The Ferris Family, Friends, Fun And Fayetteville, Arkansas. Travels Of The Texas Twins…
Thursday evening while packing my SUV for another road trip and planning to get new tires when I find the time, I called my brother in law, Steve Daniel to check on him. Good Friday is always emotional for Steve.
The reason for this would be that Steve “Real Fast” Daniel along with Tommy Hammill and many others would always remember the Good Friday Roadside Bombing. Easter Weekend always brings a flood of memories to my brother in law.
Every year, I attempt to give Steve something else to think about or at the very least, something to look forward to. Steve and Tommy still stay in touch as do many of the Camp Anaconda fuel tank drivers years after being “Caught In The Crossfire.”
Many of my readers have asked how and why “Steve wound up in Iraq?” The truth is that Steve had been laid off from Albertsons after twenty years and in 2003, truck driving jobs became scarce.
For those who missed my blog regarding toxic burn pits and the harrowing weekend the Texas Twins spent wondering if we would ever see Steve again, here’s the link– Steve Daniel, Camp Anaconda & The Good Friday Roadside Bombing.
My brother in law as well as many other survivors of the roadside attack suffer with PTSD and Survivors Guilt. Steve had been in Canada when I called Thursday night and was looking forward to “being home for the holiday by Good Friday.”
My Good Friday would be spent near my old lake house in Garfield, Arkansas at a Baptism in Fayetteville. The nearest city to Garfield was Fayetteville and when I think of all of the times I flew into the airport to jump in my Cadillac and drive to Beaver Lake, I am as always thankful I no longer own a vacation home. Vacation homes are a lot of work and bring all sorts of requests from “friends” wanting to “borrow” your home. The amount of work and expense involved from having a vacation home are something that I will never miss. Give me a luxury hotel any day ya all!
While Cindy and my niece, Leigh Ann headed off to Willow Lake Event Center to meet clients Friday morning with Steve home and asleep, I dashed off to send Easter flowers to four funeral homes after reviewing emails regarding no flowers for ceremonies. I’m a multitasker at all times.
For years now, I’ve donated silk floral arrangements to funeral homes. My reasons for this are based on a tragic accident that had occurred when my son’s best friend and Maid Of Honor, Melissa was killed in a car accident heading back to college from Fort Worth weeks prior to my son’s wedding.
Melissa had been in Fort Worth for a dress fitting at Davids Bridal and had spent the weekend with my son. Although Robbie had made coffee and breakfast for Melissa, he would always blame himself about the accident. My son was the last person to see Melissa alive. Her parents still celebrate her birthday every year with Melissa’s friends including my son and his wife. It’s a way of remembering her that Melissa’s parents look forward to year after year. Seeing Melissa’s friends and treasuring the memories of Melissa is important to everyone who loved her.
My son has never fully recovered from the loss. I recall Robbie calling me hysterical about Melissa. I was on location with a client and about midway through creating the centerpieces for his wedding when my focus would literally shift to creating Memorial flowers for Melissa.
Cindy and I were delivering my silk arrangements to the funeral home when the director approached us both and said “those arrangements are beautiful and we need to ask your permission for something that would help families over and over if you have find to consider our proposal.”
Intrigued and emotional about losing Melissa, I sat the two tall silk orchid arrangements I had created down and turned to him to listen. “Many families cannot afford to provide flowers. Silk can be used again and again. If you don’t mind, would it be okay to keep a few of these arrangements for our less fortunate clients who cannot afford to provide flowers for their loved ones?”
I not only agreed to donate those floral arrangements but also have continued to create and donate silk arrangements to funeral homes to ensure that every family has a beautiful memorial.
Melissa, you will forever be missed and cherished. God Bless Your beautiful soul. Checking in with my husband Saturday morning from my next booking in Reno, Oklahoma for a wedding, Matthew told me that the Ferris Home Ceremony had been emotional for him. The foreman had done a great job on the Ferris Home. Lori and the other sponsors had also worked very hard to decorate the home. It was truly a “community coming together” for the Ferris Family.
Back in November while I was at a Texas Prison with a client, Matthew had sent photos to my cell from the groundbreaking ceremony and told me about the family.
My husband like everyone else at McBee Homes were excited to be a part of Operation Finally Home. On Good Friday as Steve slept peacefully at home, my husband cried silent tears of joy as a singer sang the “Star Spangled Banner.” Matthew sent me photos from Weatherford. I wish I had been with him but, my schedule prevented it. I don’t believe anyone has ever been as thrilled to get keys to their new home as the Ferris family was. The Ferris family will be surrounded by a community of love in Parker County-Operation Finally Home The Ferris Family Moves In.
Cindy and Leigh Ann were coloring Easter eggs with Maryssa and Makenna while my youngest grandniece, Maddy happily played with her Easter basket and the boxes of candy and eggs Cindy and I were donating to families in the Parker, Palo Pinto and Erath County areas back in Weatherford, Texas.
Cindy and Leigh Ann would also deliver the turkeys and hams that Cindy I had bought at Walmart Friday evening while I was “on the road.” Every year, our children and grandchildren look forward to food deliveries for needy families. Many of these families were Pawning Planners Clients.
I recall the Bowman Family and weekly food deliveries with Cindy to them most of all. We had married Rebecca and Christy in Parker County and last year, Rebecca and Christy took in five children who would have been placed in foster care had they not opened their home.
The additional expense of having more children caused a real hardship on the family and to overcome the expense of groceries, Cindy and I made weekly trips to the Bowman Home and delivered food ourselves. Rebecca and Christy are lifelong friends of the Texas Twins.
This morning while preparing to leave my hotel in Shreveport to head to my only booking today, this Baptism has me a little emotional myself. I’ve talked to the Godparents and parents many times throughout the pregnancy of this miracle child. This will be a joyous and emotional celebration for all families concerned.
I will never forget the Baptism and subsequent Memorial for Baby Delilah. Each and every time I hold a child in my arms now, I think about the baby that I had expected to live. I remember crying tears that accidentally fell upon Delilah’s tiny face. Last December, my team and I met with Burt and Deanna for a family photo shoot in Weatherford, Texas.
It’s rare for me to be behind the camera acting as a director at the same time but, it happens. Location Photography often requires me to multitask. Normally though, I’m in front of a camera and often wearing a microphone that I cover when talking to Cindy or someone on my staff.
Cindy and I have learned over the years to “cover up the Mike.” Nothing is “PRIVATE” or “off limits” between my twin and I. On road trips or on location, Cindy and I have conversations that run from discussions about our children and grandchildren to rental or vendor issues to even what we are doing at the event following the one we are on location at.
I often use the descriptive reference “juggling too many balls” because it appropriately fits Cindy and I in most situations. Neither of us have a “set job description.” Our “jobs” cover a wide array of responsibilities.
Like Steve, the memories of something you never expected to happen come flooding back. I decide to call my husband and see how his home cooking is going to take my mind off baby Delilah and focus on the family that will soon be standing in front of me.
My husband is now thrilled that Saturday morning the “Stinky Skunk Development In Springtown” finally took a turn for the better last week.
After weeks of trying everything, Wednesday evening, Matthew had suggested removing the wall by the master bath after removing the tub didn’t help solve the “stinky problem.” I suggested removing all of the bathroom walls.
This skunk situation might have been prevented in my husband had jumped in sooner but, our foreman was completely unfamiliar with a skunk dying in a house during the building process. By the time Matthew “took over skunk house,” the dead skunk had been under the bathtub for about two weeks. It was two weeks too long.
The homeowner is returning from Japan the first week of May and we are literally running out of time.
Matthew sent had me photos of the tub before removing it. The tile, the walls, the paint and everything would need to be scraped and replaced. Even the wood would be replaced. About ten days ago, my husband had the painters spray Killz on all of the walls and under the tub. Apparently, the paint absorbed and sealed the smell. Because of this, stripping the paint before replacing the tub, walls, wood and finally stripping the tile flooring would be the only way to correct the smell. This skunk situation is one for the books ya all.
The skunk house and the skunk problem have given my husband too many sleepless nights.
I’ve tried to think of everything as has he because a “stinky skunk problem” is something my husband has never encountered.
The number of meetings my husband has had with his builders is surprising but, every idea suggested was considered. Tearing out the bathroom was the only way to get to the “bottom of the stinky situation.” With Matthew telling me about the “tear down and tear out” process at skunk house on Friday, I was hoping he wouldn’t return to “skunk house” over the weekend but, he did Saturday morning.
Matthew had sent photos of the crews “on the job” and was hopeful that his latest idea would solve the problem. I was apprehensive. What if this didn’t work? We now had less than two weeks to solve the skunk house problem. Ugh.
Skunk house has been the topic of every dinner conversation for nearly a month now. But, apparently, drastic measures had finally made headway. I am certain the crews will be as relieved as Matthew when the skunk house owner happily moved in. By Saturday, my husband excitedly told me “scraping the paint and replacing everything is working. I used your bleach to soak the concrete on Wednesday and Thursday. We are going to have the floors cleaned and I think this time I’ve solved the problem at skunk house.”
I don’t know who was now relieved that my husband could finally sleep all night without googling more ineffective skunk solving problems me or Matthew?
My Beto Bride had left her marriage license in our mailbox which surprised Matthew but, I told him to put it in my office as it’s not that unusual for a client to give me their license early to bring to the ceremony.
I’m at Coffield, Beto, Green Bay and Tarrant County this week as well as Botanic Gardens, Mercado Event Center and Bell Tower. My Destination bookings in California for September and October now include August. Maryssa and Makenna are thrilled about spending their summer holiday traveling with Cindy, Leigh Ann and I while I wearily prepare to bounce here, there and everywhere yet again this summer.
Sadly, one of my seven Beto Brides encountered distressing news while I was on location at the T&P last Saturday when she went to visit her fiancée. Luckily, I was talking to the caterer and therefore available by cell when “the call came in.”
The “visitation issue” has come up before, I will go over TDCJ Rules regarding previous employees marrying an inmate. My Beto client had previously worked for TDCJ as a guard but, was no longer employed by TDCJ. She was also on the visitation list and effectively shocked to learn that she had been placed on visitation prior to being removed. After driving several hours to go visit, being told you can’t go to a visit with your four year old son is surprising and emotionally upsetting to anyone.
I had quickly walked away from the ice sculptures and caterers to speak privately to my client regarding filing an appeal while having my secretary research visitation rules. It’s impossible to marry an inmate if you are NOT an Approved Visitor.
Taneisha’s fiancée had sent his hand written vows to my office in preparation for the upcoming wedding and I was as disappointed as my client about her long drive home. I suggested pulling her car over in order to give me a few minutes to review the Rules.
While Taneisha waited, I quickly scanned through the regulations thinking of Misty my previous client who was also a guard at Bridgeport and had married an inmate at Sanders Estes Unit. What I discovered though regarding current and former employees of TDCJ wouldn’t be good news for Taneisha.
Misty had been my very first TDCJ Client. It’s hard to recall the many Units in the many states that I’ve been in since then.
Misty and her son had joined me at an Easter Event last year. My niece, Makenna had dressed up as the Easter bunny for a child with brain cancer who had never seen the Easter bunny.
Makenna and Maryssa have also dressed as Princess Characters to visit patients at Cooks Children’s Hospital and birthday parties. The twins love entertaining children.
Misty will always be a ray of sunshine and one of my favorite clients. Misty found me after trying to find an Officiant to marry her at Sanders Estes Unit. I have so many memories of so many people and places. The joys, the sorrows, the triumphs of inmates released and married again at a Vow Renewal with my Team and I while their friends and families watched with tears in their eyes.
I’ve been everywhere. I’ve also had to soothe many brides who didn’t anticipate any issues during the planning process of their wedding.
Last Saturday, I was about to deliver bad news to my beautiful bride Taneisha as my other client happily posed for photos surrounded by elegance at the train station.
The differences between my clients and their circumstances are never lost on me.
While one client was crying in Tennessee Colony, another client was joyously celebrating her wedding. Life isn’t fair. I would refund Taneisha immediately and help her plan her June Wedding.
I would also make Taneisha just as happy as my blushing bride was in Fort Worth upon the release of her fiancée and I would make things right. I always do. Some situations though require more time.
For my other Prison Wedding Clients who may be unaware of the waiting period for previous TDCJ Employees, I’m adding the information here:
“Current/Former TDCJ Employee Visits”
Current/former employees may be included on an offender’s Visitors List if the following conditions exist:
● The relationship between the offender and the current/former employee or between the current/former employee’s spouse and offender was established prior to the offender’s incarceration;
●. The current/former employee reported the relationship to Agency officials in accordance with PD-22, “General Rules of Conduct and Disciplinary Action Guidelines for Employees”; and
● The current/former employee is an immediate family member. If a former employee does not meet all of the above three (3) criteria, the former employee shall not be allowed to visit for 24 months after the employee’sdate of separation from employment with the Agency.
After expiration of the 24-month time period, the former employee may be reviewed for visitation privileges by the DRC. The offender must submit RO-1, Request for Placement on Visitors List and RO-2, Visitation Approval Form-Current/Former TDCJ Employee to request that the former employee be added. Documented security concerns (e.g., the former employee delivered or attempted to deliver contraband to the offender while still an employee or had an inappropriate relationship with the offender while employed) may cause disapproval of the request.
If the former employee is approved, the visitor may be added to the list immediately, even if the offender is not eligible for a Visitors List change.
Any offender requesting to add a current/former employee shall submit new RO-1, Request for Placement on Visitors List and RO-2, Visitation Approval Form – Current/Former TDCJ Employee to the unit Records Office.
Those current/former employees falling within the criteria established above shall be reviewed by the Warden. Appropriate documentation and computer coding shall be completed on the unit.
Those individuals not meeting the established guidelines may be reviewed (after the 24-month time period) by the Warden and sent for consideration to the DRC.
There shall be no initial reviews of individuals who do not meet the three (3) criteria or the 24-month time period. Any approvals for visitation after the 24-month time period shall be made on an individual basis by the DRC.
Offenders shall be notified of approval or denial of these submissions. Offenders may use the Offender Grievance Procedures or the DRC to appeal any denial. Anyone removed from a Visitors List may appeal through the DRC.”
Taneisha filed an Appeal last Saturday after speaking to me but, the Appeal would later be Denied based on previous employment with TDCJ and the waiting period. I’m instead going to marry Taneisha in June upon release of her fiancée and I’m sending his handwritten vows back to the Unit. It’s very distressing to be planning a wedding or driving from Houston for a visit to be turned away but, my Team and I will make Taneisha’s wedding a celebration of freedom, joy and resilience.
For my other readers and followers, If you have been removed from an offender’s Visitors List, you can submit a written appeal to the Director’s Review Committee (DRC), P.O. Box 99, Huntsville, TX 77342.
The appeal must be submitted within 14 days of the date on the written notice of removal from the unit.
Updates on Texas Twins Treasures Inventory:
Our best selling bling bouquet is currently sold out and won’t be restocked until July this year. Please be aware of back order status.Our pink multi will be available in purple and real multi in October. Restocks and special orders are running into summer and winter months.
Please allow 10-12 weeks in season for custom floral orders and 8-10 weeks off season.
I’m off to the church for a Baptism and looking forward to making it home just in time for a holiday meal with my husband and family and pray that your holiday is filled with love, promise and joy…