On Mother's Day 2006, Markie Nixon didn't get a hug or a kiss from her only son.
Instead, the Evans woman visited with him through a pane of glass at the Columbia County Detention Center during his 30 minutes of weekly visitation.
"I got this Mother's Day card two or three days before Mother's Day," Nixon said. "I just got so emotional because it was from his heart. It meant more than anything."
At the time, Nixon's son, William Stulb, was serving a one-year sentence at the detention center. In September 2005, a jury convicted Stulb of statutory rape for a 2003 incident in which he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl. Stulb, now 22, was 18 at the time of the incident.
Sundays were Stulb's visitation day, which meant his Mother's Day observance lasted 30 minutes and took place in a visitation room at the jail.
While Stulb is now free, nearly 200 inmates are spending this Mother's Day in the Columbia County Detention Center, and only a few will be allowed visits from mothers or children today.
Columbia County sheriff's Capt Brett Carani, who oversees the detention center, said that inmates are allowed to make collect calls from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and may receive 30 minutes of visitation per week on assigned days.
Conversations during visitation take place through a pane of glass via telephone, Carani said.
That was enough for Nixon.
"I was very thankful I was able to go," she said.
Stulb was released from the jail on Dec. 8, about three weeks before the end of his sentence. He said this Mother's Day is more special because his attitude changed during his time in jail.
"I was very selfish then. A lot of change in my heart was selfishness to giving," Stulb said. "We always were family oriented, but my heart was never there. I was there because that's what we did."
During his time in jail, Stulb said he rediscovered his faith.
He said he kept positive because of the strong support he received, including calls and visits from friends, his mentor, Randy Hatcher, and family, including his father, Dudley Stulb.
"I talked to him every single day," Nixon said, adding she only missed speaking with her son two or three days during his near year in the detention center. "You only get 15 minutes on the phone and then you are clicked off. Then my heart would just bleed, when I knew I couldn't call him back.
"That's what got me through the day is that phone call."
Nixon agrees that her son left the detention center a different person compared to the self-involved, party boy who went in.
"It saved my life," Stulb said of the jail time. "Somehow, some way, it did."
Stulb soon became a trustee, performing maintenance tasks around the property, and began helping other inmates by asking his mother to bring them T-shirts, socks or whatever else they needed.
As part of his sentence, Stulb was required to perform community service, which he did by speaking to teens as part of Magistrate Judge J. Wade Padgett's Teen Years 101 seminar.
"He said, "Mom, I'm doing this because if I can help one person, I have accomplished my mission,'" Nixon said. "... And I was so proud of him. I am so proud of him."
During Stulb's incarceration, Nixon said she missed her son so much, she'd drive to the jail and stare at his window.
"That's motherly love," Stulb said.
Nixon said her son's incarceration has made her a stronger person.
She said she knows his situation could have been much worse.
"It has taught me not to worry about the things you can't do anything about, that are out of your control," she said.
Today, Nixon said she is excited to have her son home. Stulb is attending Georgia Military College and will be attending Augusta State University in the fall to study business management.
"Our family has come together," Nixon said. "That is what family is all about. That's what Mother's Day is all about ... I feel like our family is whole now."
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