If you had told me ten years earlier I would be a nurse maid to critters and birds, I would have laughed. I never thought I would get attached to a bird and I’ve loved every minute.
Incarcerated: 33 years
Housed: Marion Correctional Facility, Ohio
Since the age of 19, I’ve only been free a couple years. I turned 68 this year. I’ve been locked up due to drugs and alcohol. A classic case of stupid. I will start by telling you about my turn around from screw-up to avoiding trouble. I haven’t had an infraction in prison since 1997, no fights, no dope. Now here’s how I turned around. In ‘97 I hit rock bottom and was out of weed. There was a thunderstorm, lightning and wind on the compound. I was eight years in and feeling lost, unloved and full of anger. I crawled out a window and yelled at God. I dared Him to put a bolt of lightning in my chest. I cried, shook and snot ran like a river out my nose. I made up my mind to end my life. I started to sort my property, one pile to send home, one to throw out. I came across the bible I earned in summer bible school at the church. It was like a voice came to me to write the preacher back home. It took two weeks before I got an answer. He said, “Dale Jesus forgave you, you need to forgive yourself.” I gave my life to Jesus and with his help I have changed my attitude and ways. My craving for drugs and alcohol went away. I’ve done dozens of bible studies by mail over the past 25 years and took on the attitude of learning and bettering myself. I was transferred to Mansfield Correctional and was accepted into the dog training program. My friend, Tony, was in the wild life bird program and he wrote and told me about it. I put in for a transfer and went to Marion where Tony got me into the wild life bird program. He was a good teacher and mentor. Sadly, he died of cancer after just five months of us working together. If you had told me ten years earlier I would be a nurse maid to critters and birds, I would have laughed. I never thought I would get attached to a bird and I’ve loved every minute. I’ve learned to care and love again and start my adventure into learning instead of losing. In my mind, I rock the baby birds and think of my daughter and my grandkids, whom I never got to hold or rock.