Mothers in Prison Interview - Brenda Olive
Brenda Olive Interview
It was on my mother's birthday which was November the 10th. They put my husband in the hospital and I took Deana the same day for a check up and they put her in the hospital. So, he told me to tell Deana that they would race this season to see who would get out first. Well, he died November 26th which that year was the day I had Thanksgiving and so Deana was still in the hospital. So, I really didn't want her to know that he died. So, I asked the nurse to put a note on her door the same night, so they called me and they told I needed to come up and tell her because someone was going to. So, I went in to the hospital and I told her that her father had died. And the only thing she asked me, she knew he was in intensive care and on a machine. So, the only thing she asked me was did I turn the machine off? And I told her, "No". So, she was all right with that. And so during the time they said there was nothing else they could do for her. So, she had decided that she wanted to come home. So, she came home the day of his funeral because there was nothing else they could do for her. And we were going through that. Everything because when she wanted to come home, that means she needed care. So, I had to make a decision. Do I tell her, "No, she can't come home because I have to work"? Or do I take a leave of absence and give her what her last thing is she wants and that's to come home? So, I decided to let her come home.
Yolanda was like 15 and Rotino was about, at this time Rotino was about nine (9), I guess or ten (10) and Patrick was about six (6) and so I brought her home and she had wanted for Christmas an Atari. That was the game at that time and some skates and of course, not working, I didn't have money and all. A friend of mine and he gave the money to get it. So, she got her skates and her Atari for her last Christmas. She never was strong enough to put on the skates. She never put them on but she had the Atari. The night she died I had left to go to the store to get something and they had got her up. She wanted to play Atari. So, they got her up and she was crying and they said, she told them, "You can put me back in mama's bed. Now, I'm dying. I'm going to die." On my way home I met an ambulance and I knew it was going to my house and it was. I followed the ambulance to Childrens' Hospital and they pronounced her dead.
He died the day after Thanksgiving and she died four (4) days after Christmas.
Everything was kind of getting behind financially and all the kids are like really, you know, you know, devastated, kind of going through life. I was about to lost the house and the friend that had given me the money to get Deana's Christmas present came through and said, "Well, I can give you this to do that and you can save your house. And at this point I was like, okay, you know. And it was just a bad decision I made but I didn't have any family. Anybody that I could say, "Help, I need help". You know and I didn't know anywhere to go to get any kind of help and so I did it. Because the choice I made I was more and more problems, you know, in my life. I only did it for a little while but still I got caught and I went to prison. So, I still didn't have anybody to depend on. And so the children, a friend of mine stepped in and said she would keep them because none of sisters, brothers, mother or no body had seen it. You know, and with that I was only gone seven (7) months and nine (9) days.
A lot of stuff that my children went through I never found out until years later when Patrick started getting in trouble and we were going for counseling and stuff and then a lot of stuff came out that had happened in the seven (7) months that I was gone that I couldn't imagine.
They were abused sexually and mentally and other things, you know, by the people that came in. So, that's what made me get interested in working with family and children of incarcerated people because I know what mine went through in the little seven (7) months. So, you can imagine kids, both parents are gone for years and in my support group, in talking with a lot of people, sexual abuse has really come up among young children whose parents and mothers have gone.
I served my time in Pine Bluff, at that time at the women's unit. And it was quite different at that time. The women unit or that unit that's in Pine Bluff is not women now but it has no bars unless you go to the hole or, you know. At that time women wore their regular clothes in prison. We didn't have uniforms and it was just totally different from how the system is now.
It gave me time to regroup and get my head on straight. So, my prison time, to me was a time that I had to try to focus on going forth. And I think that that is what has helped me to endure the many storms that I have been through because I have been through, you know, people that have heard parables that in the Bible, I feel like I've been through almost all of them, you know, and from Job, and losing the child, the husband and finally after trying to save the house, I lost it to fire. So, I lost everything, you know. I don't even have pictures and stuff of my children growing up. But I look around and I'm still holding on and that's what has kept me going, you know, through all of these many storms that I've been through.
He's the youngest of my four (4) children. He went through auto theft. He went through robbery charges and he said, it just go to a point and a lot of the things that it just, he said, I know this made him feel like he was something when he could take, you know, it from somebody.
It's kind of like having his dad over again really because a lot of things that his dad used to do as a little child he did but he's more introverted than his daddy was. This one is quiet and kind of shy at this point and, but he plays a lot with toys or he plays a lot with his pens and pencils and he doesn't go outside and he don't really do the friend thing.
Well, when the ice storm came and we were laying here in the dark and me and him talking he'll say, "I've got me a daddy. He's in prison but I've got me one."