From last post. I felt it important to set the scene of what took place the first day I saw my father again….
Once I took in the sight, I felt a little pang of anger as in that instant, I became resentful to my other brothers and sister as to why my father, was living like this. I was shocked to say the least, especially as I left a country where such poverty didn’t exist. I looked around at the area which was quite secluded and imagined two very poor old people struggling with nothing, just the bare necessities. One of these old people was my father. I was about to come face to face with him for the first time..
“So this was what my aunt didn’t want me to see”. I thought.
I experienced many different emotions just before I actually saw him.
Naturally I felt helpless, and saddened at the conditions but I couldn’t let him see my face, so made a decision to be content that I was in Jamaica. I was thankful he was still alive, having already grieved his death previously. At one point a quick wave of embarassment came over me; as D was also seeing my father for the first time, he followed righ behind me; I quickly reminded myself that D was also a Jamaican who had left the country when he was 14 years old. He should understand…
This idea made me feel a little better, especially as D seemed happy to to be back in his home country too.
I quickly walked up the step and went around the corner, and observed the surroundings, I noticed the little burner on the floor, with a silver pot, where they had tried to cook for themselves, I noticed the fruit tree, I now know to be tamarind tree.(below)
The clothes laid out on the line and I wandered who washed my fathers clothes. What took me by surprise was the darkness in the area and the bushes, it was clear that the occupants relied on a lantern for light during the night, whilst the natural light filled the rooms during the day.
Then I saw him…
At first my heart sank as I thought, my father was blind..the way he tried to focus, to see who these people were that was coming to see him. Luckily he wasn’t…It didn’t appear they had many visitors.
This was my beloved father, staring blankly. As in slow motion I barely got in the door when I felt the tears welled up in my eyes; I felt my chest becoming tighter as I realized my friend anxiety was coming back in full force, and I held on to the side of the doorway. My practiced breathing wasnt working so I had to consciously tell anxiety to leave. That day was not the day…
I somehow managed to control myself as I didn’t want to seem weak infront of my cousin and D.
Gradually I felt myself regain control and I asked If I could come inside. My father said yes as he beckoned me, it was strange that people who have nothing are the most accommodating. I entered the room and sat on the bed. This was to prevent him standing as he was a bit shaky on his feet using a walking stick to get around.
I thought about the last time I saw him, how energetic he was how he chased me down the hill, how he rode a bike and I felt sad in that split second. By now I could hardly breathe as the tears rolled down my cheek.
“Hello Papa”, I said excitedly.
I type this, and I recall the day like yesterday, as the images fill my mind, I smile to myself.
“Whose the person?” He said.
“It’s me”, as if he would know, but that was what I said at the time.
It’s Honey your daughter from England”, (My nickname) I wailed.
“Honey! Which Honey dat?”, Jamaican patois and with a tremble to his voice, as if he was in shock.
“Come a little closer, my father said…
“Papa! It’s your daughter” ” It’s Honey,” I said.
“Honey! my Honey! He repeated until…
He dropped back on the bed in a seated position, and in total shock, with arms outstretched to the heavens shouting.. “SEE HONEY HERE!, SEE HONEY HERE!, SEE HONEY HERE,!”.
With the third shout he poked me in my chest with all four fingers as if to see if I was real, he then continued shouting to the heavens.
SEE HONEY HERE!, SEE HONEY HERE!, SEE HONEY HERE,!”.
My father and I both got up and he held me so tight I thought he would break. Now the tears fall easily, I am actually crying for the still raw emotions of love for me from my father. I can feel the warmth of his embrace as I type. I can hear his voice, in my mind, as if he was present and I can see his image as I close my eyes. Yes!, this was what I had waited all my young life for, to see my father again. .
That day we held each other and I cried like a baby until his partner came into the room, to see what was going on. When she realised who I was she cried too. All three of us embraced, I’m almost certain D, was emotional too.
Then his partner said. “He talk about you all the time” repeating “He loves his Honey…”,
I sat back down on my fathers bed, I noticed the faint smell of urine, this time and with that the resentment came back for my siblings.
“How can this be and why is no one caring for him? I thought.
They had nothing..they were neglected.
This was absolute poverty, and it affected me. But decide to put that to the back of my mind. So that day urine and all didn’t matter I was in my fathers arms one more time. I stayed with him all day much to everyone’s dismay. After all I had only just found my father and I needed to be right there. I showed him pictures and videos of the children although sadly he thought they could see him through the video. “How primitive”… I thought. I then realised my father had lived in the bushes from I left Jamaica, and he wasn’t use to modern living. In fact everything had remained as I left it back in 1969.
Nevertheless, he was mine, and I held on to him with my dear life. I remember wishing I could sit in his lap again. but I couldn’t so, I pressed his beared chin across my cheek and felt the unshaven bristles of his beard rub against my face. I then felt his breath against my skin. I can remember how I kissed him on his eyes ,tasting his salty tears, and his forehead and cheeks. I loved my father…. I took his arms and placed it around me as he couldn’t stop crying and then I wiped his tears with my hand.
We talked, we laughed, we reminisce, and of course I reminded him when he chased me down the graveyard..
I continued to sit as close to my father as possible, creating desperate memories and telling him about my life. He liked D, so I didn’t take that from him I wanted him to remember that I was happy. I told him briefly about mum.
She didn’t want me, She wanted a boy… Second clue..
Her two sons died. Then I came along. ” Poor mum” I thought… Then I remembered those two graves, near my mango tree, my father was making the story very real. As a child I knew I had two brothers that had died but at that age it didn’t really mean much, when I saw the graves on my way to my fathers house. I was emotional. But now…my father had given me something to think about.
My mum resented me because I wasnt a boy… I then found out my father had other boys with other women, my sister was my half sister I was the only child for my mum, and I was a girl… The other women had made my mum jealous when they had their sons.
I had felt the brunt of her pain…the tears flowed again. “I was really cursed from the day I was born,” I thought.
I was not wanted by my mother, hence why she left me in Jamaica. I was taken over to spite my father when she realised my father loved me the most out of his children.
Wow! My father well he had shocked me as I had shocked him.
This was love. From a father to a daughter, a daughter to a parent. It was love pure and simple. I knew I would need to learn from this, but could I love anyone like this?. How do I forget the pain and resentment and all the hurt I had been through and replace it with love? This would be something I would struggle with, but for that moment I was happy…
My frozen heart was starting to thaw.
My thoughts quickly shifted to reality, I was already making plans in my mind to how I would help my father,
My father had not seen a television, all the modern technology was alien to him. His life had not changed and the area had not developed over twenty five years…
I was going to make it better for him…
The time in Jamaica would be a massive turning point in my life it was a time of love, happiness and more. But for now I was concentrating on being with my father, the love of my life…
D remained outside with my cousin, and as I took in the sights in the room before I left, I noticed something else. Right there beside the lantern with a broken reading glasses…was a bible… My father was a devouted christian….
Unbeknown to me and looking back my journey with God was surrounding me..
We stayed for a few minutes more and then I left to go back to my Aunty house.
But I promised him I would return.
“Now I can die,” my father said, as I walked through the door to go home. I know he slept well that night.
That day was a start of what I had wanted all my life. But be careful what you wish for, it may not be what you expect…. I was about to the start another hard and painful journey..