I was relieved when my father died. I remember the Saturday in April 2009. It was sunny, Boys’ and Girls’ Champs was on TV and I was delaying going home to Manchester to see my sick father. He’d been sick for a long time, and although I started going to see him every weekend, it was getting harder and harder to go to downtown Kingston to take the bus to see a man I no longer recognised as my father.
My father no longer had his mischievous smile; he no longer cast judgement on the church people he always said were no closer to God than he was; he no longer spoke to me about saving and the importance of owning property. My father had abandoned his pet subject- politics. No longer did I have to endure hours of him telling me how ‘Manley mash up the country’ or how much was a pound of rice under the JLP government versus the PNP. He was no longer listening to Motty Perkins and saying how much truth he spoke. He was no longer the Jack of all trades busy from sun up to sundown.
My father no longer played his records, no Prince Buster, no Skeeter Davis. Most of all, there were no longer any goodbye hugs and him telling me he loved me based on his philosophy that his children must never leave him without being assured of his love.
So, on that April morning in 2009, I was again delaying my trip to see a man who had become a shadow of himself, but who I felt compelled to visit knowing each trip home could be the last time I saw him. And when I got the news he had died that day, I layed back in bed, relieved. Relieved to see his suffering had ended, hopeful he would know it had. Relieved he would no longer have to endure his worst fear- a slow death.
And so on this early morning of February, 2016, thoughts of my father have jolted me out of bed, way before the sun has gathered enough strength to fight off the darkness. Thinking of those times we played his records together, of how he begged me when I was 10 years old to call him ‘daddy’, yet I never did, of that time he accidentally ran the car over my foot and apologised and hugged me so hard I felt sorry for him, of that one time in my life he told me no, of him trying to teach me to swim and my not learning. I think of those times my mother would complain to him of some transgression of mine and how in her presence he would tell me to obey her, then as soon as she left the room he would whisper conspiratorily that my mother was indeed ‘miserable’, but I should still listen to her.
I think on all these things and I want to have one last conversation with him. How is he doing? Would he still be voting for Labour this year? Is he proud of the woman I have become?