First off, let me say that this isn’t going to be a negative blog post. It might seem like it will be based on the title, but it’s not. Death is inevitable and we can’t alway control when it will happen to our loved ones. We can, however, take the lessons they taught us while they were alive and utilize them every single day to keep their memory alive. Here’s what my father taught me.
1) Never Be Afraid To Be Yourself
My dad... man was he a character. I’d be so embarrassed of him taking me to school, the grocery store, and traveling with him was a journey within itself because he was SO outgoing and such an amazingly unique individual. He was loud, funny, and everyone wanted to be his friend. Believe it our not, I was very shy as a child and because my dad looked “different” in my opinion as a six year old version of myself and not fitting in as the typical Ballard, WA white Christian male, I wanted him to adhere to our society around us, not embrace his own. Luckily he never cared when I fussed about him talking too much, being embarrassed by his big gorgeous dreadlocks, and hiding when he would talk to people literally EVERYWHERE we went. He was his own person, through and through. And now that I’m older, I see that and I love every bit of it. Along with my mom’s encouragement of course, I’ve learned to never let anyone change who you are because of their opinion of you. Be authentically you, always.
2) Embrace New Cultures
My dad is Jamaican. And by Jamaican I mean he literally came from Jamaica with nothing to America to pursue his reggae career and hopefully make a living to send back to his children down in Jamaica. Along the way, he happened to meet my mom and had me! We lived in Seattle, WA which is a very liberal, unique city but also at the time we lived in a very all-white neighborhood: Ballard. I love Ballard and still do, but it’s mainly Scandanavian culture, so there is no way I’d learn much about my own culture if my dad hadn’t been around. We didn’t listen to rock in our house, we listened to reggae daily. We didn’t go to the burger joint down the street, we would drive 45 minutes south to the best Thai restaurant (he’d always get me cashew chicken, still my fave!) or Catfish Corner. Along the way we would stop at farmer’s markets, hole-in-the-wall shops in the central district, and it would always be an adventure of new cultures. I have taken this lesson from him and never let it leave my side: it may take some effort, but make the culture experience count.
3) Go After The Unknown
Like I said, my dad came to the US with literally nothing. He didn’t know if he was going to succeed or fail, he just did it. He left a big family back in Jamaica, but was always hustling to send money back down there to make sure that they were comfortable. Looking at this part of my dad’s life, I couldn’t imagine up and moving to a new city, state, let alone country... yet he did it. And you know what? He made it. Maybe not to the point where he was a household name but he has multiple CDs and people are still listening to his music to this day. He truly went after his dream and that’s what drives me to continuously go after mine and do what I love every single day... even if I don’t know what the result will be - life is too short not to go after it.
4) Love Fearlessly, But Make It Sacred
I have multiple sisters and a brother. And my dad had multiple girlfriends in between being with my amazing, beautiful soul of a mother for 12 years. She was his rock, his constant love... My dad wasn’t the easiert person to love, he’s similar to me... stubborn, wild, free but also passionate, loving, & sweet. I’m sure my dad loved my mother with everything he had, I know this because I saw it in his eyes on the hospital bed when he was dying after the cancer treatments failed. I saw how he looked at her, held her, and kissed her. He loved her with everything he had, regardless of any other person out there that he had dated. This showed me what real love was and I will never forget it. I have always struggled to find that real connection to someone to truly connect unapologetically with them, until recently. It’s something I’ve searched for all my life because I saw the connection my parents had and THAT was love. Never allow yourself to stray from what you know in your heart is what you need from a partner. Hold out for real love.
5) Never Forget Who You Are
Above everything else, never forget who you are. My dad was such a beautiful soul and I am so blessed to be his daughter. Keeping his memory, laugh, and music alive is something that will always be with me. He made sure I knew exactly where I came from before he passed - I lived in Jamaica for 3 months in 3rd grade and I’ll never forget it. Getting to know my culture, my family, and himself was the best gift he could have ever given me.
With tears in my eyes after writing this blog post I just want to say that I want you guys to cherish the people you love in your life. They may not always be perfect, but they are truly who make us the people we are. Take in every moment, soak in every memory. It will all be worth it when you can look back when they are no longer with us with a smile, and maybe some tears, that they impacted us beyond what we ever knew a human could. I love you dad ❤️