It was both a joyous and a sad occasion. I sat in the most picturesque of locations, on a seafront gazebo, the wind gently blowing in my face. It was hard, impossible to keep the tears at bay. At my cousin’s wedding reception, on a perfect day, I wept at the life that was growing further and further behind me. I was wholly unaware that I’d let three years past since my last trip to our family home. Jamaica.
As I grow older I’ve learned to avoid many situations that bring me prolonged emotional turmoil. In doing so I managed to distance myself from my childhood home. I’d locked away a large part of me while staying away, and upon my return I faced the rude awakening I’d avoided for years. The Jamaica that I’d known was a place that in many ways no longer existed and in other ways, was still right there in front of me. No matter how much I tried to hide it, Jamaica, rather, my grandparents were still home to me.
The tears were warm but they held nothing but pain. I watched life as it was pass me by. The grandparents whom I’ve cherished my entire life were now becoming frail. Life, the very one we relish in our youth, was now ushering in its twilight. I was angry. I was hurt that the things I’d foolishly taken for granted was starting to fade away. My grandfather was still the head of the family. Though his frame was now smaller, he still commanded the attention and respect of anyone in his wake. My grandmother, however was the most changed. She’d had a stroke and the woman who had always held me and wiped away my tears as a child was now distant and solemn.
It’s funny the tricks that life plays on you. Years go by without much notice and then, you’re awakened by all that you’ve missed, all that you’ve lost. I came back “home” and again I felt like a child. I was a child who could not be comforted. I was powerless to stop time from marching forward. I was helpless in my desire to rewind the clock and to restore my grandparents and the life I’d left behind. All I could do now was to hold them as close to me as I could. I looked into their faces, their eyes were very much the same. It still brought me pleasure to call their names, and I was still their only granddaughter. But now, I would be a shoulder they could lean on. Have I made them proud? Have I become the woman they’d hoped I would be?
We take so much for granted. We rely on what we have always known without the realized urgency of its always impending demise. We placate the advice given to us that warns us to appreciate what we have, and in its stead we live life without the necessary reflection. And for many, we realize it too late. I walked back from the seafront gazebo and stepped back into the reality I now faced. It was sadder and even a little bit unwanted but I still had them. I would always have them. And even as some memories continue to fade, the feeling of warmth, love, understanding and home will always remain.
This article appeared on page 5A in the 7/9/14 issue of The Union-Recorder.