Here follows a recent missive from the Executive Director to an old friend serving out the last months of a 20 year sentence. He is bedridden for the past 10 years suffering from ALS. His family lives several states to the west. Too far and poor to visit.
His friends closer have not visited him in almost two years, because he experiences unbearable pain in the geriatrics chair the authorities insist he use in order to be taken to the visitors’ room.
But all he needs, say the medical specialists outside the prison, is a back brace.
Please pray that the authorities’ hearts be moved to pity for the man, and just prescribe him the long needed brace. It’s really a simple thing. But without it, our friend cannot receive visitors.
Even in his loneliness this prisoner prays night and day for this humble apostolate’s intentions, and therefore for you.
(Not having asked permission of the persons named herein to publish their names etc., the editor has removed those references.)
the regrettably long silence from me to you notwithstanding, I have been speaking your cares and mine to God in prayer. So you would have at least thought I might have done sooner what can only be presumed He would have me to do punctually; namely, my duty in Friendship to you in Christ.
(I am reminded, by my silliness in saying that, of the quip of Athenagoras, the late Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, who was invited to supper by a Catholic bishop. Asked why the Catholics suddenly wished to wine and dine the Orthodox ever since the Second Vatican Council, the bishop protested: “Why, the movement of the Holy Spirit, of course.”. Half-smiling the old Patriarch replied: “So, was he on vacation before the Council?”)
Now returning to my vacation from procrastination, I’ve finally taken care of a few things, as promised. (As my Mother, God rest her soul, might have said, there’s a reason for the two Ls in my surname: in other words, just in case I might be on time for a change.) At any rate, Dr. [JC – true friend] should be writing to Dr. S [the prison physician] soon.
A copy of my e-mail to him appears below. I expect Dennis [a friend of the Legion of Mary], ever reliable, will write to the Superintendent asap — but certainly sooner than I can.
Please say a little prayer for your bumbling excuse for a friend here: that the begging I am (finally) doing before the end of the year pays off. Otherwise, I won’t have even the gasoline in the tank to visit you, please God, when the time comes. I would like now also to include a little Christmas cheer in a gift for you, but that will have to wait until my back-pay for the month of November allows it.
Meanwhile, thanks for all the letters to Susie and the Children, who are always remembering you in happy conversations around this house and God’s, and always delighted to receive your touching drawings, paintings and cards.
Pax et fides,
[copy of my e-mail to Dr. [JC] sent today]
please accept my repeated thanks for speaking on October 22 about Douglas’ care in prison at Somerset, PA. I do apologize for this late follow-up, esp. for Douglas’ sake.
Pursuant to our conversation, I spoke for a second time with Dennis [H.] of the Legion of Mary in Harrisburg, PA. Dennis is also very grateful to you for offering to write to the prison to convey the specialists’ collective opinion, suggesting (or “recommending”, as you deem best) that Douglas be fitted with a back brace.
I have included the full name of Douglas’ main-care physician and his contact info, below the signatures lines, along with a sample text, by way of a reminder of our conversation.
If you prefer to send him a cc at the address I found, presumably his office, in Somerset — outside the prison, here that is: [address omitted here]. His tel. no. there is 814/ [omitted here].
If by chance you wish to phone him, keep in mind that writing establishes a record for the prison and other authorities of our charitable & humanitarian concerns for Douglas.
By the way, Dennis and I have found it almost always helpful to cc the Superintendent. I therefore include his contact info on the cc line, below the sample text. The address is the same as the one in the heading of the sample text.
Dennis or/and I shall alert Douglas to our plans, via e-mail, so he is not taken by surprise. (‘Help’ of this sort which I’ve tried to provide in the past has on occasion been used against him when I didn’t inform him first.)
Meanwhile, one of us (Denny or I) will write also to the Superintendent to let him know that the specialists, after considering the well-described conditions of the patient, have suggested he be fitted with a back brace. And that this is of utmost importance to the two of us since that appears at this time to be the only way to visit Douglas.
He could really use a visit, not only during the festive season of Our Lord’s holy Nativity, but also because Douglas is so down these days, as we notice from his letters. He mentioned worrying that he won’t make it till release next summer, remembering how many of the inmates die in the last weeks and months of their captivity.
Sincerely & gratefully yours,
Gregory P. Lloyd, M.A.
National Coalition of Clergy & Laity
621 Jordan Circle, Whitehall PA 18052-7119 USA
“Pray, hope, and don’t worry.” St. Padre Pio
[sample text of letter to prison physician]
SCI Laurel Highlands
5706 Glades Pike
P.O. Box 631
Somerset, PA 15501-0631
Dear Dr. S[…],
After consultation with three other specialists, two orthopedists and a spine surgeon, and basing our evaluation from afar on medical records and detailed descriptions of his condition which we requested, we are unanimous in our opinion that your patient, Mr. Douglas […] – [inmate no. xxxx], be fitted with a back-brace.
I have notified Mr. […] of the same in writing. Doing so should enable him to, among other things, use the geri-chair without suffering the unbearable pain he has experienced hitherto. I am told that use of the geri-chair is required for Mr. […] to receive visitors once again.
Your respectful colleague, I am confident that you will do everything possible to provide the normal care Mr. […] needs in order again to receive visitors, which after all is only the humane & right thing to do.
Please do not hesitate to call on me should you wish.
Sincerely & respectfully,
[full postal address, or letterhead]
cc: David Pitkins, Superintendent
SCI Laurel Highlands