Today, my eldest sister told me that our mother had fell ill.  At 73 she had lived a good life to a certain degree. Her illness turned out to be some type of infection, easily treated with antibiotics. My sister explained that my mother was not acting normal in the way she used to. My worries started to increase as she explained to me our mother’s erratic behavior. I noted that the more she spoke the more my eyes watered. I was surrounded by boisterous prisoners but it seemed as if the dayroom went stone cold silent. I patiently waited for every word to trail off my sister’s palate into my eardrum. The meaning of her words trickled into my psyche but my mind rejected the notion of my mother’s body breaking down.



My sister took on the responsibility of not only our ailing mother but also our mentally ill uncle. Couple that with the responsibility for her grade school daughter, small hair biz and her daily grind, she was quickly overcome with welcoming responsibilities. Our baby brother TJ is right there, he is also loaded and straddled with responsibilities. My family is much like any other family dealing with a loved one who needs them – they were there for our mother. Our niece was right there as well, so at this point our mother is in good hands. Then a few days later, she fell ill again. I would discover that she had a stroke the first instance along with the infection. I crumbled inside. This time she had a seizure, something our mother never had. My tears became uncontrollable.


That night something invisible battered my internal world, seemingly with a sledgehammer. Throughout it all, my mother has been there. The last thing that burns in my retina was her open plea to the parole board for my release. It seemed that she wanted to live long enough for her son to come out of prison. The idea of a five year set-off may have been too much pain to endure. I can only imagine … she was there at the trial pleading that I be given some mental help as appose to a long sentence in prison. That was ignored as well. The thing we prisoners all dread is losing our mothers while we are in prison. We can’t even talk about losing our mother. I cannot explain a man’s love for his mother. 

I absolutely adore Redd, my mother


Hearing that she had fell ill truly struck me very, very hard. The questions my sister asked me, caused tears to well up in my eyes as I write. Choking down that pain is something I find impossible to do. At the onset of doing this sentence, I silently wondered would her and my deceased uncle be alive to see me walk out of prison. It’s mentally crazy enough coming to prison when my kids were 5 and 4 years of age, now these guys are all right at 30 years of age with kids that were their same age when I left. Seeing an adult across from me, as well as fighting these grey hairs, are sometime a mind job.

Now my wonderful mother is falling ill and it hurts us all. It’s tough dealing with these feelings behind bars. Fortunately I have contact with my family about my mother’s situation. Without any contact my heart and mind would have reeled continuously. 

This piece is about the pain caused by my mother’s illness and I can’t be there.

Derrick L. Griffin, 03-04-2021 

Exit mobile version