Friday, January 04, 2008

Mama's Birthday

I received a call from Talib and Mama Bobinaoux early, January 3, which completely changed what I'd planned for the day. My mother, her husband and grandson drove up for a few days and I'd planned on spending the day with them. It had been cloudy, and the forecast was rain, but I planned to be a good hostess and give my visitors what they wanted. Instead, I stayed home and called people, emailed others to halt Charles Platt's (J72525) move from California State Prison-Solano to Avenal Monday, January 7. Charles is ill and so is his mother, and the move would cause a hardship on both.

Charles can't remain in CSP-Solano. Other inmates have to almost carry him to meals and to the visitor's room. He is almost skin and bones because he often skips meals, since he can't get there without assistance. It seems as if the prison would recommend compassionate release since Charles' condition is not going to improve.

If I spent my mother's birthday crafting a strategy for his release, the least the rest of you reading this blog can do is call D.K. Sisto, the warden and tell him to release Charles immeidately. His number is (707) 451-0182, fax: (707 474-3200. Charles was found suitable for hospice care last summer and put on the waiting list for California Medical Facility at Vacaville, but the place is overcrowded. If the system can't comply with its own recommendation--release the man into his mother's care. He has served his time and poses no threat to the public.

Okay, so you get the drift. Mama tells me to take care of my Charles business, and says she and Elder will pray that he is released and in the meantime granted a longer stay at Solano. While I'm working away, Charles' mother tells me she has a hair appointment. I'm like, wow, I'm skipping my mother's birthday celebration and she drove eight hours to celebrate with me. I am postponing work I need to take care of and she is going to the beautician? Then I think about the fact that she's been carrying this burden alone for years, since Charles was misdiagnosed.

She'd already told me she was angry this morning after Charles called and told her they were moving him. Perhaps this is how she unwinds. At about 6 p.m. I leave the house. I plan to pick up some barbecue for dinner and a copy of the San Francisco Bay View where my tribute to Mama is published.

When I get to the hotel everyone is happy to see me. Elder and Mama sing after Elder tells me these great stories about how he continued his education by going to the library and reading everything he could when he got off work in the evening. He wows us with math questions only he can answer. He also recites the alphabet forward and backward. The lesson there he tells his college educated children is, if you know something you should know it in all aspects--mastery is what he demonstrated with this simple task.

Dropped out of school in the 4th grade, Elder said although he went to work to help his father take care of his siblings when his mother died, he didn't plan to neglect his education. He went to the library and read. Elder was a professional musician, until he decided he wanted to use his gifts for God. He named big names who wanted to record and/or play with him.

As Elder speaks, Mama smiles and occasionally reminds him of a salient point or interjects a concept to steer the conversation in a certain direction. At her prompting Elder talked about his first guitar which he made from a cigar box. Now they make professional guitar's from cigar boxes. The little boxes gove the instrument a unique sound.

What a love story my mother and Elder make. I remember his voice praising the merits of Snow Banks, who'd just died. I wasn't surprised that he and Mama married. He was the coolest preacher on the stage that afternoon four years ago. I've heard of people meeting their next spouse at the funeral of another. Up to Snow's funeral, I thought it was some screen writer's wicked humor gone fishing. When Mama told Elder she wanted to visit San Francisco, they were here the next day--talk about making someone's dreams come true....Edwin met me at the door with origami petunias and a lovely picture of a horse. He was writing a story about it when I arrived.

I visited for over three hours. While there we called Cousin Mary in Bay St. Louis and Christian, another grandson, called. Cousin Mary told me about cousins I never met who are now all dead. She told me about my great-grandmother's daughter, my greatmother, Rosetta. Mama told me about when I was a vegetarian. She said I came home one day and said I wasn't eating anymore meat. She described a bean patty she'd make for burgers. This was before all the vege burders one can order in almost all resturants.

I hope next time the Leassear's come visit Christian can come too. Mama proudly showed me her Medicare card. Now she can see a doctor when she is ill. Elder showed me a really cute photo the couple--Elder looked like Melvin Van Peeples and Mama looked cute in her dashiki. They took the picture on his birthday in November. He had it in his wallet. He showed me his present on his wrist. A handsome man, he called mama "baby" and "sweetheart" a lot.

Mama certainly wasn't unhappy to hear such endearments. Four years after their eyes met accross the room, romance is still in the air.


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