A Man Like No Other

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Primary Blog/Most Popular/A Man Like No Other
truth about Fatherless Men


American DreAm

It was 2011, and I was already burnt out from living the American dream which was slowly starting to feel like a nightmare. Here I was in the greatest country in the world but the only thing I wanted to do was leave. I wanted to be away from the school system, the 9 to 5 which was 3 to midnight for me. School, work, and adulthood had already taken its toll on me and I was barely even an adult. I couldn't stand it anymore, the dream was slowly killing me emotionally, physically and spiritually.

So I did what scared me the most to do; I washed my hands and gave it all up. I left it all behind. I didn't know where I would go or where I wanted to go. The world was mine. I wasn't running, instead I was trying to find a place where I could slow down and breathe. A place where I could take a time out from 'life' or at least, what people were calling life. I needed peace, and stillness. I needed to rediscover the calmness that seemed to have eluded me.

It was there in that place that I met him. Him, being the best man I've ever known. The first time he saw me he looked at me and gave me a big smile and a welcoming hug.

"Welcome Simone, it's good to have you here!"

My soul felt his genuineness. I innately knew he meant exactly what he said. He was as transparent as they come and I felt a certain calmness being in his presence. But this was not the first time I had met him.

Gratitude

I had met him once before, many moons ago. But somehow he wasn't as memorable.

Later in the afternoon as I sat on the veranda by myself, he came and sat next to me. And, again, he gave me that genuine smile that seemed to be a natural part of his demeanor.

"Thank you so much Simone," he said to me and I weirdly became suspicious.

For what... I haven't done anything for you, why are you thanking me, I thought to myself, awaiting the conclusion of his statement.

"Thank you so much Simone, for bringing those shoes for Ms. Gwen. I really appreciate it." And again he was smiling his transparent smile.

I was confused. I didn't know what to say, so I said the first thing that came to my mind.

"You're welcome."

Why was he thanking me for bringing somebody else’s shoes.

Ms. Gwen

Ms. Gwen was my paternal grandmother, it was my duty. I even felt bad for not packing more things for her. The shoes wasn't even my idea, it was my mom who bought them for her.

"Don't forget to bring something for your grandmother," she had said to me, and later on after I had forgotten she gave me the shoes.

"Here, I bought these shoes for your grandmother. I think they will fit."

"Okay," I said begrudgingly, frustrated that I would have to reopen my fully packed and weighed suitcase.

Now here I was sitting on the veranda and this man was thanking me for bringing shoes for "Ms. Gwen" that I didn't even buy. And why was he calling her Ms. Gwen anyways. That was weird. I'd never before heard a man refer to his wife so formal and businesslike. I didn't know if I liked the idea.

“Ms. Gwen is a very good woman," he continued cutting into my thoughts.

And then he coughed a cough that seemed to last forever. And after forever passed he got up to spit out the remains of his lungs. He must be sick, I thought to myself. But it's expected, he is an old man. He smiled at me one last time and bid his farewell as he retired to the house.

Who was this man and why was his smile so poignant? Sickness had taken over his body yet his smile remained. Why was he thanking me, especially when I didn't bring anything for him. Was he mad that I didn't bring anything for him? I didn't think he was but I was still baffled by the dichotomy of his thank-you.

Later on in the night I asked my aunt, who was more like my sister if he was sick.

"Is Papa sick," I asked her.

"Yes, he has cancer" she told me.

I felt sad, I think even then I knew that he would be an important part of my life and memory. I knew then he would be the epitome of what it means to be a man, husband, father and friend. I knew he would play a key role on how I viewed relationships from this point on. It was the first time I had gotten a view on uncorrupted manhood.


Manhood

Every morning Papa greeted me with a smile, and an inner happiness that contradicted his outer state. He shared his life story and joy with me. And, every time he entered my presence I smiled with a beam of light.

He told me how he took care of his mother while she was sick, until she died and how fortunate he was now to have a wife who was doing the same for him.

He talked about his love for his children and how proud he was of them. I remember feeling a pang of jealousy. I wished someone could talk about me the way he talked about them, and really mean it. His love was not based on any external matters he could point to and boast about, as the love I had known which demanded an outwardly perfection from me. It was false, their love for me was based solely on how good I could make them look, inwardly I rebelled against it. Yet here was this man who gave his love with no stipulations. I knew in front of me was the epitome of what I had know in my mind to be the definition of a man. How did my grandmother get so lucky? I thought to myself. Were there more men like him in the world? Or, had she taken the last remaining one? Were there any left for me? I really didn't know the answer.

Every night he would wait on the veranda for his daughter, Sandy to get home from work. She worked the midday shift and depending on if she could find a ride in town it could be anywhere from 11pm-1am that she arrived home, sometimes even later. And like clockwork he would sit on the veranda waiting for her to get home while we all retired to bed.

I could hear him out there, coughing, spitting and waiting for Sandy to get home safely and soundly. And when she did he would say a thank you to God and give her the most loving greeting. All was well in his world once Sandy came home.

“Besides marrying my wife, Simone, the best thing I ever did was father Sandy and Loris... My other kids are in America, they are doing well for themselves. From time to time I will get a call from them, but these last two children that I have with Ms. Gwen, they are special.”

New Beginnings

I spent three months with Mama and Papa in that quaint place in Jamaica as I regained my purpose for living. There was no internet and I had to wash my clothes by hand but I wouldn’t have traded that time for the world. I had regained my energy and vitality for life and saw first hand what Divine manhood looked like.

Age, nor cancer could’ve hidden Papa’s beauty, he shined brighter than a star even despite his condition. His body was a temporary shell but within, there he was, ever present, ever vibrant, ever living, ever shining. He had a gratefulness for life and the simple things.

One day I too hoped to be blessed with a Divine man. Papa embodied manhood, masculinity and a humanity that was so unlike anything else I had seen. He was soft-spoken yet masculine, jovial yet powerful, and while his outer shell at that point in his life was failing he depicted an uncanny vitality and zest for living.

It wasn’t a fake positivity nor was it a dying man's last hope of life. He was just magnificently himself. There was something within him that was shining forth, and nothing and no one could’ve dimmed his shine.

I was happy for my grandmother that she had 'found' him, and likewise for him too, and inwardly I too wished for a day to experience the same with a man who transcended even physicality.

"I know who I want to marry now," I told my aunt Loris.

"Who?" she responded back.

"A man like Papa. A Divine man," I told her.

"Oh gosh, Sim, me too. He really is the best. But I don't know if that's out there anymore."

"It's got to be. I haven't met one yet but he can't be the only one, could he," I responded back not wanting an answer.

When I left to return home back to my American dream, I had a refreshing perspective on life. I bid farewell to everyone and thanked my lucky stars that I had gotten a chance to reacquaint myself with Papa. Those few months I spent with Papa would be the last I ever spent with him. It's been three years (10 years at the time of this blog post) since he passed and I just needed to write a testament that depicted the incredible man he is. I wish I had taken more pictures of him, but at the time, I didn't think my camera would be able to capture the true essence of him that I saw when I looked at him.

I believe the Universe understood the importance he would play in my life. I needed to see him, meet him and see what Divine masculinity looked like. In him I saw the beauty of manhood without the thwarted effects of patriarchy. I saw Papa exactly as he was; a delightful man who appreciated his life, family, and friends with every ounce of his being.

Back Story

Papa was my grandmother’s husband and the father to her last two children. My father is my grandmother’s oldest child. I had met Mama and Papa years before when I was 7 years old. They lived many hours away from where I lived in Jamaica, which at the time was like the equivalent of traveling to the moon since transportation wasn’t as accessible. The first time I met him he was a busy man working in his yard tending to his household duties. My grandmother had pointed to him and said, “That’s Papa, my husband.”

I’m not calling him Papa, I had thought to myself then. I would later find out that he helped to raise all of my grandmother’s older children and was so beloved by all of her children and grandchildren that everyone (soon to be me) called him Papa with the most love and admiration. He treated us all as though we were his children and grandchildren.

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