Sunday, May 10, 2020


Saturday, May 2, 2020, 9:58 a.m. Tomoka C. I., Daytona Beach, FL

On this date in 1985, my father, Eugene Norman, passed away after a long illness. I was at Zephyrhills C. I., and wrote three essays, memoirs documenting that difficult time for my family: ''As My Father Lay Dying,'' ''I Wore Chains to My Father's Funeral,'' and ''In the Shadow of the Valley.'' All week I've been thinking of that time, and my father's early death at age 56. I am 70, and can't help but wonder when my time will come.

I notice that around the dorm more men are reading Bibles. Sobering times. I have a nice Bible that I keep on the end of my bunk. In 1986, still at Zephyrhills C. I., my family lived only twelve miles from the prison. In those more enlightened times, my mother, Aunt Alice Walker, and niece Tammy Norman came every Sunday to attend chapel services with me.

Inevitably, every guest preacher would say, ''Turn in your Bible to....(a certain verse or passage)." I would reach for one of the Gideon Bibles in the pew book rack in front of us, find the passage, and the four of us would squint, trying to follow the tiny words. I bemoaned the difficulty of all of us not being able to share the verses, and the absence of large-print Bibles. Alice offered to buy one for me, I ordered a nice leather-bound volume, and soon the four of us could follow the readings together with the large print.

Little did I realize that not many more years would pass before my eyesight weakened, and I needed the large-print to be able to read the Bible myself. In the ''Life in Prison--A Photo Exhibit'' volume, there is a photo of me reading from that same Bible at visit. I read it still. It has been a valued companion for over 34 years. Most of the Bibles being read in here today are those Gideons and other versions from the chapel with small print that I can't read, but they will suffice. The message is the same, offering comfort and reassurance through troubling times.

On Friday afternoon, new Centurion (private medical service contractor) Dr. Westfall came into dorm K-1 to interview every prisoner. "How are you feeling? Any health complaints? Any questions?'' He filled out forms, circling listed complaints. Mine said, ''I feel fine.'' I haven't exhibited any symptoms. He said each positive-tested inmate will be checked by nurses daily, and will see the doctor weekly. He also said we must be tested negative twice to be released from quarantine. I'd never seen this doctor in medical, and asked him who he was. He's newly-hired by Centurion three weeks ago.

This morning we were awakened at 4:45 a.m., calling ''chow,'' special diet breakfasts for those receiving them. The ''regulars'' had to wait until 6:45 a.m., to receive the congealed, cold grits, along with coffee cake and an apple.

11:57 am. They're passing out bag lunches, two peanut butter sandwiches, a baggie of chopped raw cabbage, and another green orange. Gotta go. More later.


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