Papa Bear

I’m finally taking the plunge and writing a project about my father. I have had this idea bouncing around in my head for way more than a year.

It will be a compilation of all the hilarious, outrageous, shocking, wise and acidly sarcastic things my father has said throughout his life.

Only now, as an adult and parent, do I see and understand his reaction to some of the things we did as children. Only now do I know that despite the gritty, often abrasive face he presents to the world, my father is in fact the biggest teddy bear. He is a loving, kind, bear who gives the best hugs.

Make no mistake though, my papa bear has claws and will eviscerate all comers if provoked. If he thinks any of his four ‘cubs’ are threatened in any way, his fierce love and protective instinct makes him go full hulk. Never mind that the ‘cubs’ are all grown adults, some of us with families of our own.

I have asked family members and his contemporaries to send me their best memory of him; something he said or did, something they experienced with him that defined who he is to them. I’ve just taken the first step of sending out the messages and emails asking for their stories.

 I am already terrified at the scale of the project I am attempting to complete but I want to do it. I love him to pieces and respect his wisdom and I want to show myself I can.

I want to paint my father with words. I can’t draw or paint an actual picture that would reflect the light and shade and depth of who he is in a visual masterpiece but I can try to capture the essence of him in words, my paintbrushes.

I hope to spend the next three months compiling these stories into a book. The working title, which I have had written down since 2014 is:

You’re like a fish-No brain!

Stories, sayings and pearls of wisdom from my father.

Fish gape

The title is based on the exact statement my father made to a colleague years ago when I was about 10 years old. I do not know why it stuck with me all these years.

My father was a police officer (now retired). I remember we were in the unmarked squad car assigned to him heading, as a family, to an agricultural show in Anotto Bay St Mary, in Jamaica.

My father was head of the Criminal Investigative Bureau (CIB) at the time, stationed in Annotto Bay. He was receiving a report over the police radio from a young officer.

I cannot remember now what the young policeman said but it struck my father as such an asinine utterance that he, in classic fashion, shut down the officer with the statement, “You’re like a fish! You have no Brain!”

Now, as an adult, I realize that statement made absolutely no sense. Fish do have brains. Science has established that.

In an article published last year, the University of Guelph actually noted that fish that are higher up the food chain have larger brains than those near the bottom. In the study, researchers looked at 300 fish from 16 species.

I see now that in his own zany fashion he was saying that most fish have really tiny brains and the policeman had said something so stupid as to appear to have a brain the size of fish at the bottom of the food chain.

None of that mattered to my 10-year -old self. I just remember being in a fit of giggles in the car for quite a long time afterward. I just kept thinking of the man on the other end of the radio transmission opening and closing his mouth like said fish unable to respond-the genius of my dad.

Even today whenever I call him, once he has established that everything’s alright with me and mine, he proceeds to send up my mother in a most unchristian fashion that has me laughing out loud even while shaking my head and admonishing him, “daddy, don’t say that!”

He is a force of nature and I want to write these stories down for myself so I don’t forget, for him to celebrate his life and the impact he has had on so many people while he is here to read it and for my children so they know who they come from.

Back to the fear and trembling I’m feeling for a second. I realize by posting this here that I’m ripping my safety net away. Releasing my intent to the universe for all to see means I can’t back out. Whatever I do I have to make a fair attempt at completing this project and I will. I’ll have you to keep me accountable.

I’ll also have my children. I want them to know their grandfather is super awesome. I want them to know him as I do a great, big, loving, generous, savage papa bear. Here I go, wish me luck!


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