Quicksand: The Unfortunate Death of Donda West (was only the beginning)!

Those are the facts and they are indisputable! They also show how people, some in the press and others in administrative positions in the government, manipulate the truth and mislead the public.  However, that is not our story; nor is it is not the end of mine. In reality, it is only the beginning. My story is about triumph. It is about not “forgetting who you are in the moment of your encirclement by that which you are not”. It is about personal growth.

“Sometimes Jan, the dragon wins”. That’s a favorite saying of mine. I remember it from conversations with my mother. It is not an admonition to surrender, but merely the recognition that success in life is not easy. Success is more like a batting average. Not all swings result in a home run, a double, or even a single. Sometimes, the batter strikes out. Her point: “Don’t quit; show up for your next time at bat. Stay in the game. For
only by participating do you give yourself the chance to win”.

In the film, “The Replacements”, Keanu Reeves plays a “has been” quarterback,
given a second chance to play football at the professional level. That
opportunity, the result of a player’s strike, is given to him by a crusty old
coach, played by Gene Hackman. The replacement players are a move on the part
of team owners to avoid cancelling the season (think NBA Basketball right now).

As the story winds through its dramatic- and comedic – twists and turns, the moment of truth arrives when the coach (Hackman) convenes his team and urges his players to get “to the next level, the mindset of a champion, by confronting their own, personal fears”.

Hackman is serious, but the scene becomes humorous when the 300 pound gladiators that make up his team confess to their fears: in particular, the childhood fears of being frightened by bugs and spiders. The payoff occurs with Reeves’s admission that his character is afraid of…well: “quicksand”.

The other players, though confused by his confession, listen intently as Hackman encourages Reeves to explain what he means. Hackman’s character, for obvious reasons, gets it immediately.

His fear, Keanu clarifies, is falling into a situation that he can’t control. Realizing that each correction he makes, and each step that he takes, though the logical thing to do, pulls him in deeper and deeper, until finally, he’s in over his head.

I, too, got the point of Reeve’s character immediately.
On November 10, 2007, that is exactly where I found myself: in “quicksand”.

(But my life didn’t start when Harvey Levin appeared on Larry King Live and lied, nor  was it about to end there. Up until now we have merely looked at the facts surrounding the death of Donda West. I produced documents because I wanted you, the reader to see for yourself.

Nonetheless, there is one more, a much more important, thing for me to do. That intense light that exposed Stephan Scoggins, Brad Rose, Harvey Levin, the Medical Board of California, and the media has to be pointed at myself also. I am just as much, in fact more, a part of this as any of them. That is what this story is all about.)

I was born Rudalgo Alonzo Adams in Middletown, Ohio, on April 21, 1954. My parents, Charles Adams and Gwendolyn Francis Roberts Adams, had been married approximately one year earlier at the ripe old age of 18. My father was in the Navy at this time; stationed in Panama.
Very early after my birth, my mother and I moved there to be with him. And so
my early years as Rudalgo Alonzo Adams were spent in Central America in the
Canal Zone. I learned Spanish, along with English, as my first language.

I don’t really have much of a recollection of life at that time. Nor do I have much of a recollection of my father then. (I have come to realize that that oversight
on my part is not really a character defect that happened by accident. It
speaks volumes to who I am and how I think today. I live in the present, the
now, and am constantly looking forward to the future based on what I do now. It is not so much that I don’t pay attention to, or learn from my past, as it is that I am constantly
looking forward to the next challenge or the next mountain to climb.)

My name, Rudalgo Alonzo, was in honor of my father’s closest friend, but I have no memory of him either. The first and last memory I truly have of Panama is actually leaving. There is, in my mind, an image of a very large ship with me looking overboard and thinking, “My God, the water is a long way down.” Instinctively, it was a child’s fear of
falling that stuck with me. That is why the image has remained so vividly.

My mother was the third of ten children born to Alice Gates and Jonathan Roberts. She was born January 15, 1936. I did not know much about her life as a child either because we frankly, never discussed it. As a child you rarely think of your parents as
having also been children too. Yet that was the benefit of our time together
during this chapter of my life.

During this period following the death of Donda West and the collapse of my professional life, I was severely depressed. I know that to be true now in
hindsight because of those occasions when I, an early riser, had trouble just
getting out of bed. I’d often just lie there thinking, contemplating what I
should I do next.

Many times the prudent thing to do seemed just to quit. I was
tired despite having just awakened from a night’s sleep, but more importantly,
my soul was tired too. Finding the energy to go on was difficult. It was also
at these times that I could sense-or imagine- my mother’s disappointment,
either in me or in life itself. She would “mope” around the house cleaning
furiously avoiding any interaction. There were times when she made no eye
contact and we did not speak. That gave my mind the opportunity to entertain
even more depressing thoughts. I could not shake the idea that she, my mother,
just simply did not like me. What a horrifying thought for a child, any child
at any age, to have. Perhaps she never did.

At my lowest point, when I felt like I was about to explode and could not take the isolation any more, I mustered up the strength to ask her about her life. Focussing on my issues had
exhausted my imagination and maybe, just maybe, my past started long before I
was born. I had to get some insight into exactly who this person was so that I
could also get a glimpse of myself.

It was a Friday morning and I lay in bed with the covers over my head. In the distance, I could hear my mother downstairs in the kitchen, dishes clinking as she went about fixing her own breakfast. It was past 8 o’clock in the morning. I know that because I had
looked at the clock on the stand next to the bed some time earlier. Then it had
been 7:59am and although I did not know exactly how much time had elapsed, in
my mind it seemed like quite a while, I felt guilty for having not gotten up to
fix breakfast for her this morning, but I was simply paralyzed with grief. For two days
prior to this we had not spoken except when absolutely necessary.

I forced myself out of bed. I went directly to the computer and dialed up my e-mail. There was only spam. This represented more insult to injury. I had quickly become irrelevant and that made seeing a solution, a light at the end of the tunnel, even more difficult
and unlikely.

My mother appeared behind me. I had been so engrossed in my own misery I had failed to hear her coming up the stairs or into the room. “Did you call in your medicine?” she barked in a tone that could only be interpreted as angry from my perspective. In fact, it wasn’t so much a question as it was a command. No hello, or how are you, just an affirmative statement was made. “I need to go over to Wal-Mart later and I’d rather do it only once”.

I got up from the computer to walk past her. The last thing I needed the first thing this morning was a confrontation. “I put a call in to the doctor’s office” I said. “They need to
renew it first.” There was no reply and I continued on down the stairs to get
myself some breakfast. I poured a bowl of cheerios and chocalte milk. I needed
comfort food and this was my favorite from childhood. I stared at the stack of
envelopes sitting on the table in the breakfast room, another reminder of how
bad things had gotten. These contained CV’s and applications I was sending to
various universities and hospitals seeking employment. I had prepared them the
night before. “Man”, I thought, “this should not be happening. My only error was silence”.

It wasn’t though, my only error. I also needed to stop looking back, relivinga thousand pasts at the expense of one future. At least I had a skill and an education that was marketable. But that too is of little consequence when you can’t, or aren’t, using it.

After finishing my cereal I returned to the kitchen and took a strawberry Activia out of the refrigerator. Yogurt was comfort food also. I quickly finished it and headed back up the
stairs to the computer. It had been more than a year since my second ankle
fusion operation and despite the agonizing pain associated with bone surgery; I
was now even more frustrated because walking was unsteady and had not seemed to
improve. I moved slowly and this, on top of my depression, made me even more

Sitting back at the computer I began to collect my thoughts. I reaffirmed from lessons from my mother the notion that my reaction to all this was more important than what was going on. The habits of childhood follow us throughout our lives.

As a child, out of necessity, I had learned to encourage myself as a mentor. I was in control and I was the one who was going to make it better. It all comes down to what I do. I resolved to have a conversation with my mother. I was going to break the ice. I was going to make this better by understanding her point. I didn’t get the
chance. The next time she entered the room her posture was the same: I’m not ready
to talk so don’t engage me. “I ‘m going to the post office” she said. “Do you
want me to mail those envelopes?” She then examined the envelopes in her hands more closely. “Why didn’t you use one of those standard fee envelopes from the post office?”

Without responding I rose from my chair and headed for the closet. Postal envelopes were kept on a shelf there and after a few moments of searching I triumphantly offered, “There are none”. I could have said it from the start because I knew the answer, but that would
have only elicited more venom. This circumstance required demonstration. With
that she left the room and I headed for my bedroom to get the five dollar
postage. By the time I had gotten the money, she was already down stairs and so,
I dropped the cash down through the stairwell, which separated and fluttered
down the stairs like five separate butterflies. I didn’t wait for her to
collect it. “Thanks” I said, and with that she was gone.

One thought on “Quicksand: The Unfortunate Death of Donda West (was only the beginning)!

  1. Sometimes words (or lack thereof) can inspire and motivate. Words can hurt or heal…I’m sure you both felt you had a lot to deal with. During those times we tend not to be the kindest to those we love. I have a wall hanging to remind me:


    Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs, love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres. Love Never Fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4 one of my favorites…Sometimes we just need the space to deal with the hurt. I’ve felt my mother didn’t like me in the past. Now–I realize she did the best she knew how at the time. Cherise her now; I miss mine dearly.


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