LONG ROAD HOME (11)

By Steven “Walks On The Grass” Maisenbacher
Photo by Gabriela Palai on Pexels.com
Chapter 11

Finding New Family

Well, I can’t help it, I don’t know what it is, but I have always been able to get along better with women than men, and they always seem to sense it. Some years ago I placed an ad on Write A Prisoner.com. I was at a stage where I was lonely and just wanted to meet a few ladies to correspond with, exchange ideas and views on life, spirituality and everything. So out of the blue I got a letter from a woman named Helga in Germany. Long story short, Helga fell for me and we ended up talking about a possible future together. That all fell apart with her trying to mold and bend me into the shape she thought I ought to be, not who I am. Anyway, one thing I owe Helga is a debt of gratitude for introducing me to Leontien (Leah).

Steve and sister Judy 1996

Leah and I seemed to get along and we emailed back and forth about a myriad of topics, she was interested in the Native culture and we quickly became friends. During our exchanges she found out that I had lost my sister, Judy several years prior to cancer and I missed having her in my life. Judy was a strong and remarkable woman who raised her son as a single mother, never wavering in her love or dedication to giving him all she wanted him to have. So as time went on I found out Leah had no brothers, so we decided we would adopt each other. Cool!  I now had a new sister and I feel I hit the jackpot.

What an amazingly wonderful family Leah has, her husband, Mildo, is a super cool man and a great father to their two beautiful daughters. Both the girls are extremely smart and witty. Rosa, the youngest is a gifted equestrian and for-real horse lover. She is just as full of life as her mother. Vivian, the older of the 2 is super talented with a very good voice. In fact I’d say if she were to continue and pursue a career she could easily hit the stages of Broadway or more.

I think Vivian looks more like her dad, who is very smart and I’m glad to have him as a brother-in-law.  So the girls come by their brilliance honestly and it isn’t at all surprising when I think of their parents. Now Leah, she’s the bees knees, a very warm and witty woman, full of life’s wisdoms and able to share of herself with others, unstintingly putting the needs and wants of others before herself.

I don’t think I’ve ever come right out and said it this way, but I’m finding it’s so much easier to say things more articulately in writing than in person. The fact is my sister Leontien has helped me thru some rough times when I was really hurting and down. She didn’t know at the time because I’m kind of good at holding things in, but her dedication and patience have helped make me the man I have become and that man bears no resemblance to the man  I was years ago.

I can’t wait to see Leah from the free world. It’s going to be amazing and as I sit here and write this knowing it’s just 13 months until I can walk out the door to a half-way house and after that, it’s just a matter of a few more months.

Let me tell you, when I met Leah, it had been well over a decade since my mom had passed and then my sister passed. I had not had a visitor in 13 years, and all of a sudden Leah tells me she is coming to the states to visit with family and friends. Then she tells me she’s coming to see “My brother!” So Leah came and it was the best couple of hours I had had in decades. We talked and laughed and took pictures and visited and she got to meet Frank, one of my Native brothers and band mates. To meet my sister was amazing, and in this moment, as I write, I’m thinking it’s funny that a little later today, I’m calling Leah at her home in the Netherlands – Yes! That’s six thousand miles away across the ocean and in another country, but our love and respect and family tie is stronger than even toe-distance or the time difference.

And Leah, you ought to know by now that as much as I love you and your family, don’t set your strawberry kiwi drink down on the table and walk away for any reason. Some things I just can’t control, but I’m still sticking to my story… “It must have evaporated?!?!”

Steve and Leontien 2016

A year or so later, Leah came to visit again. This time I got to spend the whole day with her, the best day of my entire sentence. We talked and I laughed with her, we were able to relax and get to know each other better. We talked about all the things that were important to us. Leah is a wonderful person, and somehow I know my sister Judy would appreciate her being there for me. I know I certainly am. Thank you for being my sister and my friend. I’m a very lucky man to have the love of two sisters in this life. There is no doubt that once again, the Creator stepped into my life with just what I needed, when I most needed it. I was lost and lonely so the Creator gave me some new family…life is good…

But now it has come to my attention that my dear sister Leontien feels like she doesn’t deserve a chapter in my book because she “Really didn’t do anything!”

Geeminy Christmas, I’m floored by this. See this is the same woman who visits death row inmates, works with the organization, Soul Sisters Unlocking Cell Doors. These women write cards and letters to inmates all over the country who may otherwise not hear from anyone. Leah has traveled around the world, multiple times to visit me and other prisoners she has befriended over the years I have had the honor and pleasure to know her.

So it’s like this, if you ever meet Leah or if you already know her, count yourself as blessed because this woman who claims she didn’t do anything has brought light and laughter to me and many others in these iron houses. She has shown empathy and understanding for those in circumstances she will never go through simply because she chooses to care for those who suffer. To me this kind of seems like considerably more than nothing. Leah has shared smiles and care and yep, even a strawberry kiwi drink with me at least.

Now, Leah, I know you will read these words, and you know how I feel about the truth being the only pure beauty in the cosmos, neither good or bad, false or contrived, simply the truth. So listen up, here it is…Sister mine, your kindness has made a huge impact in my life. You make me want to be a good man so I can make you proud of me, and that ain’t an easy thing to do! Simply put, I love ya sis, and to me, your brother who loves you for you…  

You Are A Rock Star!

HERE & WELL

Here I am
Living on memories again
It’s just that your ghost’s at hand
Whispering into my brain

And I should have known
That that’s how it had to go
And baby I loved you so
I know now that you’re gone

Chorus:
Well, it’s never so easy
As if I had just let you stay
So just be the music and words
To the songs that I play.

(Instrumental)

Don’t try selling me
Your psycho logic
It’s just not nostalgic
So let that be said

If the telephone rings
Hope eternal springs
Could it possibly be you
As if there were something that I could do
Then rest assured it would have been done.

(Instrumental)

Chorus:
Well, it’s never so easy
As if I had just let you stay
So just be the music and words
To the songs that I play.


Here & Well lyrics © Steven Maisenbacher (Walks on the Grass)

Published by Edna Peirce Dixon

I am an elder in my 9th decade. I have lived an ordinary life, I’ve done all the ordinary and expected things, went to school, got married, raised a family, tried to be a good person. Throughout this life I have also been a seeker, an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. Then in my golden years, as I sought to find meaning in my existence, some unexpected things happened and I’ve since learned it took a lifetime to prepare me for the challenge to come. My journey – indeed my calling - led me to come to know a remarkable man who happened to be an inmate in federal prison. Nothing could have been more foreign to my personal experience. GHOST DANCER Communicating daily for nearly nine years I had the opportunity to walk many paths with Ghost discussing our thoughts on many common interests with candor and respect. With enormous generosity Ghost has allowed me to share his wisdom and knowledge of his Native American heritage on Journeys of the Spirit. Over time, Ghost gradually revealed his life story in small bits, like scrambled pieces of some gigantic puzzle. Now, after spending more than 40 years in prison, Ghost Dancer is at last free and ready to tell his amazing personal story. As the saying goes, “you can’t make this stuff up” and as his friend and editor I can say this is a story so big that even after working with him for nearly nine years, I continue to be astonished as he shares new details my mind simply could never imagine. From the very first chapter, Ghost leads us on his journey and invites us to walk with him on his Nene Cate (Red Road). From the day he was born, a happy, loving gifted child, he endured heartbreaking sorrows, betrayals and exploitations. Through it all, Ghost fought a system determined to destroy him by any means, as he struggled to remain true to his calling. Through Ghost Dancer I also met and came to know Walks On The Grass, another federal prisoner whose story is also compelling even though very different. In Journeys of the Spirit, Walks has shared his decades-long journey from deep addiction to wholeness in LONG ROAD HOME and shared other bits of his story in ALONG THE WAY. Now as he approaches his August release into this crazy world of 2022 Walks shares his the thoughts and misgivings as he counts down to the big day in LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE.

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