One of my favourite things to do is listen to interviews of highly successful people on their personal lives. One thing that ALWAYS comes up is how their family influenced their future. In most, if not all, cases this influence was strong and lasting and was their driver towards success. So I am devoting this blog to my family who played a part in shaping who I am and continues to be right there with me through my failures, successes and the periods of waiting in-between.
She is one heck of a woman. I think she was actually a 21st Century woman before the 21st Century even began. When she was in her early 20s she opened a pre-school in the back of her family home and ran it successfully for 22 years, educating many of the children I grew up with, including myself and my first cousin. Since closing the pre-school she has been interim principal of one of the top primary schools in Trinidad, despite the fact that she doesn’t have a full degree, and she currently runs an aqua fitness enterprise and is the informal on call councillor for many ladies in the community.
She didn’t just drive me EVERYWHERE I needed to go, but she always prayed with me in the car, made sure I did my homework, corrected me whenever I was rude or out of place, reminded me of my responsibilities and where my priorities should be — namely with my sports, family, God and school, and encouraged me to explore my talents in dance, sport, music, gymnastics and whatever else. She took all of the name-calling, the ‘I hate you’s and the disappointments I caused her due to my rebellion(s). She assumed the position of the tough lover, because she knew someone had to, knowing that it wouldn’t win her votes, but she is just that sort of woman — focused, driven, strong-minded, sacrificially loving and dedicated. She lived this life so that I could live mine fully and be my best. And no matter how hard it was to be my mother she never stopped loving me and praying for me.
He was just awarded Father of the Year for the example he sets as a great dad. He almost lost his life in a cycling accident in London when he was in his early 20s but that didn’t stop him from working any job he could, finishing his architecture degree(s) and getting the necessary experience before he came back to the Caribbean and opened his own architectural practice. He worked hard to take us from the two bedroom apartment to a house with seven rooms surrounded by mango trees. He gave it his all every day to provide for us, ensuring that before we went to school he kissed us at least once and made his love known to us. My father was the manager of my high school football team, gave his time and support to the national football team when I played on it, forgave me and picked up the slack for me when I smashed a glass squash door after a dreaded final match, and came to rescue me when I snuck out of our hotel room to go dance at the hotel club at age 15. He researched the best universities and the choice of degrees and helped me fill in my applications and send them off. He funded my undergraduate and graduate education and set up at least five of my internships and helped me settle into life in London.
My little brother…
He was born 12 years after me and has been a joy to my life ever since. He has been playing steel pan since the age of 4 and is known among the great panists, won the T&T music festival in pan for his age group, got the award for best student in his primary school, is on the national Judo team and training for the Olympics, and has most recently been chosen as the captain of his under 15 hockey team. But the greatest thing about him is that he is selfless and humble. He listens to my advice and respects me 100%. He always tells me I’m doing great and even though his achievements have surpassed many of mine, he still makes me feel good enough to be his role model. His hugs are so wholesome and his openness to learning and laughing is so wonderful. I pray for him that he will grow up into a secure, confident man who is always humble and modest but relentless in being the best he can be — because his best is pretty amazing. And he is only 13.
She played barbies with me until she was 13 (she is three years old that I am) even though she didn’t want to. She taught me about holiness and that we should come to God with reverence. When I was a child I resented how good she was but as I saw the horrible sisters of my friends I realised that I had an angel for a sister and since then I have been on a journey of growth, discovery and love with this angel. While she lived in London she would cook me French toast for breakfast and bring it to the bed for lazy me, she introduced me to a great church, she let me talk to her about my dreams and desires and she read my stories, listened to my plans and always encouraged me. When I was going through the transition from doctor-to-be to writer-to-be she is the one who made me believe I wasn’t crazy for making the decision to change. During the times when I thought maybe I was a little too weird and unfitted, she reminded me that who I am is someone really loveable and that there is no one like me. Through her struggles I got an opportunity to prove that I am responsible and to learn how to really love another person. I’ve always felt protective of her and though she doesn’t usually think so, she has always been my guardian angel.
My big brother…
My brother instilled in me a healthy competitiveness. In all that I did I had at least one person who was better than me — him. In trying to win against him in many things I learnt to never give up and to do what it takes to win even when your opposition has a definite advantage. He has travelled the world, knows many languages, worked for a FTSE100 company for the last six years and is now married to a nice lady. The mature, focused and successful life that he has led is testament to his logical thinking, emotional maturity and an intellect that he has worked hard to develop. He is the only member of my family that calls me out when I am selfish, immature or irresponsible and I usually dislike him for it. But he is probably the reason why I am a more refined, committed and stable version of myself. He was one of the first persons to read and critique my first novel. When he told me how proud he was that I had written such a book and that he believed that one day I could be like Chimamanda Adichie, it was one of the most encouraging things I’ve ever been told. Because when he gives a compliment, it is one to be taken seriously.
I by no means think my family is perfect. Neither do I think my family is the only great family. There are many, many great families out there and I believe they are the cornerstones of society and the well-springs for some of the greatest public figures and all of the millions of great people who haven’t made it into the public eye.
The last few years have been the most difficult for my family. As I have grown older I’ve tried to become more independent of them so that I can become my own person, sometimes I have even thought that I needed to distance myself because they were too heavily involved in my life and helped me too much. I thought that in order to learn how to be fully functioning and successful I needed to cut the ‘umbilical chord’.
Well I did do that, sort of. I moved to away and stayed away, I’ve gone on my own spiritual journey, I’ve chosen my own career path and I chose to struggle in London rather than have the comfort of being at home with them. Yes, it has made me who I am today, but all along they were there — caring, worrying, nagging, asking, offering assistance, assisting, praying, loving, encouraging, supporting. They are always the first to like my blogs, comment on my updates, congratulate me when I achieve, uplift me when I struggle and rescue me if I need rescuing.
Their love for me has never changed even though I have changed. And this blog is to thank them for everything they have given me and continue to give me. It is to recognise the important of a healthy and wholesome family life where the parents are involved in their children’s lives and where the children are not just siblings but friends. It is to encourage people to strive to keep their families together, to put love for the other over love for themselves. Because with family love is never scarce.
Finally, I have produced a video of my family, mostly of footage from a trip to Orlando last summer. This is my Christmas present to them. I cried while watching it for the first time after it was exported, and cried again when I watched it over and over. It really hit home to me that much of the essence of my life and my happiness is my family.
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Ephesians 6:1-4 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Ephesians 5:22 -25, 28 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands… Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”