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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By now you must have watched the HBO Documentary, Leaving Neverland. The documentary is essentially a 4-hour interview in which two adult males, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, describe being seduced and sexually molested by Michael Jackson, at the height of his stardom, when they were mere children.
I watched Leaving Neverland when it premiered last Sunday, I watched it again on Monday, and today, four days later, I still cannot get the graphic details of these allegations against Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, out of my head. To say I am troubled and disturbed by the allegations is putting it mildly. I am not one to get into celebrity gossip or stories or the like, but I simply cannot get the details of this controversial documentary out of my head and it has left me wondering about the veracity of these horrific accusations.
Both Safechuck and Robson alleges in graphic detail the sexual seduction and abuse they suffered at the hands of Michael Jackson when they were merely 10 and 7 years old, respectively; at the time Michael Jackson was a grown man in his 30s. The age difference is staggering and one can only label Jackson a pedophile, if, and I repeat if these allegations are true.
Safechuck met Jackson when he won the role of a lifetime playing opposite Jackson in a Pepsi commercial in 1987 when he was only 8 years old. His relationship with Jackson soon blossomed after that as the allegations purport that Jackson not only seduced the then 10-year-old Safechuck but also his entire family, including his parents. Jackson became “friends” with Safechuck’s mother and in Leaving Neverland, Mrs. Safechuck even describes how she regarded Jackson as one of her own children. She describes him as “a son” and talks about preparing meals for him, speaking with him on the phone daily for hours and having him over for dinner several times in their home. It was therefore relatively easy for her to say “yes” when Jackson invited them on a vacation to Hawaii and later invited the then 10-year-old Safechuck to tour with him on his Bad tour. It was also relatively easy for her to comply when Jackson requested, while on the vacation in Hawaii, that her 10-year-old son sleep with him (Jackson) in his room.
Robson, who was born in and resided in Australia, met Jackson when he was merely 5 years old after winning an Australian dance contest where he won tickets to Jackson’s concert followed by a meet-and-greet. Thereafter Jackson allegedly told Robson’s mother to look him up if she ever came to the United States, which she did 2 years later, and was miraculously able to get in contact with him; and remember this is in a day and age before the Internet. It makes you wonder if certain things were just meant to be, or this is what Robson’s mother believed.
Robson and his family were invited into Jackson’s home while on their stay in the US and again the allegations are that Jackson was able to charm Mom into agreeing to allow her then 7-year-old child to spend time alone with Jackson in his private bedroom.
Dan Reed, the Director of Leaving Neverland, goes back and forth with the camera as both Safechuck and Robson are interviewed for the documentary. He does extreme close-ups of both men’s faces as they describe in very graphic details the sexual acts performed with Michael Jackson when they were mere boys, at 7 and 10 years old. Truthfully, the entire thing made me shudder and it was extremely difficult for me to wrap my mind around the allegations. My gosh, they were not even teenagers yet (not saying that would make the allegations any less disturbing) but 7 and 10 years old! My gosh! They were mere babies!
Safechuck alleges that his sexual relationship with Jackson lasted from the ages of 10 to 14, while Robson states that his relationship with Jackson was on and off for 7 years from ages 7 to 14. The indication is given in the documentary that Jackson preferred it when the boys were very young and as they entered their early teens he abandoned his relationship with them for other younger boys. Robson even claims that he was replaced by child actor Macaulay Culkin of Home Alone fame.
It is interesting to note that Culkin has vehemently denied any inappropriate conduct from Jackson during the several years they “hung out as friends”. It is also interesting to note that Dan Reed, the Director, never bothered to interview Culkin or any other of the several children, who are now men in their 30s, who were always seen in Jackson’s company at the height of his stardom.
The premiere of Leaving Neverland has, of course, revived sexual abuse allegations made against Jackson in the past. In August of 1993, Evan Chandler, a dentist, accused Jackson of sexually abusing his 13-year-old son Jordon Chandler. Jackson vehemently denied the allegations and both Safechuck and Robson gave sworn testimonies in affidavits stating that Jackson is a wholesome person, a good friend, that never once touched them inappropriately. Jackson later settled out of court with The Chandlers for $23,000,000 (yes, that’s right 23 million) and in September 1993 the criminal investigation related to the Jordon Chandler case was closed.
There were similar allegations within the following decade made against Jackson which culminated in criminal charges being brought against him in January 2004 when then 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo accused Jackson of sexually molesting him. This time there was no out of court settlement and the case went to trial, a trial that lasted several months. One of the key witnesses for Jackson in this 2005 trial was none other than Wade Robson, who testified for days about the innocence of his friendship with Jackson.
Both Safechuck and Robson were adults in 2005 during Jackson’s sexual molestation trial, Robson, who was 23 years old at the time, testified under oath that Jackson never sexually abused him. Safechuck, who was 27 at the time, stated in the documentary that when Michael contacted him to testify on his behalf in 2005 he refused, told Jackson to never call him again and hung up the phone.
The fact that both Safechuck and Robson defended Jackson in 1993 when 13-year-old Chandler accused him of sexual molestation and misconduct and Robson again in 2005, defended Jackson, this time by taking the stand has many die-hard Michael Jackson fans questioning their credibility. There has also been talk about both men making the documentary for money. However, it has been postulated over and over again by Director Dan Reed, that neither man has been “renumerated” for telling his story.
Oprah Winfrey interviewed both Safechuck and Robson after Leaving Neverland aired and she asked a pertinent question of them both, “Why come forward now?”
Both men, who are now married with sons of their own, have essentially said it is because of their children. They are now watching their own children grow up and are motivated to tell the truth as they watch the innocence of their own children on display.
Safechuck has said “I want to speak the truth as loud as I spoke the lie. Michael made you feel like you did it, that it was all your idea, Then you look at your own kid, and for the first time realize, “What? That just makes no sense.”
Today I read on BBC.com that a statue of Michael Jackson has been removed from the National Football Museum in Manchester, England. I was a bit taken aback. I also read a few articles where radio stations are considering no longer playing Michael Jackson’s songs.
Jackson’s music has always uplifted me, admittedly it still did this week even after watching Leaving Neverland. Jackson is no longer alive to defend himself and it bothers me that these allegations are now being made when he should be resting in peace.
However, there is something about Safechuck, not so much Robson, but James Safechuck, as I watch him give his interview to Oprah that makes me believe him. His eyes are filled with pain, his face distorted in disbelief that he simply cannot believe he’s actually doing this, that he’s actually talking out loud about something he had vowed to take to his grave. You can almost tell that he takes no pleasure from all of this. He still talks about his “love” for Jackson and the fact that he “feels like he is letting him down”.
In all honesty, I don’t know what to believe about Michael Jackson anymore. I am a fan. In light of these horrible allegations will I remain a fan? Should we now shun the man, his legacy and his music because of a controversial documentary? Or should we separate the man from his art? What say you? Do you believe that the King of Pop was capable of such appalling acts, especially against children?
I am seated in a crowded airport waiting to get on my flight to JFK. I am tired and I am miserable. My flight has already been delayed more hours than I can count because of snow on the ground at home in New York. We were originally scheduled to leave at 6:15 pm, well it’s now 10:45 pm and we still have no idea when we will actually be departing. Not the most ideal situation for creativity and or writing but since I am committed to fulfilling my promise to participate in Reader Request Fridays I just pulled my laptop out of my carry-on and we shall now begin.
Thanks to all of you who took the time to ask me fun, interesting, provocative questions, some of the answers came to me quickly and easily, while others gave me food for thought. I was asked way more questions than I had anticipated, some of the questions even came from my Facebook friends and one Twitter follower, while others came from real life friends.
In the interest of brevity, I’ll be doing my Reader Request Friday responses in 2 parts, that is in 2 separate posts, I don’t want to make it too long and I especially don’t want to bore anyone so please note if you don’t see your question posted here this week, rest assured I’ll be responding to it in my next installment of Reader Request Fridays.
Without further adieu let’s get to the questions and, of course, my answers:
Reader Request Fridays was created by my fellow blogger the controversial https://bottomlesscoffee007.com, who provided me with the first set of questions to respond to:
Q1. I would like to hear the story of you growing up in the Islands.
I was born and raised in Jamaica. We were a typical middle-class family. We didn’t want for anything because my father worked hard and was able to more than adequately provide for his family. I am the eldest of my parents’ three children and I am the only girl.
My father, a former military man, was all about discipline and raised us in a very strict, rigid household with a thousand rules. My mother, on the other hand, was quite liberal in her parenting style (thankfully) so this kind of created a tolerable balance.
I think I might have been the toughest of the 3 children to raise since I was quite the opposite of everyone in my family. I was an extrovert growing up in a household of introverts. I always wanted to go out partying, socialize with the other kids next door, listen to all kinds of loud music with somewhat raunchy lyrics, namely Rock and Jamaican Dancehall, talk loudly and generally just hang out. My father didn’t think any of that behavior was very ladylike at all, so I just kind of kept in line so I wouldn’t get in trouble with him. Growing up I was very scared of my father. Truth be told I was still kind of scared of him even in my adult years, he was a no-nonsense kind of guy, who expected the best from his children, and I never wanted to disappoint him.
Q2. When and why did you move to New York and what was the transition like?
In the Summer of 1998, I was visiting New York and met a very, cool, confident guy that swept me off of my feet. We spent the entire summer hanging out and by the time I was ready to go back home to Law School I was in love. We did the long distance thing for a few years and every opportunity I got to come back to New York, during school breaks, he would send me an airline ticket. When I graduated Law School he encouraged me to move to New York to be with him so I did, much to my father’s displeasure. We later got married, had a child, then divorced.
Despite the divorce and circumstances that caused the divorce, I have no regrets about giving up my solid life in Jamaica and moving to NYC. I love living in New York and I enjoy being a mother, which I don’t think I would have been if not for my Ex, so zero regrets here.
The transition from Jamaica to New York was fairly easy, the only thing I had to get used to was the Winters; but I am so in love with Winter fashion; coats, knee-high boots, gloves, scarves etc., that not even the Winters bothered me much.
Q3. What do you miss about the Islands and how often do you go back there?
I miss my Mom, who still lives there. My Dad passed away a few years ago so in some strange way I miss him too.
I miss the food, the freshness of the food. The way everything tastes light and organic, as opposed to being heavily chemicalized or fertilized.
I miss the greenery, the lushness of the backdrop of the Blue Mountains as I drive through certain parts of the island.
I miss listening to our dialect every day. I also miss the very special way in which we (Jamaicans) create and invent new words all the time to perfectly fit any given situation and circumstance. Gosh, I love my people. 😂
I go home at least once a year. A trip I always look forward to.
Q4. Also, have you taught your children about the culture and traditions of the Islands?
Child – not children – just one. Yes, I most certainly have. My son has been going to Jamaica every year, sometimes twice a year, since he was only six months old. He will be 15, in a matter of weeks, and you can’t tell him he isn’t Jamaican himself. He understands the dialect and speaks it better than most American children born to Jamaican parents. He loves the food, the music and the dances, which he surprisingly does very well. My son has claimed Jamaica as his own and doesn’t like it when I refer to him as a “fareign pickney”. 😂
Q5. Do you spread spaghetti sauce all on top of your noodle or mix it all together?
Mix it all together.
Q6. What was your favorite snack as a kid? When did you last have it?
Chippies Banana Chips, which, of course, is from Jamaica. However, I find it in New York from time to time. I recently had some.
Q7. Do you have a monthly subscription box? If so, which?
Q8. What’s your favorite perfume?
Good ole classic Chanel No. 5.
Q9. Top pet peeves.
i) People who spit in public.
ii) People who act like they know everything.
iii) Unsolicited advice.
iv) People who talk during a movie.
v) Long recorded messages that ask you to press a thousand different numbers before you can actually talk to a real live person.
Q10. Do you own a dishwasher?
Yes. Believe it or not, I hardly use it though, I like doing my dishes the old fashion way.
Q11. What would the warning label to your life say?
Combustible! She goes from 0 to 100 in under 60 seconds.
Q12. If you could meet anyone who would it be?
Q13. What food can you absolutely not eat?
Frogs. I hear it’s a delicacy in some countries but I’ll pass.
Q14. If you weren’t in the profession you are in right now what would you choose to do for work?
A Writer, of course. It’s my dream to get paid for my writing.
Q15. If you could use one superpower for a day, which would it be?
Ha! I’d want to be invisible. Imagine the things you could find out if you were invisible. 👀
Q16. What allergies do you have?
Q17. Do you read magazines?
I use to but in this day and age of the World Wide Web, I don’t really read print magazines anymore. I use to have subscriptions to O (The Oprah Magazine), Essence, Cosmopolitan, and Parenting Magazine.
Q18. What has been your hardest challenge this month?
A particular case I have. Well, it’s not even the case, it’s really the client that has been challenging.
Q19. Do you have a Thanksgiving tradition? If so, what?
Not really. We usually eat Thanksgiving Dinner with another family at their house. I rarely ever host Thanksgiving, I did it once and I don’t think I want to do it again.
Q20. What’s something you do without realizing it?
Raise my voice. I do it out of excitement, annoyance or anger and don’t even realize it until I’m asked, “Why are you yelling?”
Q21. What would be in your self-care kit? Lip-gloss, mint-flavored gum, movie tickets, a pair of dumbbells, a great book and my debit card.
Red!!! I adore everything red. Red cars, red dresses, red sofas, red walls, red lipstick, red cell phone covers; I always go with red. All kinds of red; fire-engine red, apple red, brick red, wine red…Red! Red! Red!
Q23. If you could go to any play or musical what would it be?
Hands down Springsteen on Broadway; mezzanine tickets are going for at least $1,200 a piece. Of course, I can’t afford to go at those prices but oh how I wish I could.
I also have an interest in seeing Hamilton, another ridiculously priced Broadway play.
Q24. Who would you invite to a dinner party? Ahh, let’s see…
Serena Williams, and
Q25. Where would you like to vacation? I’d like to go to Egypt to see the pyramids.
Q26. Can you recommend any good books?
Of course! Here are some favorites:
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Defending Jacob by William Landay
A Time to Kill by John Grisham
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Stand by Stephen King
11/22/63 by Stephen King
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseinei
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Black Boy by Richard Wright
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
Q25. What pets do you have or would you like? I wasn’t blessed with a love for animals.
Q26. What types of music do you like?
I listen to just about anything but I do have an affinity for Rock, Reggae and Jamaican Dancehall. I even enjoy some of the rap music my son likes to listen to.
Q27. Did you enjoy school? If yes what subjects?
For the most part, I did. Favorite subject, hands down anything to do with English Langauge Arts; both English and English Literature were favorites of mine.
Q28. Were you ever a girl guide? Nope.
Q29. Do you like fun fairs? Yes, I like fairs. b) Favorite fair food? Cotton Candy.
Q30. Do you prefer wine or cocktails or soft drinks? I like red wine but I prefer a tangy tasting cocktail and if I opt for soda, it’s usually the diet version, like Coke Zero. My favorite drink is water though.
Q31. What would your favorite dinner be if you could pick anything?
Well, since I’m a carnivore I’d have to go with a porterhouse. Next up would be a nice roast chicken complete with stuffing.
Q32. Kiss, Kill, Marry; who gets what?
Kiss – Bruno Mars/ Kill – (I can’t think of anyone I want to see dead)/ Marry – Chris Hemsworth.
Q33. Is there anywhere in the US you’d like to live more than where you are now?
Nope! I love living in New York. I might opt to move around in different parts of New York but I really like it here. My favorite thing about New York is its diversity and inclusivity, all are welcome, everyone has a home here.
Q34. What TV shows do you like?
I like laugh out loud comedies. I’m a big fan of The Big Bang Theory, Black-ish, Modern Family and I always watch The Jeffersons re-runs.
I can also sit and watch endless hours of Law and Order.
Q35. What are your favorite clothes shops?
Lord and Taylor
Q36. Who is your favorite historical man and woman?
Bob Marley and Rosa Parks.
Q37. Do you prefer to fly or drive?
Flying gets you there quicker but considering that I am still waiting around in this damn airport after 7 hours of checking-in for my flight, I am not feeling flying right now. 😟
Q38. Baking is important to me. If I was to bake for you, what cake would you like me to make most?
I’d probably go with anything chocolate, with chocolate fudge and chocolate chips.
Me, right now, in the airport trying to get this Blog done.
I’ll just keep going until they call my flight – Up next we have questions from the illustrious Claudette over at https://writerofwordsetc.com
Q39. Favorite Bon Jovi song
The irony here is that my favorite Bon Jovi song wasn’t even done by Bon Jovi, the band, but by Jon Bon Jovi, as a soloist, when he recorded Blaze of Glory for the movie, Young Guns II.
My favorites from the band would be Bad Medicine and I’ll Be There for You.
Q41. Do you have a phobia or aversion to something?
I freak out around creepy, crawly, slithery things. The give me the heebie-jeebies.
Like you, Claudette, I went down the rabbit hole called the Internet and found out that my phobias have names – Ready for this? Entomophobia is the fear of one or more classes of insect while Ophidiophobia describes the abnormal fear of snakes, and herpetophobia relates to the fear of reptiles in general.
I suffer from all three.😒
Q40. Did you ever watch the Walking Dead and if yes do you have a favorite season or character? If no, why not?
So I got hip to the Walking Dead when it was already well on the way to becoming one of the most popular shows on television. Me being me tried to get in on the excitement and watched the first couple of episodes of Season One but I wasn’t feeling it. I thought the zombies looked fake and they weren’t scary, not that I like scary, but it just looked like a B-rated 90s Horror film to me. I couldn’t get into it.