A 45 Year Marriage

Since it is Mother’s Day on my side of the World the plan was to blog about my mother and all the lessons she has taught me, but then something felt uneasy and weird about the day. My heart felt heavy and I attributed that to all the rain we are having today in New York City but then I went into my Google calendar to add an event and I realized that today is May 12th…May 12th!!!! My father died on May 12, 2015!

So that’s what it is! The heaviness in my heart was from that undeniable feeling of loss, I sometimes don’t even recognize. It’s weird, isn’t it? I know the anniversary of Daddy’s death was coming up and I had planned to honor him by writing about him in one of my blog posts on the actual anniversary of his death but I didn’t realize that this year the anniversary of his passing would coincide with Mother’s Day.

It doesn’t seem fair to write about my Mom on the anniversary of the day I lost the most formidable man I have ever known and it doesn’t seem fair to dedicate my blog post to my Dad on Mother’s Day. I could just cop out and not write at all since I am not feeling my best and let the sadness take over my day but I am way overdue a blog post so I have decided to write about them, both of them, and their marriage, instead.

I was one of the lucky ones, it wasn’t until I was in elementary school that I realized that not every household had a mother and a father. I had taken it for granted that all my peers were being raised by the people who made them but that wasn’t always the case. This fact made me appreciate my parents’ union more and more and when I became a full-blown adult going through my divorce I realized what it must have taken to stay married for the 45 years my parents were. They were lucky enough to be able to live their vows and did not part ways until the day my father transitioned into another World.

He had kissed her that morning, she said. He had kissed her on the morning of May 12, 2015, for the very last time. It was almost as if he knew he was leaving her forever on that day. My father had been really sick for the past few months and had become bed-ridden since February of that year when the Cancer had ravished his body so brutally his legs could no longer carry him and he was confined to a wheelchair.

My mother took care of my father like she always had during their 45-year union during those last few months of Daddy’s life, except, taking care of him in those last months was very different and more demanding than all the years put together because now she had to bathe him and sometimes even feed him and care for him in a way she had never done before. As she fed him breakfast that morning he motioned for her to come closer to him. When she did, he kissed her, he planted his lips squarely on hers, something he hadn’t done in weeks, maybe even months.

In retrospect, I am almost certain that that was his way of saying goodbye without alarming her. A way of saying good-bye, without letting her know that those were his final hours. My father was that kind of man. He was that old-fashioned kind of guy that would bear the brunt of pain, suffering, and difficulties by himself without unloading on anyone, especially his wife. In his eyes, his number one responsibility in life was to take care of his wife and his family despite whatever he was going through no matter how difficult the circumstances, without complaint; and take care of us, he did

Growing up we were never in want for anything, anything at all. My father was an excellent provider. The irony is that when they first got married my mother made more money than my father. She has often told me the story of how she had to apply for the loan on their first house because she had a nice, stable job as a civil servant with the Jamaican government and my father was merely a soldier in the Jamaican army. He was not making much money back then and would never be able to get a loan, but my Mom stepped up to the plate and did what she had to do to secure their mortgage.

That may have been the only time in their marriage that my mother had to step up financially because my father, who was a visionary, left the army a couple of years into their marriage, and with his keen sense of business and leadership qualities built a company from the ground up which had over a 100 employees on the day he died. He was a shrewd businessman, who knew how to take risks and turn over a dollar. He was driven, disciplined and determined and I admired that about him so much.

Isn’t that what marriage is about though? The willingness to step up and help your partner for the betterment of the union as a whole. My parents’ marriage wasn’t easy; I witnessed first hand a lot of compromises and sacrifices. It wasn’t easy but it worked and somewhere along the way they learned the art of compromise and didn’t view letting go and letting the other person “win” as one individual getting their way over the other.

One of the many things I admired about them was their ability to listen to each other – not just hear the other person but to listen. No doubt, my father was the head of the household but he listened to his wife. No important decision was made without her, even though he was the head. He was in charge but not above “taking counsel” from his wife. They complemented each other because they never competed with each other, they each had their individual role to play, which they did very well and happily too.

On May 12, 2015, a few hours after my father kissed my mother for the last time he took his last breath. It was his goodbye. He let himself go after she had left their bedroom. In those last days, she was with him all the time but not even an hour after she left the room at approximately 1:05 pm he let himself go. He took his last breath, knowing she wasn’t there, because in his own way he might have thought it best not to alarm her or not to let go in front of her and make an already sad situation even sadder.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the Moms out there, but especially to my Mom, who gave so much to her children and her husband. And to Daddy, the reality of your death has a way of striking at the most inopportune times, I still think it’s crazy how your larger than life persona was reduced to just a shadow of who you really are in the end. I will always remember you though as the strong, fierce, force to be reckoned with that you actually were. A man who loved his family, his wife and his children, more than anything else. A pillar in his community, a tower of sheer strength and determination. A real family man.

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