Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Encouragement (02/23/12)
TITLE: Encourage Mint
By Tim Pickl
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There’s so much I want to tell you today.
Every time I thought about writing this letter, I started crying.
I feel so bad that we haven’t spoken for all these years—it’s my fault. It’s my fault for what happened between us. When I turned 18, I think I turned into a monster. The fight we had that day was all staged: I just wanted to move out and do my own thing. But I realize now, after all this time, I was wrong for the way I treated you.
I miss you so much, Mom, and I‘m trying to hide my tears as I write this letter to you.
In fact, I am re-writing this letter for the third time. Twice before, one of the men confronted me right at this point in the letter.
“Ohhhh, look atch you, gettin’ all sweet an’ teary eyed. Gimme that!” Big Mike grabbed my letter. He started reading it out loud. “There’s so much I want to tell you today.”
Then he tore up my letter, laughing.
It wasn’t embarrassing or demeaning or anything like that. I’ve learned to shut off my emotions here, because there’s no place for them.
I wrote the letter again, and Big Mike did the same thing again. This time he inserted vulgar language, because he was trying to get me to react. I didn’t react. I didn’t even look at him. Finally, Big Mike got bored and left me alone, and I was able to finish this letter.
I miss you so much, Mom.
I remember when I was just a little shaver, around 6 years old. You were teaching me how to ride my bike during the summer. Finally one day you let go of my bike and I rode wobbly for a few yards and BAM! I fell down. The bike was okay, but my leg was all tore up and bleeding. I cried and I cried—like I’m doing now—but you took me in and doctored me all up.
But I’ll never forget what happened next.
We sat at that old wooden kitchen table and you brought out your favorite candy, and you shared a couple with me.
“Tommy, these aren’t just candy. These are special candy.”
“See, chocolate-covered mints have power.”
“Power? What kind of power, Momma?”
“See now… the dark chocolate on the outside makes you feel better.” You took a small bite, to demonstrate. “And the soft chewy mint nougat inside helps you breathe better, and helps your breath, too.”
“Wow, Momma. They DO taste good!”
That day you let me eat 3 mints. You gently encouraged me, “Keep trying, Tommy. You gotta keep trying. Eventually you’ll learn how to ride that old bike without my help.”
I miss you so much, Mom.
Flash forward about ten years. You were teaching me how to drive in your old black Buick Century. I could tell you were nervous, because that’s the only car we had at the time. I was driving and you were in the passenger seat. You told me to turn right and for some reason, I turned too late, and swerved the car into oncoming traffic and almost hit an old lady in a shiny new white Cadillac.
I made another mistake that day by going over the speed limit, and we were pulled over.
“Do you understand, son, why I pulled you over today?”
“No sir, what did I do?”
“I clocked you going 15 miles over the speed limit.”
“Officer, sir, my son is just learning how to drive. This is my fault. I was looking more at the route he will take to get his real driver’s license, and missed the speed limit sign.”
“Okay then. I’m going to let you go this time with just a warning. If I catch you again, it’s not gonna be pretty.”
“Yes sir.” We answered him at the same time.
That night, you reached for your favorite candy, and you were going to share some with me, just like you did so many times before. But I stopped you, and announced, “Mom, I have a treat for you.” I pulled out a quart of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.
That night you encouraged me. “Keep practicing, son. Keep driving.”
I miss you so much, Mom, but I gotta run.
p.s. Guess what? Here in the prison, I’ve been reacquainted with Jesus, just like you taught me.
INSPECTED/APPROVED for delivery 2-Feb
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