“I am going to my first Mardi Gras in thirty years. I was in Korea, Japan, around the country. Every now and then I would come back to see mama, but when she got up in age people were leaving her, so I came back to take care of her. I look just like her. I call her every morning at 8:00 to make sure she is alright. She is 86. I learned everything from my mama, how to cook and stay out of trouble.
I left Mobile when mama sent me downtown to pay a light bill. I lived on Royal Street and saw the flag that said come on in and join the Army, so I went in and joined. They shipped me out that day. I never did pay the light bill. I called her six months later from Korea. She said, “Where the hell are you? You didn’t pay my light bill. What the hell are you doing in Korea?”
I didn’t graduate from high school and she told me if I went back she would go with me. We both graduated and got our diploma together. She made As and Bs, I made Cs and Ds. She sat up front and I sat in the back. I wanted to hang out with my friends and play hookey but I had to go to school because she was in my class. Everybody teased me. How is your mama making better grades than you? She went home and hit the books and I went out the back door to chase girls. She rubbed it in. If it hadn’t been for her, I wouldn’t have gone back.
We spoil her rotten now. I have breakfast with her at least four times a week. All of my brothers do that. We are in the kitchen every morning laughing and talking and putting a smile on her face. She calls everyone Sweet Pea, but if she calls you by your name, you know you are in trouble. Sometimes mama is wrong, but we let her be right.”