a grateful daughter

My father won the Most Outstanding Father of the Year award last night. He is one of many great fathers and, though some might never be tangibly rewarded for their efforts, we as his children were so glad we got a chance to do that for him. This is the essay that we wrote when we nominated him…

The Walker family.
The Walker family.

‘The greatest act of love is to give up ones life for another. Our father didn’t physically give up his life but he devoted himself from day one to his children and has an unfailing and captivating presence in our lives.

As a young man studying architecture in London, he did everything possible to ensure that he had the means to solidify his career. He even worked at McDonalds flipping burgers because his widowed mother in Grenada couldn’t afford to support him fully, so he had to find the means. And after suffering the setback of a bad motorcycle accident that nearly killed him and consigned him to three months in hospital, he managed to complete his studies on schedule while working to support himself. His determination bought him seven years in the United Kingdom after which he moved to Trinidad with the experience and know how. There he set up on his own, running an architectural practice out of a small room but winning respect and work because of his incomparable integrity and kindness.

After marrying our mother he moved into a two bedroom apartment in St. Ann’s where his work desk was transformed into his second daughter’s bed during the night. Sleeping on the same surface where he father toiled for hours on end, making intricate drawing plans, gave his children a natural sense of the diligence and dedication this world calls us to have. His precise output and sharp intelligence allowed him to provide for all of us whilst saving enough to invest in a bigger house.

He got a great deal on a house and though it was broken down, he redesigned and refurbished it to create the heaven on earth that we’ve lived in for the past 25 years. We had two dogs which we often neglected but our father always took time out to feed and bathe them.

Similarly, even when we forgot to love each other as children who were prone to fighting and dissatisfaction, he always gave us hugs that quenched our thirst for attention and love. Every morning he would come up from his office downstairs and kiss us each on the forehead, reminding us that we are loveable, beautiful and deserved human beings who, no matter where life takes us, will always be cared for unconditionally by our father.

He coloured the house with his splendid taste in music on weekends and holidays creating a joyful atmosphere around the house making it hard for us to leave, as there was no place we felt more relaxed in than under the roof he had worked so hard to put over our heads. He is a father his daughters always cuddled with, because he naturally gave off a warmth that settled their souls and their fears.

He is not known to them to ever judge a person, inviting everyone into his house and into conversation in a way that made them most comfortable. This taught his children tolerance and the beauty of honest relationships. Because as they watched him interact, never with double-standards or ulterior motives, they saw something powerful and wonderful that they could never forget — they saw God.

 The man himself!
The man himself!

God has always been present in the Walker household where prayer and praise is an integral part of speech. Each and every member has maintained a love and reverence for God that has defined the way in which we live, wherever we live, and in whatever we do. It is impossible to be mislead, misbehave, rebel or disappoint when all your father ever does is love you and give you his all everyday.

God Himself is the greatest example of a father. Our dad emulates God’s unchanging devotion. Our dad always made sure to reward us, spectacularly managing his finances in a way that allowed him to take us on yearly holidays to Grenada and Tobago, and once to England, Canada and twice to Disney World. We knew every time we got on a plane to go somewhere and every time we lay in a soft bed of a low-budget hotel or inn, that he had earned those privileges from working hard, with the help of our mother. And every trip was superbly planned, allowing us to relax and get away from our high-achieving lifestyles and bask in each other’s wonderful company, cramp up from laughing at his endless corny jokes, and appreciate the beauty of nature and the essence of family life.

When we were sick he patted our heads with an ice-cold cloth until we fell asleep, and whistled soothing tunes while lying next to us. When we won tennis tournaments or came first in exams he would reward us with something useful, like proper tennis shoes or a new school bag. He always donated to the clubs we were in, was the manager of his youngest daughter’s secondary school football team, supported the national hockey and football teams she was on, is one of the biggest supporters of his lagniappe boy’s steel band, Invaders, and has thus far financially supported the education of three of his children in top US and UK universities.

The youngest son, still 13, is a national judo, chess, music festival and steel pan champion as well as repeat class-topper. He has performed in over 60 solo pan performances since he was four, and our father was no doubt always supportive, encouraging and enthusiastic, despite his getting older and having been a father for almost 30 years. He never wanes in his dedication.

For birthdays and anniversaries he always makes homemade cards and writes poems to go along with them. He is ever thoughtful and always eager. Although two of his children live in London, he sends daily email updates which include videos that he has taken of the latest family goings-on.

Some years ago he had a  device inserted into his chest because his heart was giving trouble. Having him rushed to the hospital on numerous occasions was the greatest fright for us, and more recently, having him tied up by armed robbers in our house the week before Christmas but left unharmed has made us realise how devastating it would be to lose a man like no other we have come across on this earth. He is a brilliant example, not just of a father, but of a man. He is a man who would pray for the robber instead of fighting back, a man who they wouldn’t dare hurt because when he looked into their eyes they knew he wasn’t judging them one bit.

He is a man who has taken little but given so much to his family, his community and his country. There aren’t many men like him. We love him to pieces.’

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