what is truly profound about our existence on this planet. But we are so dumb that we simply have to keep on trying. Edna Merle taught me that this is the only way to live.

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Our Flooded Bliss (10) By Edna Merle

He’d only gone up the road to get me some coffee and him a Sunday paper. He should have been back by now. When he was late I knew then that I had messed up. God had withdrawn from me  because I had lust in my heart . Then the rains came. Flooding rain so bad that sink holes were eating vehicles and families. I was terrified that I’d caused this somehow by deciding to stay the night with him at his home far away from my mother’s house.  I hadn’t stayed anywhere except with mom since I came home, and I needed permission from the parole people. Permission granted I went forth into what I thought was to become Noah’s flood for the second time.

When Jan Cordele was gone more than two hours I became very worried that he was hurt somewhere. Then I figured he’d call me. I’d learned by this time that everyone carried a phone with them. Even I had one now. I found mine and called Jan only to discover it ringing under his pillow!  Now, I was frantic. I went all through his house looking out every window to see if I could see him coming. I didn’t know what else to do.  My mom was over 45 minutes away and wouldn’t drive in a drizzle, much less a downpour. So she couldn’t help us. What to do, I didn’t know. So, I decided to see if there was anything to eat.  Food seems to be the comforter when no one’s around. Though in truth, it should always be the Lord. It would be if we’d let Him. He’s always just standing by waiting on us.  I ate and I prayed. Then I prayed some more.

Finally, Jan walked in looking literally liked he’d been drowned for a long time. There was not a dry part of him, I’m sure. He looked like an angel, though, bringing me coffee. He held it out for me and I took the soaked container and set it aside while he started drying off. He walked all that way home with a giant umbrella in one hand and a Starbucks coffee in the other. Looked like that coffee and umbrella were the most important things in the world as he handed them over. He was the most important thing to me now. Poor thing, his truck had broken down.

He knew I was distraught and asked me what was wrong. I looked around at the downpour and thought about the now broken down truck, and said “really, you don’t know?”. He was very perceptive and said, “Do you think you’ve let God down?” And I said, “Yes. I’ve stayed overnight with a man I’m not married to, will most assuredly have sex soon, too, and that will disappoint God even more because now I’ll have gone against everything I said I wouldn’t do because God has been so good to me over the last 14 years, that I owe God my allegiance, my heart. And I want to give that to Him always. And I’ve seem to have suddenly transferred my loyalties to you, who I love. But you’re not God and I must love God first.” Then I started crying because I knew then that I’d lost this man who I was very much in love with because I now sounded like a religious fanatic.

To my intense joy he held me and said that it was alright because since we love each other so much, we’re already married in the eyes of God. I knew that wasn’t quite right even though I’d never been married before, I had read the Bible and I knew what I believed.  A little while later, as the rain let up some, we walked back to try to get the truck.

The truck still wouldn’t start so we had to get a wrecker. Jan saw that I was still distraught over our predicament, so he went around the truck and opened my door and pulled me out into the rain, which was now a slight drizzle. He professed his love for me under the open sky. These, he said, are our vows professed in love which are Holy in the sight of God. After I’d said something like “yeah, OK,  you’re my husband and I’m your wife”, the sun came out for a moment and we saw a rainbow. It was as if God really was smiling on us. And truly, suddenly, I felt my repentance was accepted and that we were forgiven now to go in peace.

There aren’t hardly any public phone booths anymore nor can you find a phone book. So, we called my brother Lester who found us a number to call.  The wrecker came and my God, it was the most beautiful truck I’d ever seen. It was a huge flatbed shiny thing that was fully automatic. That truck must cost as much as a house, I thought. I asked Jan how we were ever going to afford this truck and why couldn’t we just have gotten the regular kind, you know the kind that pulls your car. This thing was for race cars and other high profile vehicles, I thought. He just laughed and said they’re all pretty much like this now. I was amazed.  We rode in that magnificent vehicle to the NTW where we left Jan’s truck. Then the tow truck driver drove us home in that beautiful chariot. It was incredible. And the sun was out.


One Response to Our Flooded Bliss (10) By Edna Merle

  1. LadyPoetica says:

July 15, 2010 at 2:45 am (Edit)

I always think of a rainbow as a sign from God that the storm has passed, and that He’s smiling down at us saying now things are going to be ok. When that rainbow appeared that day it was just for you and Jan!! It was God’s way of saying He approved




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