“A king, realizing his incompetence, can either delegate or abdicate his duties. A father can do neither. If only sons could see the paradox, they would understand the dilemma.” -Marlene Dietrich
Growing up I didn’t particularly like my father, in fact at times I swear I hated him with a passion. Though I kept it hidden out of fear of punishment or worst being disowned, I often times wished for a different man to call father or dad.
He was black, ugly and often smelled of flour, fish, sweat, pigs or alcohol.
He was uneducated, a pig farmer and a baker. Then he was a fisherman and steel bender and who knows what else.
He cursed, drank and smoked just like or worst than those sailors we read about in our books.
He seldom spent time with me and when he did all he ever did was criticize me for being too quiet, looking too much like my mother or something else of little consequence. He would inspect my room to see if was being kept tidy but never my books to see how I was doing in school. I later found out my aunts gave him a verbal report of that aspect.
He took me from my mother at the age of six and left me to live with his parents and his siblings, this was an area that not only had pig pens but an obeah woman at that. As if that wasn’t bad enough they would tell you stories of her deeds and about her pigs that devour children at night. Can you spell nightmare.
I remember days of having to travel to other villages to fetch water for the household because the village’s stand pipes were all dry, then there were the four am trips to the baker shop to collect bread so that my aunts and uncles could eat breakfast before leaving for work. Of course the dishes were left for me to clean because I apparently had been designated the housemaid by virtue of being the youngest.
I had to learn to cook, wash, clean, use the sat and a goose irons, how to fold clothes and make the beds correctly, how to make a shopping list and then accompany my grandmother on Saturdays to the market for vegetables, fish and meat and then to the grocery shops.
How I hated what my life had become, the feeling of being used because I was an outsider, of having my children striped away under the guise of being prepared for adulthood. There wee so many negative thoughts that ran through my head on a daily basis its a wonder I didn’t snap. I remember once being so upset I couldn’t play with the other children that I set the sheets on fire in my grandfather’s room. when asked why I had done it, I simply lied and said ‘because it was the best way to kill a roach that ran across the bed.’ Yeah right, who was I trying to fool, I got a butt whooping to last a life time thank you very much.
There’s so much I could say concerning my father, how I felt he treated me or how I thought of him as a person but I’ve realized that I was just plain childish in my thinking. Now that I am older and hopefully wiser, I am honestly thankful for who my dad was and still is, for his vision for my life. I am thankful for the lessons of life he afforded me by placing me with my grandparents, I am who I am because of that.
Those skills drilled into me have helped me be the kind of mother my children needed, for that I am eternally grateful. Thanks dad for everything, may you continue to live a full life as you watch your grandchildren grow. God bless.
“It’s only when you grow up and step back from him—or leave him for your own home—it’s only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it.” –Margaret Truman