Penelope Simmons remembers her mother, Cora Lee “Sug” Collins, in an interview with her daughter Suzanne Wayne.
Penelope Simmons (PS): My mother was Sug to everybody. Oh, I called her mama, too, but I called her Sug.
Suzanne Wayne (SW): Where did she get her name?
PS: When she was a little kid, she would climb up on the kitchen table and eat sugar out of the sugar bowl, and so they started calling her Sugar. And she loved us, but she was nowhere near a hovering mother; I mean we did run wild.
SW: Now what’s the story about taking target practice?
PS: So, my one brother, he would make my other brother put on layers of clothes. And then he’d take a BB gun and shoot him.
SW: But he’d have to run around the yard.
PS: He’d have to run around the yard. I mean you know, Sug wasn’t around all the time. You’d go tell Sug that you’d cut your foot. It could be hanging by a piece of skin, and Sug would go, ”Oh baby go get a Band- Aid, you’ll be all right.”
Everybody loved Sug. And everybody would come to the house to see my mama, and they would talk and talk. And I remember as a teenager, getting up in the night, and it’d be 3 o’clock in the morning, and my mother would be sittin’ at the table with somebody that had a sad, sad story. And she listened to everybody. I remember seeing this, she had her chin on her hand with one eye open. She was so tired and somebody would be telling her a story and she’d be going, ”Uh huh baby, yeah, I understand.”
And she was very beautiful. And she was vain, and she would admit that she was vain. You would not see my mother without makeup, and I know when she got really sick she was worried about how she’d look when she died. I said Sug, I’m carrying lipstick in my pocket all the time, and I promise you, I will have lipstick on you when you die. SW. Sug died on December 23 PS: She did.
SW: And we had her funeral on Christmas Eve
SW: And all the people showed up at our house for the Christmas Eve party that we’ve had every year, and I think almost everyone who came knew that she had died. But I remember hearing a man just sobbing. This man had not learned yet that Sug had died. He walked in the door and asked, ”Where’s Sug?”
But just … this woman had been so important to him. I mean, I was only 13 when she died.
SW: But she was an important woman. I was very lucky to know her.