For decades I have existed in the realm of darkness; a place of deceit, the precise location of iniquity. And I was totally resigned to die there, with a crack pipe in my mouth, a drink in my hand and the facial orifice of someone vehemently bobbing on my lap.
On the twenty ninth day of June 2014, I for reasons at that time unknown to me, left my family’s estate in Key West and voyaged in what, looking back to that day, seemed to be a pristine fog. I know not one person in the city of New Orleans, yet there I was. I have no memory of asking anyone where the V.A. hospital was located but some how I found it. ‘IT’ was not the only thing I stumbled upon. I had discovered the crossroad back to me. I then found myself encapsulated in a blur when ‘IT’ cleared and I found myself in a V.A. sponsored rehab – ‘Gateway’. I did what I had to do. I, for all these years was finally getting ‘IT’. Walking the walk, talking the talk. Not only was I being inspired but for the Grace of God, I was inspiring.
29 November – five months clean and remarkably sober, my dear cousin Janice called me from Savannah, mournfully conveying that my mother had died. In Savannah Georgia my mother is known as Miss Lilly, the persona with twenty five plus years of sobriety. Her heart and home open to those seeking her way of life. The memorial for Miss Lilly was astonishingly wonderful, but in all honesty, I did not know Miss Lilly. I was brought into this world by Sue.
Sue Sands was my mother’s alter ego. Sue paved the way for Miss Lilly. My mother left a failing marriage in Key West at the youthful age of twenty, with me in tow. New York City was her final stop. In this mean, unforgiving community, she not only raised, provided and protected her son, she did the same for her sisters and brothers and their offspring when they joined her in New York. Years before the advent of the emergency 911 number, her siblings and/or their lot, would call my mother ‘Problem Solved’ and even when the number became activated they continued to call Sue. My mother arrived much quicker and her retribution more than appropriate.
One time in the 1960’s a man snatched her pocketbook. She gave chase but the purse snatcher eluded her. My mother never again wore high heels. At that time in our life she worked as a waitress at Chock Full Of Nuts in Manhattan, at the very site where The World Trade Buildings would one day rise. The president of Chock Full Of Nuts got wind of the theft and give my mother one hundred dollars (Sue only made thirty dollars a week). It was at Christmas time and that president of Chock Full Of Nuts became my mother’s friend. His name was Jackie Robinson…the baseball legend.
As a child, I was an overweight chubby thing but my mother always without fail gathered the strength to lift me overhead so I might see the visiting Black celebrities who performed at the ritzy hotels but were not allowed to lodge there, my God!! I laid my eyes on Sammy Davis Jr., Cassius Clay and many others when they stayed at the Theresa Hotel in Harlem and I will never forget seeing a very young Fidel Castro, who could have stayed at The Waldorf Hotel but out of solidarity, chose to stay in Harlem!! The civil rights movement was getting into gear and The Black Panthers were attempting to recruit Sue. Instead my mother chose the non-violent ways of Dr. King. I lost count of our many trips to Washington D.C. for sit-ins and marches. Damn, my mother is part of history, right up there with “One giant leap for mankind” action!
Sue broke bread with the infamous as well as the ordinary and neither looked up or down to the other. On 17, March 1970, Sue my mother, was one of the brave, very brave ‘Letter Carriers’ who dared to strike the United States Postal Service. I’ll never forget when president Richard Nixon appeared on national T.V. and ordered the workers back to work. If the C.I.A. had heard my mothers retort, she surly would have been arrested for treason. My mother was the same as all the wonderful mothers of the world except for one astonishing condition… Sue was MY MOTHER!!
Back in Savannah, the memorial completed, I was making A.A. meetings and fulfilling the requests of my mothers will. On completion of my mothers wishes, perhaps I will return to Key West and have a drink with officer ‘Flashback’, who is now the chief of the Key West police department. We might even reminisce about the time he offered me that ‘Coconut’. Or maybe I’ll stop at ANCHORS AWAY the clubhouse and get one of those designer SPONSORS. Then again I am thinking about opening a ‘NECK-ROBIC’ studio. In Bahama Village they call me uncle Ron. In Savannah I’m referred to as Miss Lilly’s son, but I tell you one and all, wherever I go I will forever be ‘RON MON SON OF SUE’.