I sat in the boys’ room early Monday morning before I left for work to let them know that they would be having a sitter for the day. Trey was excited. “Is it Shay?” He asked, Thinking it was their favorite sitter Shay, who has been their sitter since they were born. “No, it’s Papa,” I said, trying to drum up some excitement in my voice. It didn’t work. “I don’t like Papa babysitting us!” 5-year-old Treyton said with a pout. “He just sits there and don’t let us do anything fun!” He added. I tried to explain that Papa was fun but with a serious voice Trey added, “Even Grandma doesn’t like him!” “Oh really, Treyton?” “Yes, I am serious, Grandma doesn’t even like him!” Nuff said kiddo.
Last Thursday marked ten years since Amie and I exchanged vows in front of friends, family and Father Henry in an old Anglican Church. I am not sure if it was a hot day or I was just sweating because it was a BIG day. Let me take you back…
As I waited in church for my bride to make her appearance, my Attention Deficit Disorder kicked in. I started to think, Do you really know what you are doing? Is she the one? What if she’s late? Or worse, doesn’t show? Who is that man/woman? Can’t remember inviting so many people. Why are black on one side and whites on the other? What if I faint? I have heard of grooms fainting. Oh here she comes…
I didn’t faint and I didn’t forget my lines. Everything went perfect and it is still the best day of my life in every way. Throughout those years, we have experienced a lot. Three homes, three kids, one for each house, two dogs, eleven International students, one Foster son, trips, sadness, joys and pain and illness scares. So many things have happened in that ten years that I ask, ‘Where has the time gone?’
As we celebrate what passed, we look ahead forward to the future. The uncertainties, plans coming to fruition… It’s a journey with a lot of blind corners but with my very able and capable co-pilot with me, we will navigate through whatever obstacles lie in our way.
Happy Anniversary baby cakes!
Note: Last week, my grandmother hit another milestone. She tied her own mother in terms of longevity. I spoke to her for her birthday and she boasted that she is the eyes of her daughter, my aunt Ermine. “I still does thread the needle my boy.” She related. “I do the reading for Ermine too because her eyes not too good.” To commemorate her birthday, I dug up this blog that I wrote when she turned 100. Here’s hoping that Nenny lives to see many more birthdays in good health. What a blessing!
Nenny, as my grandmother is affectionately called by her children, grandchildren and villagers alike, celebrates her 100th birthday today, June 22nd. No one in the family is surprised. After all, her mother, my great grandmother, lived to 103. Up until the day that she died she was still gardening and tending to her bananas and other crops. Nenny is healthy for the most part and walks about 3 miles to church every Sunday.
I have many treasured memories of Nenny as a kid. Her story telling was legendary among her grandchildren. No one could bring a story to life like Nenny and even though we requested them nightly, we would still get the chills and cower in fright as she told us a jumbie, (ghost) story about some dead person coming back to avenge their untimely death. Our favorites were the stories told about a cunning spider called Brer Anancy who would tricked the other animals to get whatever he wanted. They were appropriately called Nancy stories. Every Caribbean kid fortunate enough to have a grandparent tell them these stories, loved them. We never got tired of hearing how Brer Anancy tricked Brer fox. Nenny would also share her growing up stories with us and we enjoyed sharing in her memories just as much as she obviously enjoyed sharing them.
Some nights, Nenny just wanted to sleep but us kids had other plans for her. We would beg and beg until we finally learned how to trick her into telling us a story. One of us would start re-telling one of her favorite stories and intentionally messed it up. Nenny would get so annoyed at this that she would interrupt with ‘That not how it goes!” “It is!” We would reply. “How does it go then?” She would then correct us and before she realized it, would be deep into telling the story. We would look at each other and smile conspiratorially.
Coupled with her penchant for telling stories and a hard worker, Nenny also possessed one of the most colorful vocabularies of anyone I know, complemented with a great set of lungs. She could cuss you out in any shade you prefer and it could be heard for miles. (Apparently, this is something she inherited from her mom and maybe a secret ingredient to long life). Her use of profanity was also well known and shyness was not one of her weaknesses. Young, old, black, white, rich or poor, no one was exempted. (The poor Governor). If one of us did something wrong, Nenny would verbally tear a strip off us, dropping F- bombs like it was Hiroshima all over again. Even though she never hesitated to go ballistic on us, she would not tolerate anyone else taking the same liberties. No way! Not her grand kids. If Nenny called us idiots, don’t mistakenly think you could too. Many learned that lesson the hard way. Nenny never hesitated to put on her fighting gloves and go to war for us.
Nenny had her own quotes for everything. “Bwoy, ah way oil ah oil yo?” was often used when I was misbehaving. It simply meant, ‘Boy, what is the matter with you?’ “Play Play does bring belly” meant that too much playing could result in someone getting pregnant. “Leave me ah Jesus feet” was one she used to tell us to leave her alone. “Yo ah a watch me like how Johnny ah watch town basket” was one I never quite figured out. I know Johnny but not exactly sure what a ‘Town Basket’ is.
I remember Nenny would accompany us to dances and fetes and wait outside until they were over then walk us home. She would bring a flashlight to guide us through the pitch-black darkness of the 3 mile walk home. We would never get embarrassed by her escort. Well except for this one time when my cousin took too long to leave the dance hall and Nenny asked the doorman to let her in and walked around the dance floor looking for my cousin. She found her slow dancing and untangled her from her partner and escorted her outside. That was Nenny.
In her 90’s, my grandmother detested clothing that made her look her age. “Yo tink me old!” She would often say when we tried to dress her in age-appropriate clothing. She wore high heels and dresses and enjoyed the comments from her fellow church goers on how young she looked in her stylish attire. She would often comment, “Did you see sikkay bikkay ah wear de same frock like mine?” (Sikkay Bikkay was her code for anyone whose name she didn’t want to say). Yes, but you wore it better, Nenny, even though she was more than half your age.
Nenny is the consummate matriarch of the family. She is like the queen on her throne. the family revolve around her. It’s a blessing when someone lives to see 100. It’s an even bigger blessing that in my 40’s, I still have my grandmother alive and well. Incidentally, both my grandmothers are alive.
Nenny, thanks for all the stories and memories. We hope that you will stick around for a few more birthdays. Today, you will be in the presence of the Governor General and other dignitaries so please use restrain. As you would tell us when we talked too much, ‘Piece ah yo tongue war clip!’
Happy 100th Birthday Nenny!! Say hi to Sikkay Bikkay for me.
While watching playoff hockey yesterday, Kenyan surprised me by saying he wished he had a broken leg. I am used to this 6-year-old coming up with weird things but had no clue where this one was going. I had to ask.
“Why do you wish for such a thing, Kenyan?” I asked. He explained. “Well if my leg was broken, girls would come up to me and go ‘awww, so cute’ and they would be into me.” Seriously son? Your daddy was a lady’s man and all but at your age, I literally was afraid of the fairer sex. I was in double digits before I started thinking of them as anything but nuisances. You are 6 years old, what do you know about ‘being into you’?
Kenyan insisted that he would like a broken leg and nothing I said could change his mind. Not even telling him how cute he was even without a broken leg. Son, you are only 6. The girls are not going anywhere. And even if they were, it’s not worth getting a broken leg for.
Sometimes they do say the darnedest thing!
In the excitement of getting Reilly, our new dog, here, I almost forgot about my new friends in the basement. The fish! A friend of my mom’s retired and wanted to vaction to Jamaica on a regular basis. She didn’t see how she could maintain her aquarian remotely as there is no app for that just yet, so she offered it to me! For Free!
When I went to pick it up with my friend who is an aquarium fish connoisseur himself, we both thought we would be getting a cheap looking freebie but were pleasantly surprised. There were two sucker fish, (Plecos) that are basically tank cleaners and two lively blah blah fish. (I forgot what they are called).
The poor fish were the stars of the home for just a couple of days, then Reilly came and they were relegated to bottom feeders. Plus, being basement dwellers is not really being in the spotlight, is it?
Last weekend, Reilly, formally O’Reilly, came to live with us, adding to the chaos of the Walcotts’ home. She is one of those dogs you fall in love with at first sight and that’s exactly what happened when we saw her on the dog rescue and foster website, Manitoba Underdogs.
We had been searching online for that ‘perfect’ dog. One that would fit our family dynamics. We are a fun family so the dog had to be a bit high-spirited and full of energy. We visited a foster care home to check out some potential dogs and while we were waiting for an appointment for a follow-up home visit, we saw Reilly.
Reilly had a look-alike brother, Begley. They were so cute together that I would have taken them both if I could. When she came home, we sat as a family to decide on a name for her. After trying on more than a few names, we figured that Reilly without the ‘O’ fitted her just fine.
I am not used to untrained dogs that poop and pee all over my castle, so obviously it’s a learning and accepting experience for me. So too is waking up at weird hours of the night to attend to Miss Thing. One of the most frustrating is when I take Reilly outside to relieve herself. She is so excited being out that she wants to play and nothing else. Then as soon as she comes in, she promptly squats on my linoleum and do her thing! Is there a warranty on this thing?
Reilly is a lab so she chews and nips all the time. It’s hard to play with an energetic pup that nips everything that moves and apparently this behavior lasts up to 2 years! Woe is me! Good news is, she is getting better at sleeping through the night in her kennel which I’m very thankful for.
I think I know why they called her O’Reilly…Oh Reilly!