By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
It's always a call about business, a colleague or a client — but his business isn't meth. Last year Vince and his mother started their own towing company, and times are good. Outside the diner sits their second tow truck, purchased just last week. He also bought a home, a pretty place in Westminster across the street from a school. His aunt and uncle live in the basement, so there's always someone to look after the children if they get home before Vince does. "When we moved into the house, I told my kids, this is a new beginning. We are going to start over fresh," he says. "It's been a long process. Ain't none of it has been easy."
He won't deny there's a chance of relapse, but he's optimistic: "We're on the back nine."
He's interrupted by one of his phones. This time it's a text message from Miranda: "I love U more than anything."
This is the only way Miranda can show him her love — by phone. In February, she was released with an ankle bracelet from the halfway house to live with her parents, just over a mile from the house that Vince purchased. But she's not allowed to see her husband in person. Her children stay with her Sunday and Monday when she's not working her fast-food job, but she can't see them with Vince. They can't take the kids to see a movie together; they can't sit down for dinner as a family. Miranda's parole officer says that Vince is a co-defendant in her case, that he's a felon. The couple doesn't know how long the ban will last — maybe even the rest of her three-year parole.
Miranda is blown away by what Vince has accomplished. "He's succeeding and becoming more than I ever thought he would ever be," she says. Still, it's hard to think about everything she's missed: the new business, the new house, birthdays and Mother's Day — and her kids growing up. She's torn about what the system put her through, what it did to her family. "The drug and alcohol classes, urine tests, the life-skills therapy I did, being able to take care of my kids.... Apparently something worked, or I would have fallen off the wagon long before Judge Moss considered my case," she says. "But we were dealing with two different systems. We were dealing with a child-support system and a criminal system. I had the support of my children's judge and that court system, and the other side of the court shut down everything I was working for."
But Miranda doesn't fault the judge or anyone else. "I don't blame the system," she says. "I did this to myself."
It's hard dealing with what she and her husband did to their children: the drug-fueled neglect and endangerment, the police raid, the year spent away from their parents, the visits to their mother in prison, the confusion as to why Mommy still can't come home. Despite all the help that Vince and Miranda received from social services, the children were never offered independent counseling or support. They're not damaged goods, as some folks label kids from drug homes, but recovery hasn't been easy. "It took me almost two years to convince my twelve-year-old son that all this wasn't his fault. He thought if he hadn't told the police where I was the night of the raid, everything would still be good," says Vince. "That's a hell of a barrier, to convince him, 'It's not your fault; it's my fault for being a bad parent.'"
But one day, his son finally understood that it wasn't his fault. And he realized something else. "I know my daddy isn't selling drugs anymore," he says. "My daddy's not always in his room anymore. He comes home from work and cleans the house and plays with us, and there's not a hundred different people in the house every day.
"I am proud of my daddy."