MAYLING'S STORY ~ HOLIDAY SEASON: BITTERSWEET
I met my dad, and uncle in prison. I grew up visiting them in prison. As a little girl I knew it was not the normal, but it was my normal. I was never allowed to speak about my dad to anyone who was not family. If anyone asked I had to say he was gone. Funny how it is always during the holidays that people asked the most. My mom already had us trained in what to say. I guess that was my mom’s way of protecting us from outside judgments, and her wanting us to enjoy the holidays the best we could without feeling sorry for ourselves. My father has never missed a birthday card, or holiday card, he even sends gifts. But I never got what I always wished for, him with me, free. He’s made sure to be the best father he could from prison, and that is everything to me.
Years have passed and now my father is a grandfather. I see my kids going through the same emotions I went through as a child. Wishing their grandfather was with them for birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc. Everyday without him is hard, and worse during the holidays. This is the time of year where families are supposed to be together. Enjoying each other’s company, bothering each other, loving each other. That’s not the case for us, it’s never been the case for us. We are always missing him. There is always that void that is waiting to be filled with his physical presence.
This year has been the hardest. I almost lost my dad. This past May, my father suffered a stroke. If not for my uncle Victor, we would had never found out. I Thank God he is recovering well. The thought of how we almost didn’t have him alive this holiday season, and that he was so close to dying alone, is devastating. It’s hard, but I can’t ever lose faith. Faith that one day my father will be able to enjoy holidays with his family, and we can finally be complete.
My name is Mayling Torres, I am the daughter of Jorge Torres, and niece of Victor Torres. I have been without my father, and uncle, my entire life. I was only a few months in my mom’s tummy when they were arrested in 1987, and only a few months old when they were sentenced. Both my father, and uncle, were sentenced to life in prison without parole for a first time offense, nonviolent drug conviction. Now they’re serving their time in Fairton Correctional Institute.