MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2008 AT 01:11AM

My father is 67 years old today. I’ve tried calling him several times to wish him happy birthday but couldn’t reach him. I then learned that the phones would be down until Wednesday. My family is prepared for these minor setbacks that come with my confinement.

I’ve been in prison for nearly seven months and during that time I’ve tried to calibrate my life and map out a long list of goals I hope to achieve during and after incarceration. One particular goal is to be a better son. Prior to my imprisonment, I rarely took the time to see my father. There was no excuse for me not arranging to have quality time with him. It was not his fault as he asked to see me nearly every day but I would make excuses that I was too busy with work, etc. I will conduct myself differently upon my release.

My father is wonderful. His love and support has never wavered and his guidance has lifted my spirit on days when I wanted to crawl under a rock. At the end of each phone call he never fails to tell me he is proud of me … and that gives me strength.

Prison offers opportunity for introspection. During the time I’ve been here I have learned to appreciate all that I took for granted. I took my father for granted and will never do that again. Prison may take a year out of my life but this time away is a reminder of how much I need my family. This discovery was not something I anticipated but I certainly appreciate it now. Although I was finally able to speak to my dad to wish him happy birthday and tell him how much I love him, it was the first time in my life I had not seen him on his special day.

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