Early in my life I made some boneheaded decisions. As they say, I ran from pillar to post and back again. Failing really meant little to me then and sometimes now. What mattered to me was MOVEMENT. While living in the moment I impregnated Barbara, also known as Angel. She gave birth to our lovely daughter Shapheka. I still hold that memory of taking my ennui berated self to the hospital and holding her small squirming body in my huge hands. She instantly felt right in my very wrong world. I walked away after looking at Angel. The girl was a mess and rightfully so, she had just given birth to our child. Before leaving she asked a question that left a glaring memory: ‘You still don’t think she is yours?’ The words still burn in my memory. I went on being a selfish individual. Some things happened, I felt disrespected but that’s how a cheating man thinks. I can do what I want to do but you better not. In all actuality, Angel was following my lead and I hated it. I’m talking about this because I was neglecting my daughter. As I ran around doing ‘ME’, I stumbled across Shapheka. I once saw her seated with her aunt, precious and I asked my shy baby: ‘Do you want to go to McDonald’s with your daddy?’ She looked at me, smiled and said a resounding ‘No’. I smiled and walked away. It was not about being hurt, it had everything to do with Shapheka sensing danger. My eyes were blood red from all the weed I smoked, I am certain my breath reeked of liquor. She had enough sense to NOT get inside that car with me driving, and she was just a baby.
The last glaring moment that I have seen our child was the day I was found guilty. I had one day of freedom before sentencing. I went where I always go to the Dog House, a local café that all the drug dealers and users frequent. Since so many people come out there, it was not uncommon to see G.G. Angel’s mother, Angel and my baby Shapheka seated in the backseat. All I spotted through the windows were her big doe eyes. I rushed out to the burgundy minivan and stopped the vehicle like a patrol officer. I rushed around to the side of the minivan and opened the door. This time my baby LEAPED in my arms. My child was clean and dolled up, her small petite dress and sandals were just perfect. Her smile was so very genuine. I had no idea that I was holding the keys to my freedom in my arms.
Before I left for prison, Angel barked at me: ‘She’s the one you’ll run to first, she’ll be the one that helps you the most!’. Her words echoed my mother’s words that she told my stepfather about me: ‘He’s the only one who’s helping you and you treat Derrick like shit. He’ll be the one to help you the most’.
In a weird way, Angel and my mother seemed like prophets because both their words came to pass. My child had to rebuild her own life before she could help me or anyone else with anything. Allow me to explain. She went to ‘juvi’ for around 5 years. There she had to rebuild herself, she endured the hardships of prison life and a life without family to a certain degree. Once it was time for her release, she reached out to my family only to be lied to and treated horribly. She would eventually go to a halfway house and go from there. She had some rough moments but she made it. Now, an adult with three kids of her own she still has found a way to be a blessing for me, her mother, her sisters and brothers. She is my ROCK to a certain degree, I am hers.
It is amazing to see my child show compassion and zeal about my freedom. As she carries her three young children she’s carrying me. Her desire is to free her dad, nothing else. She’s doing time with me. Accepting calls, sending money, calling lawyers, investigators, expert witnesses, having interviews, getting exhausted but never giving up. She’s a fighter just like I am and I love my baby. For those reasons I thank God for giving Angel and I such a wonderful daughter.
Shapheka, you are my wonderful baby. You will always be my baby no matter how old you get! I love you.
Derrick L. Griffin, 05-09-2021