LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
On Fridays, we hear from StoryCorp, recording everyday people talking about their lives. Today, a conversation between Rowena Gore-Simmons and her daughter Kenya. Rowena runs a nonprofit for women who've been incarcerated. She has served time herself. When Kenya was 4, Rowena spent a year in prison. Mother and daughter sat down to talk about that time, for StoryCorp.
KENYA: What was your first night like, in prison?
ROWENA GORE-SIMMONS: I was shackled, hands and feet. I was disappointed in myself, and I was scared for you guys. What was the hardest part about me being gone?
GORE-SIMMONS: What did you tell people where I was at?
KENYA: I didn't tell them nothing. But people kept saying, where's your mother?
GORE-SIMMONS: Did that make you feel like an outsider?
KENYA: What did you think about while you were there?
GORE-SIMMONS: Well, it made me really think about life. And I asked myself, who are you and who do you want to be? I wanted to be a better mother and learn more about being a mom. I wanted to hold you. I wanted to count your fingers. I wanted to brush your hair. I wanted to be with you.
KENYA: What's the best part, being out of prison?
GORE-SIMMONS: Oh, my God - (LAUGHTER) - that I have my family. This is what I'm living for, to be able to be a family.
KENYA: Are you different now?
GORE-SIMMONS: You know, I sometimes look back at the past; and I say to myself, who was that person? And I thank you for being patient with me. And I thank you for still loving me, and for giving me the opportunity to be your mother. What do you hope for the future?
KENYA: That we never get split apart again, and we stay together forever.
GORE-SIMMONS: You're so special to me, and I will always be by your side.
KENYA: I love you.
GORE-SIMMONS: I love you, too.
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WERTHEIMER: Rowena Gore-Simmons and her daughter Kenya, at StoryCorp in Baltimore. Their interview will be archived at the Library of Congress. To subscribe to the StoryCorp podcast, visit NPR.org. And you can read more conversations from StoryCorp in the book "All There Is." It's now out in paperback.
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