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from the series Almonds & Sunday Dresses



by Margaret Sullivan and Nelcia Marshall Robinson

He was a little man, thin and wiry, with a permanent goblin grin on his face.  He was an alcoholic.  His drink of choice was “Bay Rum”.  He was even nicknamed “Bay Rum Baby”. In a slurred voice he would assure us emphatically  “a will drink rum till a dead”, and ended each commentary with the question – “Am I right, or am I wrong?”

It is unclear how Anthony developed this life threatening addiction.  He was not a vagrant, in fact he was the brother of a respected Seamstress in the area.  His brother-in-law was in the laundry business, and numerous relatives and friends looked on him affectionately.  Most of all Anthony was the person entrusted by the late owner of the soft drink Bottling Plant, where he worked for most of his life, to take the company’s money to be deposited at the bank.

Anthony was also the official ‘Bell Ringer’ of a local Church.  In those days, the bell pealed at 12.00 noon, 3.00 p.m., and 6.00 p.m.  If you were fortunate enough to be in the vicinity of that Church, at any of these hours, you would view a spectacular show.  Anthony ‘rode’ the ropes of the Bell as if it were a trapeze.  He was pulling, riding and laughing as joyfully as the bell pealed out into the community and across the hills.  Even when the bell tolled for a funeral, or chimed for a wedding, many of those weddings took place as far away as England, Anthony managed a suitable dance on the ropes.

Then Anthony fell ill.  When his condition was diagnosed and he could no longer ring the bell – cheerful soul that he was – he took great pride in telling us he had “stoppage of water”.  I was only ten years old, and in my ignorance, this strange illness only added to the mystery that was Anthony.

Today, as I understand prostate cancer, I wonder if Anthony had decided to enjoy life in spite of his condition.  He certainly succeeded.  Am I Right or am I Wrong?