When Jake was four years old, his life turned upside-down. One morning he woke up to his mother saying, "Your daddy does not live here anymore." At the time, she was pregnant, and they needed money. Suddenly Jake was the man of the house, and he never saw his real dad again. His mother remarried, but it wasn't the same. The damage had been done, and Jake's path to destruction began.
As he grows, he tries to ﬁll the emptiness of abandonment with drugs, violence, and troubled relationships. Of course his eﬀorts failed, which only pushed him further toward a life of crime. Eventually, Jake goes too far, and he ends up behind bars. He has hit rock bottom, and there is no hope for recovery or redemption. But then he meets someone who changes all that and tells him about someone who is willing to forgive.
Shackled yet Free is a perilous journey into the life of a man who faces obstacles from the get-go. Unable to recover from the pain of his past, his life is almost ruined until he ﬁnds God. Jake never knew there was someone who would love him unconditionally and heal old wounds. No longer imprisoned by previous pain, Jake might be able to get his life back and ﬁnd love, family, and absolution.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.48(d)|
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SHACKLED YET FREE
By Dennis A. McIntyre
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Dennis A. McIntyre
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLegal Proceedings
The courthouse was unusually quiet that March afternoon. Although the orange blossoms were in full bloom, there was little evidence of pollen on the steps or inside the atrium area. The sunlight made the marble walls glisten, and the floors appeared clean enough to eat on. If cleanliness was truly next to godliness, then the court system appeared with a heavenly glow. I felt as though I should remove my shoes.
I was often called in to provide background and character information for clients called for judicial reviews or hearings. My job as a parole officer kept a watchful eye on those under my charge. I knew Jake for over twenty years. His past was filled with misdemeanors, drugs, alcohol, larceny, and rebellion against authority. Yet, as I watched him interact with his wife and children in the corner of the large waiting area outside the courtroom, I could see a man at peace. His face was clean-shaven, unlike the rough exterior that I have been used to. He was wearing a suit, which was in sharp contrast to the much worn jeans and uncollared shirt worn in his plumbing trade. Jake could pass himself off as a minister today. It was a startling change to be sure from the man I knew, one that brought a warm smile to my face.
Jake was a man who welcomed a brawl. The ball and chain tattoo on his ankle was a constant reminder of his incarceration in a Federal prison for grand theft nearly fifteen years ago. His physical appearance included multiple battle scars. Although his hair was beginning to recede, it was thick and full without gray. I could only imagine that if his head was shaved, we might witness a roadmap of additional battle wounds. Then again, we might read it as a treasure map with "X" marking the spot where Jake became a changed man. I feel privileged to have seen the transformation.
As I watched Jake interact with his children, I was reminded about the background information that I accumulated as his parole officer. Some of it came from Jake himself during long one-on-one sessions with him as a teenager. He was now in his mid thirties. Parents, relatives, neighbors, teachers, and other acquaintances helped to fill in the blanks. His childhood was filled with setbacks. Although he was born in a small rural town in Indiana, circumstances did not create the euphoric view of Mayberry, USA.
Jake's earliest recollection of his childhood was when he was about four years old. He remembers his dad leaving one day and never coming back. Initially, it was not unusual. His father would leave before Jake would get out of bed to go to work. Jake was too young to remember what his dad did for a living. His mother was pregnant at the time and did not work. Jake's father was rarely home with a busy work schedule. Because of that, there was little interaction between Jake and his dad. On the day his father left, mom sat Jake down on the bed and began a conversation that made little sense at the time.
She began by saying, "Jake, your daddy does not live here anymore."
"What do you mean mommy?"
"Daddy does not love your mommy anymore."
"Mommy, he could sleep in my room."
"Daddy has found someone else to live with, son." His mother tried to console Jake without causing further distress.
"But mommy, doesn't daddy love me anymore?"
Jake's mother held back the tears and tried fervently to assure her son that his father still loved him. The weeks, months, and years that followed only served to convince Jake otherwise. The concept of love for Jake was distorted early in his life. What is love? How is it measured? Love for Jake was not a verb, which implies action. His father was there one moment and gone the next. Watching other boys playing catch with their dads would certainly have been a new experience for Jake, as spending time alone with his father was limited to some form of chastisement. The words, "Doesn't daddy love me anymore?" penetrated his mom's heart with deep conviction. Perhaps, she wondered if the father of her child had ever loved their son. In that moment of reflection, her tears streamed down her face and one four-year old boy watched with a sense of fear that he might lose a mother as well. Dad's leaving had a profound and lasting effect on Jake throughout his entire life.
A father's love is a very important commodity, especially during the first five years of a boy's life. Jake had a father but was void of any meaningful relationship. He did not witness any emotional connection with his parents. He understood scolding as the only form of love shown by his father. Mom provided a milder form of council. Any concept of love would have been watered down. Jake was five years old physically, but emotionally still in infancy. We may grow physically and take on all the attributes of manhood, but stymied emotional growth will rear its ugly head in adulthood. That appeared to be the case for Jake. The emotions he learned were bitterness and hate. The only form of love he would learn during his impressionable early years came from those he hung with. Many of those also came from broken homes.
His father did not leave mom for another woman. He left for a new life with a man. In the seventies this relationship was not openly discussed and carried with it the scar of abandonment. Just like that, dad was out of Jake's life for good. Mom had to find work and a new place to live. Jake was now the man of the house. The loss of a father in Jake's life may not have brought on outward indicators in Jake's demeanor, but it had a profound impact in his life. His fatherless years had few boundaries. In short, Jake became a spoiled brat. If an occasional spanking was the only love Jake ever received from his dad, then even that was gone.
Jake was five when his sister was born. Now they were a family of three. Jake was the big brother, but mom was busy trying to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. Dad left suddenly and completely. There was no alimony or child support money to help offset expenses. Jake was in a survival mode at an early age. Today, he is facing a new form of survival. The custody hearing is moments away, and the welfare of his much-loved teenage daughters hangs in the balance. Looking across the foyer, I can see lines of worry on his face. His third wife of eight years is gently caressing him as if to say that everything will be all right. This quick-tempered man looks beaten. Yet, I sense an amazing calmness in his spirit, as if everything will be all right.
Jake's adopted children are playfully seeking his attention. They are from his wife's first marriage, which ended in a brutal divorce. Her ex-husband left for another woman and wanted nothing to do with his children. Jake was the father they never had, and it showed. The playful teasing and genuine laughter would warm the hearts of anyone near them. Jake was not the same man I knew during his years of incarceration and probation. He understands what it means to be loved and how to love in return. The burning anger that I saw within Jake has been replaced with a calm serenity. He has learned fatherhood from his relationship with his heavenly father, and it shows.
The waiting area is unusually quiet this day. It is nearly four in the afternoon. The courtroom activity this morning was frenzy. Most of the cases were over or dismissed, but a few remained in session. We've been waiting for over an hour, which was expected. Court cases were not like doctor visits, where some degree of measurable timeframe was associated with each procedure. The courts did the best they could to schedule cases, and Jake's was considered to be one that could be handled late in the day. The feeling, however, was that it may be further delayed to another date if the present case is not concluded soon. The agony of waiting and the uncertainty of the outcome may be taking its toll on Jake.
The wait is also causing anxious moments for me. My testimony may not help Jake's cause. I can only anticipate the questions that will be asked of me. If this was a jury trial, then there might be those who see past the dark side of this man. But, this custody case goes before a judge and the ex-wife is a police officer. Her life may appear saintly in comparison. Over the last eight years I have witnessed a changed man. I can only hope that the judge bases his or her decisions on Jake's character as of today, for the one who answered to me during his probation years was suspect at best.
Waiting to be called into the courtroom has created some anxiety for me, but Jake appears so calm. Lisa, his wife, is gently tapping her husband on his shoulder as if to say that whatever happens, everything will be okay. It seems to be working. This was not the Jake I knew during his parole years. The fire inside the man I knew was no longer burning with rage. He had found peace. Joy is a new fruit, which is obvious as he wrestles gently with his nine-year-old son. I smiled, warmly, as I was blessed by the transformation from the man of turmoil to the man of peace.
For years I have tried to give council to Jake on a regular basis, and now wish that I could receive it from him. He has found his answers to the burning questions about what love is. He has become the kind of father that he could only wish that he had while growing up. He acts with such gentleness towards his family. His rough looking exterior might cause a stranger to turn away, yet I see those passing by taking the time to say hello and offer casual conversation. There is something very appealing about Jake today. The acquaintances, who knew him as I did, had a totally different reaction, beginning with fear. Jake was the man they wanted on their side in an alley brawl. The transformation is amazing and fills this parole officer's heart with great satisfaction, yet I take no credit for it. My name is Officer Patterson.
This is Jake's story. I am excited to share it, as he has had a huge impact on my life. Let me take you back to his early years as he described them to me. God got a hold of a troubled boy and worked a miracle.
The Step Dad
Jake was six years old when a new man came into his life. After his father left, Jake and his mom moved to a small apartment upstairs in a Cape Cod home. Another family rented the lower two-bedroom apartment. The roof was steep, leaving a narrow center area where people can walk without ducking their heads, except for a couple of dormer areas with windows to the front yard. The outside walls were four-foot high, but more than adequate for Jake to freely run around. Furniture was pretty sparse, so the apartment appeared larger inside than it really was. When Jake's sister was born, the walls may have felt like they were closing in, but it was now home.
The Randolph's, Joan, Bob and their son Jimmy were living in the downstairs apartment. The boys became friends almost immediately, as did the mothers. Jake's mother openly shared her life story with Joan. The discussion around locating someone to watch her children so she could earn a living was quickly resolved. Joan offered to provide a safe haven for Jake and his sister, while mom worked as a waitress a few blocks away. Jimmy was about Jake's age and Joan adored children, so the idea seemed to be a natural fit. Joan also had a loving spirit and saw the opportunity to help a family in need.
Jake experienced a new form of love and witnessed family life different from anything he had seen or felt before. Her husband, Bob, also loved children and eagerly supported his wife as a caregiver. Often, he would come home and help before Jake's mom finished work. This may well have been an unusual scene for Jake as his father was almost never home before he went to bed. One can only wonder if this caring family was placed in Jake's life for that exact purpose. Somehow, Jake's mom had secured a place to stay without an income, directly above a family that offered the support she needed to move on with her life.
The home had a center entrance and twelve steps rose sharply upward to the apartment. These steps were well worn and not very attractive. Jake could always tell when company was coming as each step had a familiar creaking sound. The house also had a full basement, where the owner offered storage space for the extra non-essential living items. A box of used paint cans was among the stored items.
The basement became a welcomed escape from the small apartment for Jake and the boy living downstairs. War games were often played and Jake considered opening the small can of bright red paint to use as blood. The idea may have held much higher consequences, however, when mom found paint-smeared clothes. The box of partially used paint cans was still an attraction. The idea of creating a masterpiece may not have been on Jake's mind, but he thought about those ugly steps leading upstairs to the apartment. "A good coat of paint is just the right thing," Jake thought. Inside the box were several old paintbrushes as well. Jake decided to tackle the task of painting the steps. "Painting each step a different color should do the trick." His intentions may have been honorable, but after mom came home that evening, the pride on Jake's face was immediately wiped away. The conversation, as Jake told me, went something like this:
"J.D. come down here right now."
Whenever his mother shouted his initials, Jake knew it was important.
"Are you surprised, mom?"
"Who painted these steps?" (Each step was painted a different color and the quality was more like a five year old trying to color inside the lines.)
"I did, mom. Doesn't it look great?"
"Who told you to paint the steps?"
"You said that they needed paintin, mama. I was playing in the basement and found the old paint cans."
By this time Jake started down the stairs towards his mother. His shirt was spackled with the different colors along with his new pants. The multi-colored staircase may have looked like a work of art to Jake, but not to his mother.
"Mr. Benson (the landlord) is going to have a fit. Your clothes are ruined, and I can't afford to buy new ones."
"I thought you would be happy, mommy."
"You are grounded for a week young man."
"But mama ..."
"Don't you sass me or you will get your bottom sore as well.
A good spanking might serve you well anyway."
Jake never forgot the event. Somehow, it had etched a permanent spot in his memory as a defining moment in his life. When Jake shared that story with me years later, I could see resentment in his face. It may have been the first time that he tried to do something nice for his mother, and it exploded in his face. It would help shape his character and esteem for a long time. Perhaps, the only way it would have been more catastrophic is if his father witnessed the stairway. His father's reaction would have affected much more than Jake's character.
Mom would have gentlemen callers on a regular basis come to their apartment. Each time, Jake would be sent to his room prior to their arrival. Jake didn't mind, however, because he had a small television and plenty of snack food, which he confiscated from the pantry in anticipation. Besides, he didn't really care to meet any man who might take over as his father. Memories of his dad walking out were still quite vivid, and despite the moments of rebuke from his mom, Jake was enjoying his spoiled life.
Joe was an army sergeant. He would come over quite regularly, so Jake's small bedroom became his sanctuary. Jake often heard Joe's deep strong voice through the bedroom walls and compensated by turning the television volume up. This move created an escalating series of events, leading to undesired results.
"Turn that TV down, Jake."
"I will when you stop talking so loud out there."
"Don't talk to your mom like that Jake," Joe added.
"I can talk to my mama anyway I want. You're not my dad."
"You need to learn respect young man, and I am just the one to teach you."
Jake turned the television volume up to the maximum as if to shut out the sound of Joe's voice. A brief moment of silence and then the bedroom door flew open. Joe stormed in as if he was about to reprimand one of his platoon men for insurrection. Without hesitation, Jake received the wrath of Joe's anger. Mom watched with approval.
Excerpted from SHACKLED YET FREE by Dennis A. McIntyre Copyright © 2011 by Dennis A. McIntyre. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
The Step Dad....................7
Back to the Mainland....................21
The Preteen Years....................37
The Teenage Years....................47
The Bars Open....................93
Marriage Number Two....................135
A New Relationship....................139
Faith at Work....................145
A New Twist....................153
The Doors Open....................175
Jake's Story is Told....................189