Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My Tribe's Traditions: Once A Man, Twice A Child

copyright  K. Omodele 2015  @TheAbeng

It's my tribe's tradition that we mind our elders; we home them, dine them, clothe them, include elders in life's events - holidays, birthdays, weddings, reunions; we cringe at the thought of placing our elders in nursing homes. In quiet moments, we read with our elders, cook with our elders, and listen, fascinated, by their old-time stories about the British, independence and the train line that ran all the way from Town to country. In our day to day, we turn garden soil for them, turn over mattresses for them, turn on TV shows for them, and twist open mango-achar* jars when arthritis done bend-up their fingers like some old-guava -tree twigs. Sometimes, we chauffer them around: shopping, visiting, appointment meeting, beauty saloning - nails, hair, and spa.

When my family gathers up, generations row like some parakeets 'bout who was the greatest West Indies cricket captain- Sobers or Lloyd?** We wind up to Sparrow, skank to Toots and the Maytals, groove with delight when Tinga Stewart tells we to "Play The Music/Jump like leggo beast!" Oh, and you should see how we all love three-step with liveliness to Percy and Benny and Sam- "Bring It All Home To Me!" Yeah- Yeah... But when we fling on dancehall,*** the elders screwface in disgust and confusion.

When I was a 'lil youth, my Granny, her sister (my Great-Aunt) and my Grandfather took care of my Great-Grandfather, Papa, in his final years. I got ancient-days images of Papa flickering through my memory; he, skin like burnt brass and hair like wool. I recall vaguely, he was fierce when it came to his mangoes, so you better had take your eyes of his mango tree.

I also remember, later, how my Uncle Stuartie (Jah Bless you, me Lion) and his wife took care of another one of my Great-Aunts when she couldn't manage living on her own any longer. And my Auntie has my Granny, who's 94 years old, and her sister, 90, taking care of them the best she can. Been doing this now for three decades, through two marriages, with an lioness heart and spirit. Sometimes despair wells up Auntie's eyes because my Granny now needs help getting dressed and my Great-Aunt keeps forgetting how to make her morning coffee. So, my Auntie rises early o'clock, prepares them breakfast, changes what-so-ever needs changing, washes whatever needs washing, with nuff**** love and care, honor and devotion.
One day it will be my generations' turn to care for my aunts and uncles, my parents. This is the way of our tribe. And we gon' uphold this tradition, no matter where on Earth we roam. The younger youth better had learn. This is what we do, in my family, my tribe.

*achar is spicy, pickled green (unripe) mango
**Sir Garfield Sobers from Barbados; Clive Lloyd from Guyana. Two captains of great West Indies teams, representing different eras
*** dancehall reggae is a more uptempo, faster, younger genre
**** plenty; a lot; much

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