Ten Years Already?

Oh Happy Day!

Oh Happy Day!

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!

House #1

House #1

House #2

House #2

House #3

House #3

3 handsome boys

3 handsome boys

I said 3 handsome boys!

I said 3 handsome boys!

Lots of fun times!

Lots of fun times!

Fun times!

Fun times!

Still together!

Still together!

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Memories Of My Centenarian Granny, Part II

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.

Nenny, (left) and her daughter

 

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Goodbye Uncle Rolly

Uncle Rolly was a good man. Great with the kids even though he had none of his own and just fun to be around.  I first met him when we took a family road trip out to Beautiful British Columbia some years years.  It was my first time out that way and it was very memorable.  Some of those moments were spent with Uncle Rolly.

He was Amie’s uncle but treated her more like a daughter than a niece. We enjoyed being around Uncle Rolly so much that we seriously thought of packing up and moving closer to him, especially since he had split up from his wife and moved to Vernon, living all alone.  On our last visit in the summer of 2014, he tried very hard to sell us on the idea of moving. Even offering to help us with the down payment.  We were leaning towards the idea but then I got a great job and it went on the back burner.  Temporarily.

Unfortunately, mere months after we left him, Uncle Rolly was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.   How was this possible?  When I first met him, he introduced me to some healthy options.  Eating oatmeal and blueberries daily plus fresh fruits and vegetables but here he was, stricken, with no regards to his healthy lifestyle.

Rolly was determined to beat this illness.  He promised Amie that he would but we feared the worse.  The worse came early on Monday morning.  Uncle Rolly was down for the count.  A good man, brother, uncle, friend.  Gone but not forgotten.

Goodbye Uncle Rolly, rest in peace.  We will miss you. A lot.

 

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Don’t Break A Leg Son

DSC_1720While 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!

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Our Other Basement Dwellers

20150325_063419In 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?

 

Related:

Bitten and Spitten By Reily

 

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He Wasn’t My Dad But He Was My Father

carlos, sheldon and dad

Hanging with the old man at St. Vincent Carnival 2004

Today, the man who was my father passed away.  During his illness I had a chance to talk to him like a son.  I never mentioned or asked why he wasn’t my dad. It didn’t matter so much anymore.  What mattered was that he was dying and I was presented with a chance to talk to him.  In death, more was accomplished than in life.

I wished my father could have met my lovely family.  Wished he could have seen his three grand-kids and how special they are.  I am sure he would have been proud.  I wished we could have had just one day to sit and talk about stuff. Just stuff.

My father is at rest now and in a way, so am I.  I am planning to travel to England to attend his funeral and pay my last respect to the man who was my father but couldn’t be my dad.

RIP Old Fella!

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Bitten And Smitten By Reilly

wpid-wp-1428192339558.jpegLast 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.

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Excitement all over his face!

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?

A boy and his dog will soon tire after play

A boy and his dog will soon tire after play

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!

wpid-wp-1428192394768.jpeg

Oh Reilly! Oh Reilly!

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After All He’s Still My Dad

I thought I hated my dad.  Sure I had forgiven him for being a deadbeat dad and running out on my mom, leaving her with 3 kids to take care of on her own.  I had gotten over the times I felt more like an acquaintance than a son when I happened to be around him. Yes, I still thought I hated him.  Forgiven but not forgotten.

I vowed that his demise, however it came, would be met with a shrug.  I would not show emotions and I would not care.  That’s what I thought, but it’s not really who I am. I didn’t know that. I thought his sins were too great to overlook. I was wrong.  I thought his continued stubbornness was too much to ignore. How could he not take advantage of the opportunities to make up?

When I first heard that my dad was hospitalized, I thought ‘So what? Poor fella but you reap what you sow’.  I was told that he actually asked about me a few times to which I responded incredulously with, “He actually knew my name?”  A couple of days ago, I received a text from my brother that the old man had taken a turn for the worse. and might make it.  He was dying? Like dying? No more daddy? Slowly my barrier came down like the Berlin wall.  We are talking about my dad here! Sure he did a jerk thing but he did do one thing right, he sired me.

So here I was, shredding my stored up daddy-hate like a snake shedding its skin. Death and dying have a way of bringing people together, putting aside differences to share a common emotion. Hearing about my Dad’s fate helped me to unload the baggage I was carrying around that was filled with anger and hurt.

My brother apparently finds it easier to let go of the past and has taken a week off work to travel to London to be at his Dad’s bedside.

My thoughts and prayers are with the old man at this time because after all, he’s still my dad.

 

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Son, ignore the lyrics and dance your little heart out!

On Wednesday, I took Kenyan to his first break-dance class.  As it was his first, I decided to stick around. Ok, I lied, I didn’t want to stick around, I wanted to leave, go shopping, wash the car, have a coffee, then go back and get him but the other kids’ parents were all bent on staying so who was I to buck the trend? How bad of a parent would I seem if I left my 6 year-old in the care of a break dancing teenager? So I reluctantly gladly stayed.

The dance instructor was good at break dancing but I’m not sure if he was good at teaching how to break dance, but who cares? The kids were having fun and seemed to like it.  On the sidelines, I was bobbing and rocking the heavy rap beat of the music.  Until I heard it.  The ‘N’ word.  There it was again! The ‘N’ word and the ‘A’ word. I looked around uneasily at the other parents to see if they too heard it but they seemed oblivious. So I ignored it.

Unfortunately, it was the only song the instructor was going to use so I had to endure it over and over and over again. ‘N’ word, ‘N’ word, ‘A’ word, ‘N’ ‘A’…By now I was debating whether or not to stop the class. “Hey dude! Your song is inappropriate for the kids! Turn it off! I’m taking my son home, you classless punk!” But I didn’t. I decided to see him about it at the end of class.

I quickly became desensitized and was double thinking by decision. Plus, the other parents were still in a fog. Probably couldn’t understand a word of the song anyways. Then Mikhail interrupted my thoughts. “Daddy, the song has bad words!” “What! Where? Who…?” Mik pointed out the instances in the song that had the questionable words. “What should I do Mik?” I asked. “Do you think I should tell him about it?”  He nodded “Yes, it’s not good for the kids.”

And that’s why at the end of the class I approached the break dancing teenager-instructor and suggested he previewed his music before playing them at his class. He took it well and Mik and I felt better for having instructed the instructor. Oh, he also added that he chose the music while in school and never really got a chance to listen to it completely. tut tut little man. A good teacher plans his lessons and saves himself from looking like a fool.

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That Aha! Moment

Sometimes doing homework with the boys could make for a very frustrating time. What makes it worthwhile are the ‘aha! moments’.  I particularly love to do reading homework with the boys, partly due to my own penchant for reading.

Kenyan is a distracted reader, he would say a word that is not even remotely close to the actual word phonetically.  Or worse yet, we would work for 5 minutes on a problem word until he was comfortable with it only for him to draw a blank when he sees the word on the next page.

When Kenyan comes across a word he doesn’t know, I would let him read the passage again slowly and try to say the word that he thinks makes sense in the context it is used. Sometimes while doing this, he would suddenly stop and go ‘ohhh….’ then read the sentence with the correct word.  Looking at his eager, excited and proud face, makes it all worth it.

It really doesn’t take much for our kids to make us happy.  Pity they don’t know this…

 

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