The first time Sandy sat down with me to do a vendor spotlight was about seven years ago. We were both fairly new to The Contributor. We reconnected recently at a Contributor paper release to talk about what’s been happening since the last spotlight.
What's been going on Sandy?
Well, my wife Elizabeth had a double cardiac arrest, November 26 of 2012. She passed away for 10 minutes during the first one, and was revived by the paramedics on the city bus and then went on to have a second one at the hospital.
That’s a big deal.
Yeah it was was. It was huge. Scary. When I got to the hospital my pastor was there waiting for me. The doctor told me what was going on and I was weak after that.
I asked if I could see her and prayed over her with my pastor. And I said, “God if you got to take her, go and take her. Me and the boys will be ok.” My pastor said that is surrender for you to hand her over like that. I said well she’s not mine, she’s God’s and I’m just fortunate enough to have her in my life. But she made it through, thank God.
Later on, I ended up getting a driver’s license and got a vehicle and now I work for a hotel and recently became a grandfather a year ago.
What’s it like being a grandfather?
Well, when we was first told that his girlfriend was pregnant, I was like how do I become a grandfather? What do I do? Then I thought about all the things my grandfather did with me and I said I’ll do the same things with her that he did with me from discipline, to guidance, to nurturing, to be a good person.
What kinds of things would you do together?
We’d go fishing, we’d get out and split wood for the winter. We’d just get in the truck to go somewhere, just to go. No purpose or nothin’.We’d build stuff together, as I got older. He taught be how to plow a garden. If I needed discipline, I got it, but he would also tell me why he was doing it.
He taught me that it was important work hard and just try to do the best I can at something, and if you can’t get it figured out, ask. He taught me to be punctual. That was always by big thing from the time I started working.
It sounds like the things you learned from him, you still carry now.
I lost my way for a while. But I never forgot what he taught me. Or the things that we would do together.
Did you take a break from selling the papers?
I didn’t really take a break, I just cut back because of my work schedule. I mainly sell on Sundays at First Baptist Church at 7th and Broadway. I may occasionally do a Friday at my old spot downtown on 4th and Commerce.
Why do you keep selling papers?
My main thing is the people that I deal with at my church and downtown. I can’t let them go. These people have been there for me when I was at my lowest when my wife was sick. And I thought, ok if they sit there and back me during my time, you know, that I was really struggling to figure out what was going to happen next, then they are going to be there every step of the way and I can’t let them go.
It sounds like an important community.
It is. Just knowing I have people who have got me means a whole lot. You don’t get that very often.
It sounds like your faith is very important to you. What keeps your faith so strong?
Because of all I’ve been through in my life. Especially my childhood. Going through two years of abuse and being told that it was my fault that my mother got killed that’s always in the back of my mind still. But I don’t have the nightmares from it anymore. That keeps me going because I remember my stepfather telling me I’d never amount to anything, but here I am selling the newspaper.
If I can make it through that, and God was there by my side, and my grandparents were praying for me, then he had a reason for me to still be on this earth. I know fully well that not everybody believes in God, but I know I do and I’m not ashamed to say it.
I look back over since moving here in 2010 and how much I’ve evolved. I never thought I’d get my drivers license back and now I have the world at my disposal pretty much. I can leave whenever I want to instead of waiting 30 minutes for a bus to show up.
How’s Elizabeth doing now?
She’s doing better. I don’t think she’s ever going to get quite back to the way she used to be, but she’s better.