As I reflect on the 13th anniversary of my Grandfather’s transition, my 25 year old new Mom self has realized that his witty proverbs, foreshadowing, and subliminal life hacks have rung to be true. I’m sure my entire family and I could compile a whole book of his idioms and quotes. Some are Caribbean proverbs that many of you may be familiar with if you grew up with island grand parents like I did, and some were just genuine words of wisdom.
Since I asked my Mom to do her own personal list, I thought 13 would be a great number for my post. I miss him dearly, and he’s really the only transitioned family member that I genuinely cry about when I’m reminded of him.
A little background story on how he passed:
He was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in 1992 and didn’t tell our family until two weeks before he passed in 2003. Ironically, he lasted all of those years without chemotherapy, and after he started receiving the treatments was when he got worse. He was a Medical Doctor himself, so for him to not participate in that unnatural treatment taught me a lot about the medical industry early on. I started waking up when I was 12, lol.
Now here we are, 13 years later on September 3rd. His favorite band was The Temptations and his favorite song was “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” so for him to pass on “the third of September” is still creepily dope as ever to me. The following list is in no particular order and the pictures may not correlate either, but this is my reflection, so just stay with me.
1. It never gets easier, you just get better.
In one of the Bibles that he left, he highlighted Romans 8:18. (Did I mention that he was also a Pastor? He was Jamaican, so one job was a joke to him.) Anyways, Romans 8:18 states: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time nare not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed.
Man! If only he knew the ramen noodle struggle that I endured in college, and the “f**k I should’ve gotten my degree” broke nights at 25, he would laugh. He’s probably laughing now. However, it is true. The growing pains are beneficial for the come up. Without learning how to deal with the uncomfy, you won’t learn how to appreciate the comfort that comes later.
2. If you run out of things to talk about, you aren’t reading enough.
When I spent what I didn’t know would be my last Summer with my grandfather, he would make me read to him for two hours. I had the choice between the newspaper or a collection of poems by Emily Dickinson. After those two hours, we would talk about what I got from it. Endless conversation! The gag? I would talk to him for so long that I didn’t realize he had kept me away from binge watching Disney Channel all summer.
3. “They’re going to tell you to eat healthy, then taint your food.”
Right before the big announcement of his cancer, I noticed that my grandma was cooking healthier than usual. It was weird. After the announcement, and as he got sicker, she made whatever meal he requested. It took me back to when Keanu Reeve’s shared a story about his friends mom and quoted: “[People] you cannot hide from your poison.” It’s crazy how my grandpa peeped game early on when I really thought he was just being old, lol. “Eating to live” never really lasted long in our Caribbean household.
4. “Gallivanting” is a real word.
Every Saturday morning for as long as I remembered, we would prepare to go “gallivanting.” Until college, I thought the word was “galavantee” because my grandma always said it in her Spanish accent, but no, it’s actually gallivanting, and it means to go from place to place seeking entertainment and amusement.
5. “How can you pick a favorite place if you haven’t been everywhere?”My grandparents were travel goals. They went everywhere together. I used to say every place was my favorite place until he finally shut me down with this question, lol. I thought McDonald’s was the best until I tried Wendy’s, then I thought Subway was the bomb until I had a Publix sub. You feel me? Never know until you try, right? This question is applicable to any situation in life, and I am thankful to be able to apply it.
6. You may not like golf but you need to at least know about it because…white people.
My grandfather had one white friend. His name was Graham and he lived in Australia. He always wore shirts with inappropriate quotes, and he really said “Mate.” Anyways, other than that, the only time I saw my 60+ year old grandpa actively interact with wypipo was when he went to play golf or he was giving them a dollar outside the gas station. His golfer friends adored him. They loved him like he had always been welcomed in their circles. Interesting. After golf, he would always remind me how “they’re gonna get Tiger Woods if he gets too good” and lo and behold, they got Tiger. “That’s why you learn to play with and never play for.”
7. Everything in life is an exchange.
“Your grandma married me for my money and I loved her for her good looks and cookin.” I’m sure he was joking but even then, I was always intrigued by the chemistry between the two. They loved genuinely, and they understood give and take. It was my first example of good, genuine, black love.
8. Crazy can definitely be a destination if you make it.
Where are you going? Crazy. Wanna come? That was a common Q&A with him. That response usually meant that nobody was invited. He took time for himself and made time for he and my grandma. Space and solitude is vital to your sanity. I have been learning that not taking time for yourself can really make you “go crazy.”
9. Never trust a man that doesn’t wear a watch. (personal fave)
“A man without a watch has no concept of time, which means he has no (concept of) money, because he has no place to be.” When dating, I always look for a watch. For one, it’s a great conversation piece, and for two, time is money. I’ve never been able to take anyone without a watch serious. What if I need to know what time it is and our phones are dead? What if you need to manually check my blood pressure? These are serious questions that go through my head, btw. Watches are essential.
10. “Waanti waanti cyaan getti, getti getti no waanti.” – Jamaican Proverb
Be careful what you ask for and most importantly, be careful what you pray for. Once you get “it”, the only reason you don’t want it anymore is because you don’t know what to do with it. Hearing him say that proverb all of the time also helped me understand that God and I don’t have the same timing. I’m either going to be prepared or not be. Either way, I have to learn to work with what I have when I have it.
11. Fill up at half tank, not when you’re about to be on E.
Granted, I wasn’t event thinking about driving when he was alive, but I always heard him say that to my grandma, lol. And of course, I applied this quote to other aspects of my life. Don’t run out of gas, Keila.
12. Learn to do something that someone else will always need.
He was really big on education, which is ironic because clearly my laziness rewarded me with a GED and now six classes away from a Bachelors. However, I have trades for days. Need a drink? I’m a bartender. Need a hair model? I have great hair. The list goes on. Moral of the story, I know how to maneuver if technology fails us and my soon-to-be degree is no longer applicable.
13. “You can’t be as good, you have to be better than.” (Everyone’s favorite)
Self-explanatory and the the baby boomer’s version of “Don’t be basic.” My grandfather held us all in high regards not only because we were apart of his legacy, but because he believed in our greatness. An average man only gets average results. We all live by this quote in our daily walks of life. It allows us to continuously hear Georgino when we need him most.
I am thankful to have been blessed with twelve years of memories and life lessons. My daughter will know him by our stories, and his legacy will forever be present.
Until we meet again, Dr. Skyers.