Ronnie is THAT MOM.
The best poem I ever wrote, no contest, is the one I wrote for Ronnie for Mother’s Day 2009. She inspires me. From the very beginning of our relationship to this point, more than a quarter of a century later, she is my muse in every aspect of life, not just poetry.
Kindness and thoughtfulness are inextricably intertwined in my perception. She is both of those personified. She has put up with my shit for that quarter-century-plus and still retained the bandwidth to be the best mom imaginable for our MJ and Chloe throughout their sweet, young lives. And even beyond that, she has demonstrated the depth of character to also share herself unselfishly and unstintingly with relatives and friends.
She is the bravest person I know, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’ll tell you one illustrative story. In the Fall of 2005 after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we finally managed to get our family sailboat, the Zombie Princess, under the multiple bridges keeping us in New Orleans and escape to the open water of the Gulf of Mexico. We spent a couple of days resting at anchor behind a Mississippi barrier island waiting for a good weather window to make our crossing from there to Naples, Florida, then tucked in behind a squall front which was heading in our direction but ahead/away from us.
Unfortunately, we were faster than the front and caught up with it the evening of our departure day. I’ve been sailing most of my life. I’ve been in some truly shit conditions: conditions bad enough to knock down a keelboat manned by a skilled 8-man crew; conditions where a tack consisted of the crew running the tack then climbing to the high side to be “rail whales” where they all sat puking their guts out and anticipating the same experience on the next tack; conditions where the autopilot could not handle things and hand steering was required and that was so taxing that we had to switch off every hour due to fatigue; and so on. During all those experiences, I never puked. I was always the iron-stomach guy.
Well, I puked that night. And I was cold and miserable. Yes, cold in the Gulf of Mexico in September. And it was all hand steering, all the time. And you know who kept an eye on the girls and relieved me at the wheel? You guessed it. Ronnie would get up from trying to rest and relax in the forward berth. She would first puke in the head, then make her way aft to the galley, near the companionway, where she’d puke again, in the sink. Then, she’d climb up to the cockpit, come sit by me at the wheel, and puke off the stern. Then she’d take the wheel and relieve me so I could try to rest and relax and recuperate a bit. After a coupla off-duty hours where I was at least horizontal and not at the wheel, I’d return and relieve her. Ronnie would relinquish the wheel to me and reverse her approach path, puking off the stern, going down the companionway to puke in the sink, going forward to puke in the head, then lying down to try to rest for a coupla hours until she relieved me. Again. And again. And again...
She did this for two days, until we mostly parted ways with that squall. If you’ve never been in circumstances like that, I can only tell you that she is not just mentally, physically, and emotionally tough, she is double tough. Beyond tough. Even though the squall was gone, we still faced three more days of sailing before reaching Naples. She, of course, continued to do her part and more. I wish you could have seen her as she piloted the Zombie Princess into the gas dock at the Naples Marina pretty as you please. An elemental power. A goddess.
My ability to tell you about her is desperately poor compared to her own writings. If you’ve never met her, or only know her superficially, read her in her own words. Start anywhere, read in any order. An exquisite human being will reveal herself to you. Ronnie is the Zombie Princess incarnate.
And as Vinny Gambini (Joe Pesci) says in “My Cousin Vinny”:
She’s cute too, huh?