‘Hi mr davis daughter wats up wid u girl? u know ur dad is very sick he is not working at all. Him don’t work since jan 4 2014 ok. He has his rent to pay and him clothes dem to wash. Him sick bad too ok. U can’t send him money? Him tell me seh a days him don’t eat ok so if you and ur mom can send a money for him today ok thanks?’ 2:23pm
‘who is this?’: 2:24pm
‘I don’t have no more credit ok its Andrea ok. Call him, cause him not even have money to buy credit to call u ok help him wid whatever u have its ur dad ok do wat u can.’ 2:29pm
‘Ok thanks.’ 2:34pm
That was a text message conversation on February 20, 2014. I was at work when I received it and I did everything I could to not pass out. Did she say my father hasn’t eaten for days? My diabetic, prostate cancer father, haven’t ate in days? Nawww, that can’t be right. I shared the message with Nikole and she knew I was fighting not to panic. It didn’t make sense to call him because having a conversation with my dad in a quiet environment is a nono. Meaning, I have to YELL and repeat every word and then I have to have him repeat everything I said to ensure he heard me correctly. So calling him right then and there was a no. I text my older sister Dionne (from my dad side) that lives down there and asked her if it’s true that daddy hasn’t worked in months and if he’s really backed up on the rent. She confirmed that all were correct. After work I went straight to the Pay O Matic and western union $250 to him, courtesy of Uncle Sam’s return. I didn’t need to ask my mom or sister Nikky (mom side) for help with this one. Then I purchased a $5 phone card and raced home. As soon as I got in I dropped my bag, kicked off my shoes and started dialing, all the while trying to quiet the little voice in my head that kept repeating that my dad has not eaten for days.
*a moment of pause as he deciphers which child is on the line*
‘Ohhhh sweet girl!!! How are you?’
‘DADDY I SENT $250 SO YOU CAN GO AND PICK IT UP.’
‘oh my gawd! Dunn dunn! Oh my gawd! Sweet girl thank you mon thank you! You know seh mi nah work? Mi owe di rent and-‘
‘WHEN LAST YOU ATE DADDY?’
‘When last mi eat?’
‘YES! WHEN LAST YOU ATE?’
‘Today is what Thursday?’ (my heart sank. Why is he not saying a couple hours ago?)
‘YES. TODAY IS THURSDAY.’
‘Okay, okay. Di last time mi eat was day before inna di mawnin.’
The tears rolled effortlessly down my cheeks. The way they are doing now as I’m typing this. I did NOT just hear my father say that the last time he ate was two days ago and that the last meal was breakfast. No! No, I did not hear that. Not the man that provided for me, my brother and sister. I never went a day in my life without eating. If I did and can’t recall, trust me it must’ve been by choice.
‘Hello? Sweet girl you there?’
I couldn’t speak. My voice was temporarily muted. I couldn’t cry and talk at the same time! That’s asking my mind to do too much. My father did not eat for two days and I already had breakfast, a snack, and a big lunch. For two days my father has not eaten.
‘Look like seh di phone cut off. Cho. Sweet girl? Dunn dunn?’
I took a deep breath and tried to keep the tremor out of my voice.
‘Sweet girl? You seh sumin? You here?’
‘Yes. I’m here.’
‘Mi nah hear you sweet girl.’
He chuckles. I like my daddy’s laugh.
‘Okay okay good. Thought mi de lose you for a second.’
‘GO AND PICK UP THE MONEY AND BUY YOURSELF SOME DINNER.’
‘I’ll get it in the morning.’
‘The place close down already.’
Well my brain scrambled to make sense of what I was hearing. Then I looked at the time and felt guilty. I had no reason to but you know how the ego works. Why did I think these places close late or are 24hrs. It’s not the same in Jamaica. Damnit! I should’ve sent it while at work. How? There’s no western union near there. I don’t understand why they charge $25 just to send online!
I got off the phone with my dad but I was able to gather some information. His rent is $14,000 JA which is $150USD. I learned that Dionne shares her Sunday dinner with him. Apparently he meets up with her every Monday and it looks like he tries to stretchhhhh the food as much as he could which explains why the last time he ate was on a Tuesday. He’s not working because ‘he’s too old and looks too frail.’ That broke my heart even more and the tears were no longer just flowing they were pouring. The dam broke. I called my friend KD but he couldn’t understand a word I was saying because I was crying and trying to talk and let’s face it. Men are just not good at interpreting the cry-talk language. I told him I’ll text him. That was the only thing he understood. I called my mom and she quickly understood what I was saying. Every time I think about the fact that he won’t eat tonight my stomach did flip flops. I tried explaining this to my mom and she assured me he will eat tonight. I’m very good in a panic situation but for this one I couldn’t think and I was grateful to have someone take over. The first thing we needed was credit to make some phone calls. My sister put credit on my phone which I didn’t understand how until later when my brain re-wired itself. Then the phone calls began. (via Black 01 aka Boss Revolution. It beats buying a phone card. It’s so handy! Check it out. www.bossrevolution.com)
Long story short my uncle had just finished cooking and he was running us off the line so he could put a bowl together. His girlfriend was around and he hopped a ride and dropped off food for my dad. He got steam fish and bread. Yo, that’s big man dinner! J I was able to breathe better after receiving the text that he dropped it off. Crisis averted now it was management mode. My uncle informed us that my dad really looks bad. He’s more hunched over and a lot more frail than we last saw him. To hear my uncle confirm this, brought tears once again to my eyes. My dad had mentioned that his biggest stress is his rent. Not being able to work and when the 30th of the month draws closer and closer he gets nervous and more stressed. He said he stays out till late just to avoid running into his landlady because he feels bad running into her knowing that he can’t come up with the rent.
How do we eliminate him paying rent? Oh yes! He owns a house that he BUILT where my brother, his girlfriend and two children now lives. He can move down there.
HA! Let the family drama unfold people.
Let me give you a little background into my family. I have an older brother and sister from my mother side. I have two older brothers (one lives in Long Island NY), an older sister and five youngsters after me. That means my father have nine children. Three of them are passed the age of forty. Therefore, there should be no reason for this diabetic man to go two days without food right?
More will be revealed when I write my book but for now, know that I am the only one my father has financially. My father built a nice home in Spanish Town. My mom hated the location with a passion. It was a nice home but it was the ghetto. She was back and forth to the US for some time but officially immigrated to the US in 1993. I immigrated here in 1995. Well the baby of the house (me) isn’t there, so my dad went about his business leaving the house to my brother and then pregnant sister, Andrew (22 at the time) and Nikky. Nikky came to the States five years ago. My loving brother changed over the years and he separated himself from us. We don’t even have a number for him. When my uncle said he’ll call him, we were relieved.
Word came back that my brother was sad to hear that my dad who raised him since he was four years old is slowly perishing away and of course he come live down there and he’ll call my uncle back.
STOP IT! I saw your eyebrows raised at that. I know what you were thinking. Why should it be that permission had to be sought when my dad lawfully still owns the land and house? Just go with the flow people. Just go with the flow. Two weeks passed and nothing. Time is ticking and I was trying to avoid sending $150 for my dad’s rent. My uncle suggested that my dad go down to the house. He did but my brother wasn’t home. The girlfriend called him on the phone and they chatted. The conclusion was he can come anytime. Wonderful!
My dad, excited that he finally won’t have to stress himself about rent sounded so much stronger and cheerful! Not to mention that I was checking up on him making sure he was eating. He told me he would need $8000 JA to get a moving truck and I sent it.
Days later, I exited the train station and saw that I had a voicemail. Maybe I have a touch of OCD or whatever the correct term is but I can’t see a text, whatsapp, voicemail, email or any icon on my phone and not check it to clear it. It IRKS my nerves to see it just sitting there. It was a message from my dad asking me to call him back and he sounded angry. Now, I’ve only known my dad to be upset one other time and that was the time he beat me (we were all laughing at him. It was like a feather landing on my skin compared to the licks I used to get from my mom) for constantly kicking my cousin off my bed. Don’t you look at me like that! My mom taught me not to share and so I saw no reason why he couldn’t sleep in the couch instead of with me on my queen size bed. Hmph! Moving along.
I returned the phone call instantly (no more buying phone card. Thanks Boss Revolution!). Well, well, well! Come to find out that my dad was ready to move. Truck ready and everything. He went to the house early to get a copy of the key only to be told that ‘there’s no space’ for him but if he wants he can ‘build a room onto the house.’
Those of you who knows what’s been going on KNOWS that I saw more than red and that more than steam were coming through my ears and that God did not exist in those moments. I wanted to fly to Jamaica and grab my brother’s locs and do all sorts of evil to him and everyone in that house. Yes, I said everyone. I was seeing RED I tell ya. RED! I cuss so much badwords it wasn’t funny. I’m not sure in that moment what got me more upset. The fact that someone made my calm, collective, father upset or the fact that my brother was turning away the man that IS more of a father to him than his real father. I’m quite sure he can count on two fingers how many times he saw his father. Who fed him? Clothed him? Paid for the hospital fees when he was sick? Who put him through school to make him the engineer of the bus company down there? MY DAD! Who built the bloody house you, your two children and girlfriend living in? MY BLOODY FATHER! Mamasay mamasa mamakusa. Woosa. WOOSA! Needless to say if I was in Jamaica…anyway jumpsuits aren’t flattering on me but orange do bring out my complexion.
I’m sure you have several questions and several suggestions. Know that I may have my moments when I see red but then I start seeing clearly. I don’t like to fight. I don’t like to argue. I like peaceful solutions. Know that I’ve racked my brain and have talked this over with several people for ideas. The current solution is that I am now 100% financially responsible for my father. Oh I’ve cried. Screamed out that it’s not fair. That he has nine children and why has it been only me since I was sixteen. What did I expect? I’m the only one that remembers his birthday so why am I surprised that I’m the only one concerned about a roof over his head and food in his tummy? I’ve cursed that my current salary and lack of savings can’t support us. I mean $35k a year minus rent, minus debt, minus metrocard, minus food and now minus $310 ($150 for his rent, $150 for food for the month and $10 to send the money) a month. First of all I don’t have $300 to spare but thankfully Nattydread has offered to help. She was horrified to hear what’s been going on and has been dutifully sending me $50 a month to make up the $300. I then sat in front of my budget and significantly reduced how much I put towards my bills. Meaning I’m now paying the minimum amount on all my bills which means the balance will not be going anywhere. But hey my dad needs to eat. Like I told KD last Thursday, if I call him and beg for a Ramen cup soup, don’t just buy me one, buy a whole pack and I like all the flavors except beef and I really like the chicken creamy one. He laughed, but I wasn’t joking.
When I sent some money down to my dad on April 4th I felt something let go within me. I was angry that I’m responsible for this man when he has other children. I was angry that I finally had my ducks in a row in regards to my bills and I was paying them off nicely and BAM a dent into my plans and not to mention being angry with my brother. After I called my dad to tell him go pick up some money and hearing the relief in his voice, I felt something let go. I had this feeling that everything will be okay. And it will. It will.
That’s a big portion of what’s been happening with me. It caught me by surprise that I didn’t write anything for March. Then I remembered all this mess was the reason. My nephew is still with me. *GASP* I KNOW RIGHT! But that’s another family issue that I won’t be going into but I’m enjoying every minute of him being with me. A lotus grows in the mud right? I’m very happy he’s here because he’s been keeping me grounded. Right now he’s sprawled out in the bed sleeping with all four pillows surrounding him. Cracks me up! Now, he has me jogging three times a week! As Nikole said, I need to remind him that he’s the only one joining the Navy boot camp. He thinks he’s slick. He’s an athlete and there’s no reason for him to start ‘training’ a whole three months before going to boot camp. I’ve been complaining about my back fat and just no motivation to workout. When he asked if I wanted to join him to go running in the mornings of course I said yes. No way am I going to let him go jogging in the early morning on my turf *horrified expression* by himself. *biting nails* What if something happens? What do I tell his mother? No wayyyyyy, I’m going with him to keep my eyes on him. That was my rationale and I’m sure he knew that. So we jog three times a week. Anyway, Easter is coming up and a little birdie told me that my sister left bun and cheese (Jamaican traditional Easter meal) by my mom’s house for me. I’m looking forward to wolfing that down come Good Friday! *rubs hands together, mouth waters* I LOVE BUN AND CHEESE (the Jamaican brand)!
Also, I have a vacation coming up. I NEED THE BREAK! Stay tuned for that.
I know we all go through things. We all have our problems. Please, please remember to be optimistic and know that things will work out. I know some folks hate that saying that ‘everything happens for a reason’ but it really does. Everything does happen for a reason. You may not see the reason now or tomorrow but it’s a lesson for you and it’s a part of your journey. Hang in there my friend. Lotus from mud.
Happy Easter! Stay Blessed. Love,