Father’s Day in the Slammer… Again
By Edwin Rubis
Currently serving a 40-year federal sentence for a nonviolent marijuana conspiracy offense
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Around this time, like every other year, Father’s Day celebration will remind us about the importance and challenges of fatherhood. Families will get together, prepare meals, and distribute gifts to fathers or father figures; for their leadership, guidance, and protection; stressing the important role of fathers nurturing their children.
Not for me.
Father’s Day celebration will be just another day. Just like the past twenty-three have been. Far away from a rainbow-and-flower pot type of festivities; far away from a place where your children give you gifts and tell you how much they love you.
A Father’s day in the slammer is disheartening. The fifteen-minute phone calls hardly do justice. The letters you can mail out are few. The prison visits are unkindly painful. Year after year after year sadness has been my ‘amigo numero uno. Frustration and anger are not far behind. I’ve unseen my sons grow into young men, wishing I could’ve been there for them, to comfort them, to love them, to teach them about the rules of life.
Being a father from behind the fence is impossible – unattainable. I’ll never be the father I wanna be. The slammer robbed me of such dreams. Its powerful tentacles ensnared me as tightly as they could until my emotions felt numb… until the longing for my children became unfelt.
Decades have transpired. The 40-year sentence still stands. The barely, legible pencil-written words, “They left me among the dead and I leave a corpse in the grave, I am forgotten I am in a trap with no way of escape. Psalm 88”, I found etched on the wall of my jail cell, days into my arrest, still reverberates today; the recurring words of my three-year-old son, “Dada, Dada,” pleading and crying, “come hum, come hum,” merciless stab my heart and soul each passing Father’s Day.
I wish I knew my sons. I wish they would know their father. Nick was barely five years old, Keanu three, and Austin still in his mother’s womb, when I was thrown in the slammer, shoved into the abyss of shunned and lost souls – never to return.
This year, Father’s Day in the slammer will just be another day, with the same reminding quote: “This is no place for the living. This is a place for the dying. Dark and lonely, oppressively and emotionally numbing.”
Maybe one day I’ll come home. Maybe one day I’ll hug my sons without shackles and fetters, without prison bars – and love them as a father should. But then again, hope looks bleak. Somehow pointless. I am no longer the person I once was. For what the slammer did not devour, the sunless joy scorched, and for what the sunless joy was unable to scorch, man’s years have annihilated.
The slammer has won. Father’s Day is no longer Father’s Day for me. The mourning laughter, the deep lines on my face, the graying hair, and the scarred emotions, all testify of a life long lost, long gone, long dead … I’ll never be a father again.
Edwin Rubis is serving a 40-year sentence for a non-violent marijuana offense. You can help advocate for his release by sharing this story on social media, by writing your legislators, tweeting President Biden, and using the hashtag #freeedwinrubis
If you’d like to write to Edwin:
Edwin Rubis # 79282-079
Talladega, AL 35160