Monday, August 27, 2012

Finally Reunited - RIP Aji.

As immigrants to the US, we all try to carve out our own destiny. When we arrive here with family, sometimes that destiny separates us. Mine took me away from my beloved grandmother. There comes a time when we seek to reconnect and cement our love and affection, before the end.


My journey settled in Orlando, Florida. Far away from Newark, New Jersey where my grandmother stayed with aunts and uncles. There was always a burning desire to spend quality time with my grandmother. Mid summer 2010, I did just that. It was just a time to sit reflect, eat meals, laugh, walk downstairs and just be in her presence. A few days were sheer joy for both of us. Many times we just sat there without saying anything, or she just sleep quietly.

After my dad passed in 1977, my grandmother was the driving force ensuring that I had the best our humble surroundings could offer. I hinted a replacement for her beloved son, Mickie, in me. Or as some of my beloved cousins would say, “I was her favorite.” Maybe they were just jealous that I got a larger share of the goodies. Needless to say aji took special interest in her grandchildren. At our old house in Line Path Sunday brunches was a must.

Our church service started at 7:30 am and finished at 8 – 9 ish, depending on which long winded elder or preacher was conducting service. After services, the entire clan would gather at our home for a day long frenzy of activities. Before services finished, Uncle Adam Hussain, came to our house to halaal the duck or chicken. Then the cooking started. Kids played, older ones helped out. My grandma pretended to conduct operations but she never really did. She rather spend time with us kids than be a slave to the fireside. It is this joyous time that cemented a bond between grandchildren and grandmother.

Naturally, I was not going to be in the vicinity of New York and not visit my cousins. So after a couple of days eating, talking, giving her tablets, making tea and biscuits, laughing uncontrollably about nothing in particular I was itching for a drive. My grandmother got wind that I was driving to New York. Mind you, this old lady had not leave Newark, for that matter her home, other than her frequent trips to the hospital, in years. Now she wanted to take the one hour, or two hours depending on traffic, drive to Queens! My aunts and uncles were stunned. She always refused when anyone offered to take her to Queens. Here she was determined to go. She reminded us every morning, “Abe a guh today?”

After much deliberating and consulting at the caution of some family members, we decided that she would make the drive. I personally do not think that she would let me go without her. It was like moving her entire room into the car. But she settled in and was ready to go. As the journey began, my 80 something year old grandmother keep pointing out various landmarks. She had not taken this trip in years, yet she remembered certain places. No one recalled telling her exactly whose house we were going to. As we pulled up to Aunty Patricia’s home she immediately announced, “This a Dolly new house.” How did she know?

It was thrilling to see her walking in and inspecting the house. After about half an hour of sitting in the living room and conversing with everyone, she retired to the bedroom. She said she was tired. She stopped breathing! We called the paramedics, they came and took her away, we followed. She was in the emergency room for awhile. All of the family gathered. She came out of the emergency room and was placed in a critical care room. There was no brain activity. After a couple of days, the doctors saw no improvement, we all conferred. It was her time to go.

After it was decided, everyone went home. Although the doctors would not let me stay in the room, they could not stop me from walking by and peeking in. They also could not stop me from sitting with her in silence when no one was around. That faithful August 27, 2010 night was peaceful and silent. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning I went to my aunt’s house to freshen up and came back before daybreak. Aji was still there. A couple hours later she went to be with her husband Philip, her daughter Juliet, her son Mickie, and her son-in-law Adam. I went in kissed her, walked around the ward, and came back, the doctors surrounded her, she was gone.

Aji lived a long and happy life. She got to spend those years with loving and caring children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. For a young village girl, from Williamsburg, Berbice who married into a farming family in #35 Village, Berbice to a housewife of a Sugar Factory driver in Line Path, Berbice to an immigrant of the United States, Evelyn Joseph, later Khidaroo had a fulfilling life.

I am at peace that my grandmother departed. How long does one stay on this earth for our comforts? When is it time? It was her time. No more pain and suffering, no more doctors and tablets, no more people assisting her to do everything physically, no more depending on anyone, no more being lonely. She is with the people she loved and cherished, but still smiling down on those of us who were in her gracious folds. I miss you aji, but I understand your journey. Rest in Peace old lady, RIP.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Remember You, Mickie Khadaroo

Friday 4 pm Aug 19, 1977 - A happy, vibrant man strode into Skeldon Sugar Estate Payroll office to pick up his pay check. After that he went to Skeldon Market, opposite the Skeldon Hospital and bought beef. He made a rounds to Narine Datt bar to say hello and what we now know is goodbye to his friends. He went home to his wife, son, and family. His wife made a special beef curry.

Friday 8 pm Aug 19, 1977 - Mickie Khadaroo took his favorite sports section of the newspaper and went to the out house. He never came back out. After a prolonged period, my mom checked on her husband. No answer. She screamed for help. As neighbors gathered the Skeldon Sugar Estate ambulance arrived. They took him to Skeldon Hospital. Later that night they took him to New Amsterdam Hospital.

Mon 6 am Aug 22, 1977 my father stopped breathing.

Prior to Aug 19, 1977 my dad spent the last month or more at the New Amsterdam Hospital for what sparse recollection and recounts amount to a brain injury. Throughout his youth up to the ripe age of 29, my father lived to the fullest. Reckless, maybe. He was a sucker for speed and motorcycles. After all he was a mechanic. Trained by his father from a very young age and later formally at the Guysuco Training Center in Rose Hall, Mickie excelled with all things mechanical. In those days and probably still so, the manly and approved thing to do was work at the Sugar Estate, drink with your buddies, and ride motorcycles drunk. After several accidents and head injuries, his tender skull had enough.

As a father, son, brother, and grandson Mickie never forsake his family. My fading memory, I was 6 when he passed, was always among many family members. Our one on one time was a slow drive from Line Path to either Crabwood Creek Road End or Springlands Stelling. I don’t quite remember what was said to me. I just remember a couple of events, birthdays, family gatherings, and trips to other family in Rose Hall and #35 Village.

His early demise left me listless. My grandfather, Uncle Phil, and his brothers Jerry, Ralph and Eddy did a great job filling the void. His mother, Eva, sisters Juliet, Patricia, Esther, and Loney made sure I was comfortable. His wife, Asha, my mom has been and continues to be my rock. She sacrificed her own opportunities in life for my comforts. Mickie is smiling on his darling Asha. Over the years at various times, I had the honor of meeting and reminiscing with many of my dad’s friends. I don’t recall anyone whom he knew or knew him that he did not touch personally. Many call him their brother…..or as they say in Guyana “Dem buddy friend”.

It has been over three decades since you left this world, dad. I feel your presence everyday. Your caring and loving ways still touch this family. In family times, there is still talks about your big heart. Rest assured you are missed. We thank you for touching our lives and somehow instilling your love and compassion. Rest in Peace dear father, RIP.