Saturday March 16, 2019.
« How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. »
–Winnie the Pooh, By A.A. Milne
On October 31, 1969, I was born in Big Springs, TX, the youngest of six children, my parents, Carter and Lily Flores would have. By the time I was ten years old, my older siblings had moved out of my parents’ house, and in many ways, I was like an only child, with just me, Mom and Dad living at home. My father owned and operated a roofing and construction business and my mother would help him do this. Mom would do secretarial work, she’d also deliver materials to the jobsite the work crews might need and she would also take me and pick me up every day to school. Often times, Mom would combine running errands for my Father, dropping off mail at the post office, making a deposit at the bank, while picking me up at school. In this manner I spent a lot of time with my Mom, just me and her during my formative years.
I think back to those times and how much my parents loved me. My Mother was the kind of person who would hug and kiss me and tell me she loved me and by loving me, she taught me how to love, and was the first person I ever loved in my life. I can remember being a small boy and hugging and kissing my Mom because I loved my Mom more than anything – always have and always will. So, in that regard, my life was different from some prisoners, I had a mom and dad who loved me very much and were always there for me, no matter what I was dealing with or going through. My parents never turned their back on me or left me out in the cold; even when I was sent to Texas death row, they stuck by my side and when no one else was there for me, when no one else knew who I was, my mother and father were always there for me.
I think about those early years and how special they were, just me and Mom getting to spend the afternoon together, where she might include a trip to the lumber yard to pick up something the workers needed and deliver it to the jobsite, with a stop by the grocery store and because I was her baby boy, a stop at the local drive through and buy me an ice cream cone or some other snack. It was in this way my Mom and I became friends and as I grew into a teenager and then an adult we stayed close. Not only was she my Mom, she was also a beloved and trusted friend.
In many ways my personality is a lot like hers. I remember in those early years Mom going to visit her sisters and when they would get together, they would have the best time – laughing and joking and living each day to the fullest. Mom was a happy person and it really showed when she was with loved ones. And you know that’s the way life is, you see your parents live their life and you learn from them. And I can say I learned how to love and laugh and be happy and joyful from my mother. As time would go on life was often not easy for my parents and Mom had a lot to be stressed out about, but whenever she would visit me with Dad, we’d always laugh and talk and have the best of times together. In those days my parents would visit me at least once a month – they were still relatively young and could make the long trip to see me and back home in one day. My beloved Mother and Father would continue to travel to visit me until their age and health prevented them from doing this.
Me and my parents always maintained a correspondence exchanging letters weekly. I would write home at least once a week because I knew Mom worried about me and I wanted to assure her that I was fine, healthy and whole and she had nothing to worry about. And she would write me, telling me about the different things happening at home – what my brothers were doing, or that my sister had visited, about her little Chihuahua dogs named Bandit and Little Red who were such a big part of her life as she grew older. And my Mom was a special lady, she would tell me little things like how much she loved me, which was more than anyone else, like only a mother could, so I’d always remember this fact when she was gone. And I would do my best to express my love for her, and tell her how much she meant to me and how I loved her more than anyone in the word. I think she knew because she taught me how to love others and I did my best to continually show Mom how much I loved her.
I was sent to Texas death row when I was 29 years old and it took me years to figure out what was most important in my life, the situation being that I could not see the forest from the trees – what was right in front of me. But when I did figure it out, I began to share this with my Mom.
The number one reason why I have fought tooth and nail to prove my innocence and win my freedom was to one day be able to return home and devote my life to caring for my beloved parents who’ve been there for me all these years. Since then that’s been my goal and reason for my fight. And every chance I would get, in person during a visit, or in my letters home, I’d remind my Mom and Dad of this fact and that when I made it home, they could rest because I promised to see about their every need until they were gone. After that, I’d live for myself because I’d have plenty of time for that. Anyone who really knows me knows this was an absolute truth in my life because nothing ever came before my parents once I saw the light and understood what was most important in life.
On May 19, 2016, me and my family lost my father, Carter Flores, at the age of 79. This was difficult on me but it was devastating on my Mother. She had my Father for 49 years in her life and now he was gone. In a lot of ways I do not think Mom ever got over the loss of my father. For me, Dad’s passing was surreal because at that point in my life I was fourteen days away from my scheduled execution and I think I took that trauma and locked it away inside of myself and did my best to focus on my fight. But it was hard for Mom as she would tell me about it and now our main goal for living became one. Mom began to live for the day I’d be freed and come home and be with her and my life was spent doing everything I could to get there and see about her. Mom would even joke and tell me to hurry up! She was waiting on me and wanted me home soon. And I’d tell her I’m trying Mama! Just hold on a little while longer I’ll be there as soon as I can, I promise.
Well the unimaginable happened sixteen days ago. My beloved mother Lily Flores passed away on February 28, 2019. She was 80 years and eleven months old when she made her transition as Mom’s birthday is March 19, 1938. For me the bottom line is that Mom is gone forever and that’s all that matters. There are not enough words in the universe to describe my grief and sadness at my Mother’s passing so I will not try to do that. Besides, Mom would not want me to be sad and blue – no, she’d want me happy, laughing and living and loving life to the fullest. I know this and I’m trying to honor her memory on doing this but sometimes my emotions get the best of me because I have lost the person in the world that I love the most. I can’t comprehend the fact that now both Mom and Dad are gone and with them home, and our shared dream of me getting there in time to care for them.
So instead of writing about being sad, I’ll share a special memory. One of my favorite songs in the world is titled “Love me like a rock”, by Paul Simon. I remember this song from my childhood and even then loved its catchy melody and lyrics. But since I was sent to Texas death row, it’s become one of my all time favorites. You see in one verse Paul Simon sings about his Mama hugging and loving him like a rock and every time this song comes on my radio, I turn it all the way up and sing along with it. Because even though it’s been twenty one years since I’ve felt my Mama’s hugs, kisses and love I can close my eyes and think of my Mama hugging, kissing and loving me and in an instant I’m a little boy again. And nothing will ever take that from me – and Mom need not worry, I will never forget how much she loved me. Never ever.
How lucky I am to have had such a wonderful Mother that makes saying goodbye to her so hard. Because without a doubt this baby boy was loved like a rock by his Mama and I’ll always love my Mother and remember how much she loved me in return. Always.
LOVE PEACE HOPE & LAUGHTER!
Charles Don Flores #999299
Texas Death Row
March 16, 2019.