Mama Posts

Remembering That Which You Cannot Forget

Editor’s Note: This is a repost from Christmas 2012 originally titled Getting Mama Ready.

In 1966, when we got word of my father’s death, it was my brother’s crying that frightened me most. The way he beat at the wall and yelled about the men he would grow up and kill one day.  Mama had worried that her death would undo Frank. Maybe she’d remembered his cries from all those years ago, too. read more

My Nomadic Mama

Me & Mama Hawaii

In Hawaii with Mama in her Jackie O days.


Her bible is sitting on my desk. One of many my mother studied. There’s a pair of black-handled scissors laying across it, and a postcard for one of my books. The one book I’ve written that Mama never read. She died before I wrote a single word of it.

One of my kin told me recently that she didn’t like the way we buried Mama. Said it bothered her that I had just poured Mama’s ashes into the hole instead of putting them into an urn and placing that in the ground. read more

It’s My Party

photo 3 (7)

Today is my 59th birthday. I can hardly fathom it. I feel like I’ve finally mastered some game that has granted me access to a warp zone where everything goes faster, where the Novembers seem to bump up right next to one another, where the summers get shorter and shorter, and even the winters don’t seem long enough anymore.

Does everyone come to feel that way?

For the past decade, I have spent nearly every birthday on a plane, flying from DC back to Oregon. I’ve taken one detour from that routine, to fulfill a speaking gig in Atlanta. After that gig (one in which I stood behind a platform in a swanky uptown Atlanta hotel and asked a crowd of 800 dark suits how many names of dead and wounded would be enough before they finally decided to put an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ) I swore I’d never miss another Veterans Day in DC. read more

Words of Wisdom from Mama and Hank Williams


I am of that bridge generation. I remember when lives were private matters, when the only persons who knew the latest news and most of the town’s gossip were the Baptist preacher and the party-line operator.

But that was another life-time ago. A time before 24-7 news. A time before the yapping heads of talk shows. A time before technology. A time before Twitter, Instagram and MeBook. A time when it was considered the height of vulgarity to get all up in somebody’s business. read more

If God had a mama


God is an orphan. As far as any of us know, he had no father, no mother. He had to learn to scrap by on his own from the earliest of time.

He didn’t have a mother to tell him when to switch the lights off and on, or when to quit playing in the waters. When God grew scared of the dark it was all up to him to figure out a way to create light.

When God wanted to visit the zoo, he had to fashion all the animals and name them one-by-one read more