The last week or so has been full of media coverage surrounding Ted Williams, the homeless guy who has a great voice and just so happened to be panhandling to someone who put his video on yo.utu.be. This has become the feel good story of the new year, and for good reason of course. It’s nice to see so many people wanting to help someone who’s been down on their luck. And of course my twisted ass thinks it’s great that the dude getting the help is ‘other’.
I’m beyond happy for this dude, and last week I saw him and his mother on the morning talk show circuit. Her first words of advice were “do not disappoint me”. Wise words coming fro 90 year old mom dukes. While the media people are skinning and grinning and celebrating (mostly themselves for giving dude a chance–like “seeeeee, we help people!”), I’m skeptical.
I wish I had it in me to be more optimistic, but addiction is no stranger to my family. I’ve seen it, lived with it, and watched it destroy part of my people. There’s been mention that he’s dealt with drugs, alcohol, and a penchant for theft. What I haven’t seen though, is any help given to him to assist him in dealing with those demons. Those demons are powerful, and sometimes all consuming.
Unfortunately, I know the ticks and jerks of a crackhead. My uncle, a man who was addicted to crack for decades but who has now traded that addiction to one for Jesus (Praises be. Praises be.), put my family through hell and high water, and cost us all a grip of money. When he was on the stuff but on a three or four week sober kick, he moved like Mr. Williams did during several of his interviews. Uncle E called me on Friday and said, “that man is either on that shit still or something ain‘t right, Niki. I don’ t think he’s gonna make it. All that new money means easy access. That‘s what‘s gonna eat him alive. Pray for him to have the strength to do right”. Coming from a former addict, that statement said a lot. And it also expressed exactly my own thoughts.
I’m hopeful, skeptical, and trying to be optimistic. For some reason, I find myself invested in his success because I so wish he takes advantage of what’s in front of him. I had a few very talented addicts in my family, that had they been given the chance to do right and if they’d had the strength in themselves to get over their sicknesses could have done something with themselves as well, but instead ended up staring at the inside of pine boxes six feet under their gravestones far before their time.
Mr. Williams, my hat off to you for handling your new success in stride thus far. I pray that you use the gift God has given you in a better way than you have until now. Like your mama said, don’t disappoint. Don’t disappoint yourself