My Letter (Unavailable for photo)

June 2, 2018

"One more year being without you. Hope to be with you on your next 'Birthday.' Love, Ya!! Your Moma."

My mother, Deborah Ann, wrote these words to me inside a card for my fortieth birthday in 2015. My mom had stood by me as my number one supporter and longed for me to come back home to her over a span of more than nineteen years. This adventure called life had dealt us some awful hands, especially during my teen years when we didn't get along with each other very well. But no matter what type of hand that life dealt to us we never folded and played it to the best of our abilities.

She taught me this, almost beat it into me, to never, ever give up. She was tough like this; I guess it helped her to birth and raise two sons almost all on her own. She made sure that we had enough even when we didn't have enough, and still she found something to give to others although she didn't have it for herself.

I'd also received a letter from her a few days before I received the card. She wrote me that she wasn't doing so good but that she held her head up.

For the first time she revealed to me that she had cancer in her left ear and that she was scheduled for surgery on May 11th. She wrote that she couldn't write long because her ear was hurting. Lastly she wrote me that she sent me fifty dollars to buy me some shoes for my birthday because she knew I liked to play basketball.

I asked the prison chaplain if I could call my mom before her surgery; she told me that we'd try to make it on Friday, May 8th. When the chaplain called me to her office that afternoon I'd hoped to talk to my mom, but the chaplain informed me that Deborah Ann had crossed over that very morning.

Deborah Ann loved me, supported me and gave to me from herself all of my life, all the way to her last breath. She never gave up on me. I didn't give up on her neither.

I took that punch to my heart and embarked on a campaign for we men to get phones on Death Row so that other men could talk to their mothers and loved ones independent of prison chaplains. With that fifty dollars that I received after she left, I obeyed her and bought those shoes like she told me to do.

Elrico Fowler

Elrico Fowler, NC Death Row Prisoner (Unavailable for photo)

This letter is part of the Death Letter Project - North Carolina, a means to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC.


Michael Palko