Growing Up Like A Jamaican - De Time Is Shawt But I'm Grateful for De VisitPublished Oct 31, 2009
The following is excerpted from my book: "How To Raise Your Child Like A Jamaican (Life lessons my parents taught me)". A book preview can be found at: http://www.dahliadwelsh.com
On November 2008 Stafford Llewelyn Samuels, my last living grandparent, passed away. I miss our talks on the veranda and the sound of his deep baritone voice thickly laced in patois as he recounted stories from his past, barked out orders and cracked jokes.
In the summer of 2008 we went to Jamaica to help grandpa celebrate his 93rd birthday. We treated him to a restaurant in St. Elizabeth and took him on his favorite tourist activity, taking the boat up and down Black River. I was always amazed at how strong grandpa seemed even for his advanced age. His mind was also very sharp, which he demonstrated as he counted all the money he received for his birthday. Grandpa didn’t want gifts - just money - so that he could pay for his own burial. After my grandmother died in 1999 he asked how much her funeral cost and since that day he had begun saving for his own passing. During our visit that summer he told my mother, “I may not have all of the money fi bury me so hopefully you can make up the rest.”
I suppose grandpa knew he would die soon because he had a cousin take a picture for his funeral program the year before and he kept telling people he was going to get married again. We thought he was off his rocker, literally, until we realized that he meant that when he died he would be with my grandma and that they would be ‘married’ again.
I always hated leaving my grandparents at the end of a visit because I didn’t know if they would be on the veranda waving hello the next time I arrived. After the birthday trip everyone packed into the car to leave but I stayed in Grandpa’s room hugging and kissing him enough for a lifetime. Even as warnings of being left behind were shouted from down below I just couldn’t, wouldn’t let him go and then grandpa said something that calmed my fears and let me know it was okay to leave. He said, “De time was shawt but I am grateful for de visit.” And I realized that no matter how long I stayed with him whether it was a day or a year it would never be long enough.
At his funeral I went to look at my beloved grandfather one last time and slip a little money into his pocket for the journey – grandpa hated leaving the house with an empty wallet. As I tucked the bills into his breast pocket I could have sworn grandpa was smiling, in fact I know he was smiling. Grandpa was happy to be going home to the Lord, to his wife and I suppose to get some long deserved rest.
Bless up! Dahlia