My daddy said, “Son, I never got mad at a man that told me the TRUTH. I got mad at a lot of men that LIED to me!”
I’ve had many amazing experiences in my life. I chalk it up to paying attention, and having no fear of other people. Momma always said,”Remember, that was once somebody’s beautiful, brand new, Baby.” She leveled the playing field for me. Doesn’t mean I haven’t met some awful, mean people, though. When I was about 15 years old, someone arranged for me to meet a very, very famous Broadway Star backstage. When I came back out, my momma said to me, “What did you learn?” I said, “Momma, I learned to never treat anyone the way he treated me!” I’ve stayed true to those words.
I've lost so many friends in the last year, some to age, many to COVID. In these difficult moments, I have derived great strength from the words of the Masonic Funeral service.
"Yet after all, we know that the cradle and the grave are but little separated, for the moment we begin to live, that moment we begin also to die; and this change which we call death is no greater mystery than birth, for life itself is a mystery which no scientist has been able to solve."
"We are reminded of the universal dominion of death. The arm of friendship cannot interpose to prevent his coming; the wealth of the world cannot purchase our release; nor will the innocence of youth, or the charms of beauty propitiate his purpose.
This scene reminds us of our mortality, and that, sooner or later, these frail bodies must return to their parent dust."
Losing so many friends as we speak. Reality brings comfort. From the Masonic Funeral Service: “When we look about us we see the marks of change and decay written upon every living thing. The cradle and the coffin stand side by side…and, it is a solemn truth that as soon as we begin to live, that moment we begin to die." SMIB
My daddy was a very wise man. Never went to school. But, his wisdom was deep.
Never more important wisdom than for today in America.
From the time I was a little boy, Momma always told us she loved us. She said, “Always tell your loved ones you love them, because when you walk out that door, you never know if you’re coming back.“ She was right.
We feel such pain when we lose loved ones because we’ve been blessed to have loved ones. My daddy always said, “Son, there’s nobody in the cemetery who’d want you to be unhappy.” So, we smile as our loved ones live on in all of us.
So much to be thankful for. Love, Respect, Discipline, Common Sense, Togetherness... my daddy’s 5 Points of Life.
My daddy - who literally never went to school - made my brothers and me each get a professional or graduate education. He always said, “Son, one thing they can’t take away from you is your education.” Momma always said, “You got a good education. Don’t waste it!” Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.
Today’s politics and COVID19 sure have made Momma and Daddy look smart!
Yes, Dr. Isaac Asimov was my friend. He taught me a lot, especially not to take things for granted. He once told me he wished he had a handlebar mustache like mine... it was right under my nose for years, and I took it for granted; then, a world famous author/scientist told me he wished he had a mustache like mine. What's right under YOUR nose that YOU take for granted?
I am a Mason.
As I was raised by my Daddy to be a good man, with a strong system of good values, I suddenly realized Masonry was a Fraternity of like-minded men. We are not perfect, but we strive to be good Men. To be one, ask one.
In case you're wondering...
"Brethren, you are now to quit this sacred retreat of friendship and virtue, to mix again with the world. Amidst its concerns and employments, forget not the duties you have heard so frequently inculcated and forcibly recommended in this Lodge. Be diligent, prudent, temperate, discreet. Remember that around this altar you have promised to befriend and relieve every Brother who shall need your assistance. Remember that you have promised to remind him, in the most tender manner, of his failings, and aid his reformation. Vindicate his character when wrongfully traduced. Suggest in his behalf the most candid and favorable circumstances. Is he justly reprehended? Let the world observe how Masons love one another. These generous principles are to extend further. Every human being has a claim upon your kind offices. "Do good unto all." Recommend it more "especially to the household of the faithful." By diligence in the duties of your respective callings; by liberal benevolence and diffusive charity; by constancy and fidelity in your friendships, discover the beneficial and happy effects of this ancient and honorable Institution. Let it not be supposed that you have here "labored in vain and spent your strength for nought; for your work is with the Lord, and your recompense with your God." Finally, Brethren, be ye all of one mind, live in peace, and may the God of love and peace delight to dwell with and bless you."
Maybe it's how I was raised. Everyone in my family helped each other. We took care of each other. My grandparents lived with us often. My momma's mother lived with us 10 years after my grandfather passed away. My daddy's momma lived with my auntie for years when she was no longer able to live alone. We brought each other food. We helped each other when someone was sick. We traveled to help family members far away. We did a lot of righteous acts, some call it Charity, all the time. We handed things down from family members to family members. We took care of each other. Maybe that's why I would never forgive myself if I gave someone COVID.
Five days of stress in New York City. Conference, meetings, production, shows... in COLD weather! Then, Wednesday's trip home was interrupted by weather, and I was stranded in Chicago overnight. Taken in by my Masonic Brother, Hot Dog, I slept safe and warm after an impromptu Masonic meeting arranged by Hot Dog. Next day, I arrived in New Orleans, picked up my car... which promptly broke down across the street from the airport. After being towed to what appears so be a great car shop, I left my car behind, and rented a car to go home. When I got home, I was greeted by pipes that had blown in the cold while I was on the road. My buddy fixed those pipes, then we restarted the water... oops, water softener blown! This morning I returned home to a flooded house. Pipe Broke!!!
And, thanks to my many friends, I'm ok, my house is ok, and I'm the luckiest SOB in the world to have great friends like mine!
Lost my dear Aunt Peggy in January, 2020 She was a pillar of Love, Strength, Wisdom, Humor, Grace, Class, Beauty, and Never-Ending Goodness. Aunt Peggy was very important in my Life.
One of my favorite Aunt Peggy moments was 31 years ago, shortly after my divorce. She asked me, cocktail in hand, “Baby, how’s your love life?”
I replied, “Aunt Peggy, everybody my age is f***ed up!”
Aunt Peggy gave her sly smile and a wink, and said, “Baby, EVERYBODY is f***ed up!”
I miss her.
Legacy: “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”
My daddy was a master upholsterer, self-taught on orange crates and scrap material taken from garbage cans during the Great Depression. He never went to school; any school. Not even one day.
Daddy wanted his children to have better lives than his. He required my brothers and I to go to school to get a graduate or professional education so we could work with our heads, not our hands.
Toward that goal, Daddy made this chair out of a wooden frame and alligator hide in about 1936 so my oldest brother would have a chair to study in. Momma and Daddy got an old desk to go with it so their boys could get an education.
My big brother studied in this chair from First Grade through Medical School. My middle brother and I also studied in this chair til we each finished graduate school many years later. This chair now rests in my home, in almost new condition, just because Daddy made it so well. Our desk rests in my studio.
This chair is part of Daddy’s legacy. It is a symbol of his determination and skill for us to have a better Life than his.
Daddy lives on in all of us. Just like this chair, all the lessons He taught us live within us and our children. This, my friends, is his Legacy. I honor his Legacy every day of my Life.
May we all live on in our children like Daddy lives on in me. May this be Daddy’s Legacy for you, too.
My daddy never went to school. But, he spoke 5 languages fluently. He was extremely useful in the US Navy during WWII because he could converse well with German POWs and more. I speak three languages almost every day here in Louisiana. When my friend, Deanna Welch, owned Crazy Bout Crawfish, I spoke with international visitors almost every time I was there... one day, I spoke 5 different languages to 5 different groups within one hour! I always speak two languages every day when I am in Chicago, Texas, California, New York. Definitely speak multiple languages when I travel. I try to speak a new language within three days of arrival in a new country. I can't begin to express how useful multiple languages are. I remember the story of the ridicule Clifton Chenier suffered from other artists he toured with because he was French speaking... until they got to France. The others asked him to order meals for them; what he ordered was awful. When they complained, he said, "When you learn to speak French you can order for yourself!"
Momma passed on December, 2005.
She was amazing.
SO many have told me how much she meant to them, inspired them, encouraged them, and was a role model for. I've heard, "I always wanted to grow up to be like her" from so many people. We should all aspire to leave so much goodness with our loved ones and our communities when we pass on. Every day of my life is a tribute to her memory. Thank you, Momma, for everything.
For Mothers everywhere, including my Momma...
The Flower Talk
For my purpose now, this altar is dedicated to our mothers, whose love never fails. You may rise to positions of great influence in commercial, political, or professional life, but you can never reach the heights of your mother's secret hopes for you. You may sink into the lowest depths of infamy and degradation, but never below the reach of her love. The memory of it will always stir your heart. There is no man so entirely base, so completely vile, so utterly low, that he does not hold in his heart a shrine sacred and apart for the memory of his mother's love.
Were I to draw you a picture of love divine,
it would not be that of a stately Angel,
With a form that is full of grace.
But a tired and toilworn mother
With a grave and tender face.
It was your mother who loved you before you were born--who carried you for long months close to her heart and in the fullness of time took God's hand in hers and passed through the valley of shadows to give you life. It was she who cared for you during the helpless years of infancy and the scarcely less dependent years of childhood. As you have grown less dependent, she has done the countless, thoughtful, trouble-healing, helpful and encouraging things which somehow only mothers seem to know how to do. You may have accepted these attentions more or less as matters of course, and perhaps without conscious gratitude or any expression of your appreciation. You are rapidly approaching the time in life when you will be entirely independent of your mother. The ties with which dependency has bound you to her may be severed as you grow older, but the tie of mother-love can never be broken.
Thinking back upon the years of your life when you have reached the threshold of manhood, your mother might well say in the words of the poet:
My body fed your body, son,
But birth's a swift thing
Compared to one and twenty years
Of feeding you with spirit's tears.
I could not make your mind and soul,
But my glad hands have kept you whole.
Your groping hands
Bound me to life with ruthless bands.
And all my living became a prayer,
While all my days built up a stair
For your young feet that trod behind
That you an aspiring way should find.
Think you that life can give you pain
Which does not stab in me again?
Think you that life can give you shame
Which does not make my pride go lame?
And you can do no evil thing
Which sears not me with poisoned sting.
Because of all that I have done,
Remember me in life, O son.
Keep that proud body fine and fair.
My life is monumented there.
For my life make no woman weep,
For my life hold no woman cheap.
And see you give no woman scorn
For that dark night when you were born.
These flowers which you see on our altar are symbols of that mother love. The white, the love of the mother who is gone. And the red, the mother who still lives to bless your life.
Far in the dim recesses of her heart
Where all is hushed and still,
She keeps a shrine.
'Tis here she kneels in prayer
While from above long shafts of light upon her shine.
Her heart is flower fragrant as she prays.
Aquiver like a candle flame,
Each prayer takes wing
To bless the world she works among,
To leave the radiance of the candles there.
We want each of you to take a flower from the altar. If your mother has passed over to the other shore, you will choose a white flower and keep it always sacred to her memory. May the sight of it always quicken every tender memory of her and strengthen you anew in your efforts to be worthy of her hopes and aspirations for you. If your mother is living, you will choose a red flower. When you go home tonight, give it to your mother. Tell her it is our recognition of God's best gift to a man: his mother's love. Take her in your arms and say, "Mother, I've learned a great lesson tonight. The ceremonies have helped me realize more fully how much you really mean to me. I'm going to try to show you daily how much I appreciate the sacrifices you have made and the love and care you give me."
Someday you'll find that flower, I know not where, perhaps in her Bible or prayer book or some other sacred place, a silent witness to what this night has meant to the one whose love for you, her son, is beyond the comprehension of any son. My brothers each of you will please take a red or white flower from the altar.
DeMolay can ask no more of you than that you shall endeavor so to live as to be worthy of your mother's love.
This is one of my favorite memories in Life. My momma was an amazing woman. She was the solid foundation of our family. She always encouraged and believed in me... even though I didn't look right, didn't act right, didn't have real job, and "had such a rough life." She always had Hope for me. She always gave me strength, wisdom and humor. I miss her every day! Back in 1991, I sent her the 8x10 black&white glossy cover photo for the album "MOJO GONNA GIT YA!" (who remembers 8x10 glossies?). She said to me, "DO YOU HAVE TO LOOK LIKE A MOJO???!!!" Daddy grabbed the phone, and said, "Dammit, don't listen to her. Yesterday she had her lady friends over here, pulled out that photo, and said, "Look at my son in show business; isn't he handsome?" Momma was one of a kind. I'm a very, very lucky boy!
My momma was a very smart woman. I remember when I got in trouble as a boy on the school bus. Let’s just say I had a rather disruptive sense of humor. The bus driver confronted me in front of my momma, and I said he was lying. Then I remember all the kids confirmed what the bus driver said about me. I told Momma they were lying. Momma looked at me, and said, “So, you’re telling me everyone is a liar but you. I’ll give you one more chance to tell the truth.” I confessed.
My punishment was that Momma didn’t trust me for a good while. That was a terrible punishment. From then on, I told the truth. Sure was a lot easier to get through life that way. After all, it’s a lot easier to believe there’s one liar rather than 1000 liars picking on poor little old me. I can honestly say I raised my children the same way, and they’ve always told the truth. That has made them great human beings.
Daddy used to say, “Son, I never got mad at a man that told me the truth. I got mad at a lot of men who lied to me.”
Take due notice, thereof, and govern yourselves accordingly.
I spoke to my momma at least once, sometimes three times, every day. I sure do miss her love, wisdom, wit, and encouragement. She and Daddy were my best friends... married 70 years TO EACH OTHER! Momma still visits even though she passed in 2005! Amazing woman! Love ya, Momma!”
My youngest daughter, Dr. T Peche, said something profound to me a few years ago that now guides my life. She said, "Dad, I need you to take care of yourself. You're all I've got."
Stopped me in my tracks, and started me down a much healthier path.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DR. T PECHE!
In 1983, a precious child was born. My daughter, T Peche, was a magical child, always making people around her happy. She inherited from my grandfather a sense, even as a small child, of health and illness. She often let people know they were ill even before they knew. She saved more than one person's life when she was a child. Now, after a decade of education, she is a Neuro-Oncology specialist helping ease pain, treat desperately ill people, relieve suffering for her patients and their families. She survived being raised by a pretty eccentric dad, a childhood as a pro musician on stage, TV and nightclubs til college, and 10+ years of grueling education. She is an amazing woman. I am incredibly proud. There are no words to express what she has contributed to my life. Happy Birthday to one of my Life's greatest legacies, Dr. T Peche! "Because of me, my children live. Because of my children, I will live forever." Man in Bar, 1990.
My kid probably saved my life. Our Father-Daughter trip to Costa Rica, scheduled for today, was canceled last Friday night. My daughter, Dr. T’ Peche, said, “Dad, I don’t think you should be getting on an airplane right now. You’re in a high-risk group because of your age.” I agreed to her wise counsel. Today, Costa Rica declared a national pandemic, and closed its borders. Last week, they had their first case. Now, lots of cases and deaths and locked borders. And, we woulda been in deep trouble!
Early in the COVID CRISIS you all made my child's life easier! Thank you all for your messages of love, gratitude, and support for my daughter, Dr. T’ Peche, and her amazing colleagues across the country. Your outreach makes a huge difference. Here are her words: "Hearing the clapping tonight for healthcare workers and essential personnel brought tears to my eyes. It's been an incredibly challenging time, and this acknowledgment warmed my heart, and undoubtedly did for others, as well. We are all stronger with support! Thanks, NYC, and stay safe out there!"
WAY BACK, I raised my daughters, alone!!! My daughters, T' Peche and Fiddling Marcy. Marcy was already a brilliant fiddler at just 7 years old. She won a full scholarship to Vanderbilt University on Cajun and Classical fiddling, and is still fiddling. T' Peche is now Dr. T' Peche, and is a Neuro-oncology Specialist at America's top cancer center. They're grown up. I'm not.
Daddy always said, "Son, eventually, the child becomes the parent. My youngest daughter, Dr. T Peche, is visiting me for Thanksgiving week. We are having a wonderful time! This morning she brought me cherished memories of old times when both my daughters were young and at home. Then, she told me I need to clean my house, eat better, and declutter. Love ya, Peach!!
Today, my big brother sent me a photo of Dolly Parton and Ricky Skaggs meeting Wolfman Jack (Uncle Bob). Bob was such a huge, international star, but you’d NEVER know it when you met him in real life. He was incredibly humble and loving, and a major inspiration and mentor in my life!
He often told me he was proud of me; that's just who he was. In fact, in our last conversation, just a few weeks before he died, he said to me, “Ya know, you’ve wanted to do this all your life. Even if you’re barely getting by, you’re ahead of 99 percent of the world because you’re doing what you enjoy. I’m proud of you.” He died when he got home from that trip.
Today I switched from a full-size to a queen-size bed in my home. Feels like I went from a fishing boat to a battleship! Usually sleep on queens and kings on the road, but it looks so weird in my house! Oh, well, the 180° view of the stars is just as good!
Dr. Isaac Asimov was a personal friend of mine for many years, from the early 1980s until he passed away. He once said to me, “Mojo, I have written 648 books. I am a genius. People often tell me I’m arrogant when I tell them I’m a genius. They never tell me I’m wrong.”
A discussion with Dr. Asimov led to a story with a great lesson that I routinely tell. One evening, as we were visiting (at a cocktail party, no less), he suddenly said, "Mojo, I've always wanted a handlebar mustache like yours, but I could never get it to grow in!" I was shocked, and replied, "Dr. Asimov, it would ruin your image. You're known for your porkchop sideburns." He agreed.
From that moment, I have used the story to teach the lesson that we all, often, fail to appreciate the value of things right under our own noses! Even a world famous man envied what was right under my nose!