Friday, January 10, 2014

Lambert "Sono" Emanuel

I was on the Glanvillia Beach, looking out over the Caribbean Sea, in my usual quandary, when a tall, handsome, vibrant man suddenly appeared at my back.  Without a word, he picked up a piece of turquoise blue beach glass and handed it to me.  His presence had an instant impact and I immediately felt safe.  Later he told me that 2 weeks prior to this he had dreamt that he saw a mermaid with silver scales on Glanvillia Beach.  This was the start of a relationship that was intense and powerful. Sono and I had 5 filled, wonderful years together. 

Sono was born in the Portsmouth area on January 1, 1954.  He proudly says he was the first baby born in Dominica on that date at the crack of midnight!  He grew up in Portsmouth, Lagoon and Clifton and spent some years in Roseau where he made and sold “sweeties” (candy). He spoke Patois, Creole and French fluently. He was a shipwright, a fisherman, a man of all trades, but foremost a sailor.  He was 13 when he built his first boat and went on to build many more, some of which are still in use. He was one of the young men who revolted against the infamous Dread Act and fled into the bush, and survived the ensuing persecution.  This is a period he would never talk about.  He owns a wooden house in Glanvillia where he raised two of his children as a proud single father.  He was an active member of the St. John’s Fisherfolk Cooperative.

Sono was a talker with a quick and easy wit.  He could tell a good story and he would joke at every chance - as do most Dominicans I have found.  Even on his bed of pain and misery in the hospital he would tease the nurses.  How I used to love listening to him and his friends recount elaborate and embellished tales of their adventures at sea, replete with actions!   He was kind and overly generous to the underdog.  He had an amazing memory. Now that he is gone much history has gone with him.  He could recount the genealogy of any Dominican.  I often derided him about his accounts of who’s who, but it always turned out to be correct. He had a special bond with very young children and animals and a deep respect for the old people.  He was quick to anger, loud, not a man to cross, proud and impatient and stubborn, but  for all his ‘ways’ and for all his foibles, he was a good kind, loving man.

Although a man of the sea he was connected, in that unique Dominican way, to the land.  He knew every plant, its medicinal use and where to find it. He knew every creature, every lizard, and every insect.  He literally could call the birds out of the trees. He was proud of being the sure footed ‘goat’, the Capricorn.  He named one of his boats “Capri.”

He practiced his guitar regularly and loved roots reggae.  He knew them all and had a good collection.

He also had a side that went unappreciated.  Under the quips lay a thinking, reflective man.  Clearly he had struggled with the existential questions we all deal with and had come to his own conclusions.  He mostly kept them to himself.  He lived them, he didn't talk about them.  They became integrated into his being.  As well,  other dimensions to what we know and see and believe to be obvious were a natural part of his day to day life and activities.  He was in contact with the Creator, in whom he had an abiding belief. 

On July 25, 2013, on his way to the airport to pick me up he had a catastrophic car accident.  His neck was broken, C4, C5, C6 were fractured.  He died on January 8, 2014 not only as a result of this accident but also as a result of the appalling lack of medical care and services, and ignorance.

Sono and Marian at Red Rocks Beach


ann said...

What a loving tribute. My deepest condolences to you Marian.

Glanvillia girl said...

I did not know sono died. What a sad way to find out. Did not get to know you Marian but my deepest condolences to you all the way from ny