Jamaican Man:: A Boy Speaks About His Father

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Papa: Sharing moments of my experience with him.

He is a man of great compassion, loving, caring, kind, and sensitive to the needs and well being of his children. I remember vividly as a child, over forty years ago, I was very ill; suffering from what then seems to be a never ending headache. Days upon days I suffered, I cried, I had not much appetite for anything, I could not sleep well. This to me was adding insult to injury, how much pain can a child bare? Excruciating, throbbing, pulsing, hurting and never ending. When I stand I had to do so slowly, when I sit, if I walk, I had to do the same, slowly.When I lie down or even turn in bed to get a few minutes intermittent sleep, which indeed it was a blessing for me, I had to do so, slowly, when I move mind eyes to the left, and right,up or down I had to do so slowly. Any sudden movement I make or hard impact I receive to any part of my anatomy, loud noise, seems to multiply a thousand times in my head, so much so it felt like my head would explode.

Papa would check up on me ever so often, Mama too, but mainly Papa. As I lay in bed he would with the back of his hand against my forehead test my temperature, “How you feeling?”,  he asked. My answer would be a groan of agony and pain. Home remedy was the order of the day for most common ailments in those days. Papa would reach for the (good old) Jamaican Ray and Nephew white rum eighty seven proof, expose my belly and back, pour out in the palm of his hand a little at a time, the content of the bottle and rub it gently all over my body, my head and my face, at which point I was ask to take a few sniff not a sip. Sniffing helps to clear up any stuffiness in the nasal passage as the strong vapor is inhaled. White rum is not only used as a recreational drinking, it is also used for cooking, baking, and a home remedy for all sorts of ailment including headaches, stuffiness, and fever. Papa made me warm tea from home grown pepper mint, sat me up in the bed and have me consume slowly and encouragingly, the warm content of the cup until it was done. The effects of the anointing with rum and the drinking of the tea, created a soothing effect which helps to dull the pain. Papa would sometimes sing for me and sometimes the birds in the trees outside sing for me too, to help me forget the pain, even for a moment. 

The nightingale  was sing in the Log Wood tree in the front yard near the corner of the house, Papa being the thoughtful, imaginative, and caring dad he is, came to me and said, “come listen to this bird sing”, he took me from  bed, gentle walked me to the veranda and  onto the front steps, pointed to the top of the tree where the sing bird was perched, sing melodies of sweet songs, so pure, so true, as if to say, I know you are ill and in pain and I hope my chirping will make you feel better soon. Papa could see the glow in my eyes and the smile on my face that wiped away the sadness. In the mind and heart of a child, a sick child, that was a sight and sound to behold, forever edged the consciousness of his memory, my memory, until the day I expire. After several days of suffering from the effects of my headaches I was able to overcome and recovered fully thanks to the unwavering care from Papa.

Other than being a model father, Paps was by profession a self employed lumberjack, we travel to the country parts and into the forest where he seeks out hard wood timber to be cut into board for the furniture industry. I remember the days as teenager, Paps and I would load up all the necessary tools of the trade—chain saws, axe, machetes, gas and oil for operating the chain saws, chains, and wire ropes into the truck for the day's trip to country. This would normally be on the weekends or on week days during the long summer break from school. Upon reaching the parts after driving over hills and into the valleys on the long and winding narrow Jamaican country roads, we would stop by the  fishing beach village to buy freshly caught fish to cook for lunch while in the woods. We would then drive to point of the wooded area where is was no longer possible to continue by vehicle, gather our stuff and continue by foot into the deep woods.

Along the way we would stop and rest, pick coconuts and grapefruits. The green coconuts were chopped open and the water, that cool water we drank to quench our thirst. Coconut water is very natural, tasty, deliciously—kind of sweet tasting, thirst quenching water. We would drink several of them in addition to grapefruits juice with pulp squeezed in a container and mixed with sweeten condense milk. If you had not have this concoction before, let me tell you it is something to die for—that sourer sweet taste mixed together. We drank whatever liquid that’s available and threw on the pulps as it entered our mouth. Gooood stuff.

Further along on our journey we reached our destination where papa would fell many hardwood nature trees he could. It was all fun and excitement for me to see and hear those trees falling and crackling to the ground. This kind of work was sometimes dangerous. Paps would make sure I was at a safe distance and in the opposite direction of the falling trees. Despite the danger it was always fun to be in the bushes helping Papa.

Thoughts:: Jamaican remedy-white rum, mint tea, bird singing, head rap with cloth, Papa rub with rum etc..., poor as we were growing up we , my siblings and I were never short of love and caring.

By I.D.

Last Updated on Sunday, 30 January 2011 10:47  

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Jamaican Quotes

"Come bad in de morning can't come good a evenin'"