Becoming…

The journey of a thousand miles begins with just a single step. We are moulded daily by our surroundings, the people in our lives, the people we encounter along the way. We are continuously learning, growing and evolving. This is a snippet into my becoming, today.

I’ve always had dreams of who I’d become when I grew up from a tender age. Truth be told, my greatest achievement and life lesson thus far, motherhood, wasn’t on my list of things to do. (Crew, my dear friend, speak nothing of those memories or conversations, please.) My prep school years were the start of my fondest memories and some a little hard to bear. I attended a prominent Catholic Preparatory school in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I wore a white dress with a peter pan collar and a tie. You must be wondering why all the details but I’m getting there. My grandfather adoringly got me dressed for school in the mornings. In his white polo shirt and often times without pants. I remember always complaining that he smelled like “old-people”. The audacity of this four year old.

He was the only person that tied my tie. He greeted me in the afternoons when I got home from school. He was loving, kind, gentle and sweet. The greatest grandfather if you ask me, well next to my paternal grandfather, Sir Wins. We’ll discuss my memories of him as well a little later. Grampa Wilbert passed away when I was seven. I remember the night of his passing like it was yesterday. I would always lay in my grandparents’ bed. No matter how many times he would carry me to my room to put me to sleep, I would always sneak into their room and wedge myself between them. That night I recall getting up to all the lights on in the house. My grandmother frantic, my mother pacing whilst fielding calls on the house phone.

I remember that final call and the house erupted in tears. No one said much, I surmised what had happened just by the reactions. I recall walking into the living room and seeing his drawer on the dining table. That drawer kept his medication. I have the fondest memories of Tiger balm and Voltaren as those were his go-to to ease his pain. The scents bring back so many memories of him. It didn’t hit me that he was really gone until Monday morning when I got dressed for school. I couldn’t tie my tie. In fact no one in the house could. I recall standing on the steps waiting for someone to assist me. Though not perfect, as a matter of fact perhaps not properly at all, I tied my tie for the first time without my loving grandfather.

He was a master plumber, a great father, an even more phenomenal grandfather and a strong human being. I made reference to him in my previous blog post Top 5 Lessons for Self-Sustenance, feel free to take a quick read. As I got older, the stories about him drew me closer and closer to him and made me understand that the me I’ve become has strong influences of him and I am grateful. He was firm in his ways. A miserable man indeed but his love, that was unwavering. My sister was his partner in fish eating crime. At that age, I had no interest in his talks nor caring much for the wise words he had to share. As an adult now, I have the greatest appreciation for it all.

My intermediate teacher had a heavy hand in moulding me. Mrs. Hill has always been full of life. Her laughter and smile were always so infectious. She was the main reason I fell in love with the arts. As a member of the Hatfield group, her classes were more than just classes, they were world class entertainment and fun. I began participating in JCDC Speech Festivals from that time onwards throughout my prep school years. I distinctly remember a defining moment in grade 5. I had participated that year with my poem Paul Bunyan by Shel Silverstein, looking back, a poem quite befitting a loud-mouthed strong-willed child. I sat in class that day and Mrs. Hill came in just to say, “You struck gold!” I remember asking was it national gold. She said no baby but no one can take that away from you, you struck gold! She helped me find my voice, find a self-confidence greater than any I’ve ever known. For that I’ve always been grateful.

Sir Wins, the abominable, Sir Wins the great. Something both my grandfathers had in common, their love for fish. Grandpa was a consummate fisherman. He built boats, he built houses, fish pots were the least. He was a strong willed man. A man that stuck to his guns no matter the challenger nor the opponent. I recall visiting him at his bar on Union Street after school on Fridays and he would always offer me a bottle of Apple J or some of his fish tea. I never liked fish all that much but I had a little as he always insisted. My grandfather spoiled me. He was so dear to my heart. He, in a lot of ways, was more like my father than my grandfather. He always asked how I was doing in school he would always check in with my mother to find out if all was well with me. Though I didn’t know it then, he was really close to my mother and helped my upbringing in any way he could. I always remember the hats he wore, no matter where he went. Firm in discipline but a love that knew no bounds. His strength, I believe I have inherited and I am eternally grateful to have known him and to have loved him. His passing was a hard time for me. I remember him being hospitalized in his final days and when we went to visit him before his passing, he could not speak. He groaned and moaned so loudly, I remember being so afraid. I ran out of the hospital room in tears. An incident had happened between myself and some members of my family and I felt that we hadn’t gotten the opportunity to talk. I always had a pit in my stomach because of it. Attending his funeral was that much harder because of that. One thing I must say, love those that matter to you fiercely. Try to make peace as quickly as you possibly can because tomorrow isn’t promised. In this life, truly warmhearted people are few and far between. So when you are blessed enough to have them in your life, cherish them, nurture them, love them for you may not know when that moment with them will be your last.

Stay tuned for Pt II. My mother has truly been my rock, my foundation, my source of strength and my supporting tower through it all. In the next post I will discuss her influences. Feel free to drop me a line at apairofthirties@gmail,com or thecontentjamaican@gmail.com. Looking forward to discussing my becoming with you. Until then…

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