Charlotte could not walk away from who she truly was deep inside, so she continued to consistently encourage herself with reminders that her true identity did not rest in the fact that she was a mother or a nursing assistant. She had come to know that her true identity was rooted in Jesus Christthat she was righteousness in the eyes of God and that she was his daughter. She reminded herself that God had placed her on earth to complete a divinely appointed mission and that her life was not her own but devoted in service to God. She has a life of special services to the Lord. She was told she was born with a caul on her face. She believes she is a caul bearer, dedicated to the will and purpose of God. She also remembers that she was never alone; the Spirit of God was always with her. But she still struggles to see her purpose clearly beyond serving faithfully as a mother. As the veil of each trial is lifted, she has to struggle until the rising of the next veil. She raises her children in the ways of the Lord and works as a nursing assistant who reaches beyond her duties and truly cares for others as God cares for her.
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The veil of life that embodies us and allows us to reach and seek beyond our horizon conceals the dreams that plague our spirits through unrest. In so doing, we venture onto paths unknown that lead us from the protection of God's will. But when we place our unrest into the hands of Jesus, God's will is brought into view, revealing a road map that directs each individual to contribute to the fulfilling of God's purpose. Wynona whispered under her breath on day as memories flood her mind of the wasted and foolish path that her careen and Julia decide to explore their journey to freedom and happiness.
Domesticity was the resilient cord woven through generations of Jamaican families in the West Indies community where Careen was born and raised. Without question, domestic and farm labor were the certain futures most children grew into, and the heritage was passed on to their children. Careen, however, was different. From a very early age, she was a wanderer and a dreamer who saw a different future for herself. She was restless, and in her spirit she was being driven. Months had passed and Wynona and Julia happened across each other they stood for a moment and began talking about their teenage path, Julia said this domestic life is back breaking, but life is sweet in this land call Jamaica, no matter how I travel Jamaica is home. You hear from careen she made up her mind she was out, not even little cold water she splash behind her, like she know where she was going.
Unsure of her path, she explored every challenge that appeared to have an answer to her restlessness. Domestic chores, whether working inside their home or outside on their farm, were too mundane, too routine for Careen to consider as her expected future. She simply couldn't accept the thought. She didn't understand why she felt different from her ten siblings.
Careen was innovative; she had dreams and wanted to make them a reality. She longed for something more, something exciting to reach for, a career out in the world beyond the boundaries of her Jamaican heritage. That longing grew as she grew. Careen dreamed that she would one day move far from familiarity to a world beyond her present knowledge and understanding. From deep within her, she felt called away. Careen, the youngest child, had inherited her mother's beauty and shapeliness; she had a face you looked at twice. Careen's physique attracted more attention than she wanted from men, yet she was level headed. Wish her the best, Wynona said maybe she is a model or got into the movie business.
Careen and her siblings were raised in a loving, happy, and very busy two-parent home. Their house was small for thirteen people — two parents raising eleven children — but their home was well cared for. Her parents and siblings were dedicated to the daily chores that kept their home functioning well and flourishing. Careen's siblings grew to love and care for their home as an invaluable commodity and felt as though they lived in a mansion.
Daily chores on their farm were orchestrated by Careen's parents, not only in quest of training their children for their own future successes but also to keep the passel of children occupied and entertained. The repetitive chores of cooking, baking, laundering, and tending to the gardening and animals were distributed among the family members, except Careen. She was often overlooked when chores were assigned, because her sisters saw her as a precious button and did not want to load the burden of housework on her, so she had the freedom to roam and dream. How she got through so fast its as if something open a path for her and she slip in, well said Julia we will cross path my visa won't expire without a visit in the states once or twice a year at least she left something behind if not cold water
Careen was a bundle of joy, and her beauty deterred any harsh reprimand from her sisters, who protected her from their parents' stern upbringing. As she watched the never-ending cycle of domestic life, she longed in her heart with determination for something completely different for her future. Some of her siblings saw her as determined and headstrong in the path she had chosen as her exit from a nonproductive life
The family was not a churchgoing family. Although Careen's siblings gravitated toward different denominations for worshipping the Lord, Careen did not feel led to adopt any worship denomination. She never prayed or talked about God. She did not have a spiritual mind toward God. She did not want to entertain the idea that there is a God and that we are on this earth to fulfill and complete His wishes. Careen had a goal and believed with determination and self-will that she should set out to search for her own destiny.
Like most others in their community, Careen's father, uncles, and brother were carpenters and masons. They helped build many of the brick buildings that stand in downtown Kingston. Grandfather Charles Sylvester humpry helped build the oldest boys' school in Jamaica. When construction and masonry work were slow, Careen's family depended on farming and livestock as their source of sustenance and income. They grew much of their own food and raised their own livestock, including chickens, goats, cows, and pigs. Their heritage derived from the richness of the earth and the labor of their hands. Only necessities that were not homegrown were bought from the local market, including butter, cornmeal, flour, and sugar. Julia if we stand here and reminiscing any longer we go need a bed but memba the cook outs the food at her parents house we never hungry, look ya call me. Now me feel like careen fly fly away when me look pan the work.
These thoughts flowed through Careen's mind while she watched the steady regimen of work from a discerning and contemplative distance. There were fruits and vegetables to pick, goats and cows to milk, and eggs to gather. The work was rewarding but sometimes came with its challenges. Careen would often look back on her childhood with a different view of some of its tensions. For example, a chicken perhaps wanted to brood on her eggs to produce hatchlings, yet the family wanted those eggs for breakfast, leading to a rowdy disagreement between fowl and egg gatherers.
The family supplied both brown and white eggs from their chicken coop; Careen was not particular about the flavor. Just as she could not distinguish their chickens' brown eggs from the white eggs by taste, she found a distinguishable difference in the home of the family where she worked. Her employers purchased all their supplies from the market or the corner store and were not liberal with giving or sharing their food. She wanted to feel as her employers felt at the independence of not relying on the farm except to buy from the market.
Home and farm life was very different. Their products came from the ground or from selecting a goat, chicken, or pig for the table. Careen's thoughts fluttered through her childhood. The family grew vines of clustered tomatoes, yellow and white yams, and Irish and sweet potatoes. White yams were Careen's favorite; the yellow was best in pumpkin soup with dasheen, a root vegetable more commonly known as taro. Careen would sit and watch as her sisters cut potatoes and yams from vines and tossed them into a basket to be carried to the kitchen. Green peas grew on vines that looked like little trees, with many limbs that were weak and lay close to the earth. Careen watched as her sisters hulled them and filled their aprons or a basin with fresh green peas. Those that dropped would be watered by rain, and after a time, the first two little leaves would sprout. Not long after, a vine would begin to grow. Thus, the repetitive cycle of life continued from the earth as well as in Careen's home and on their farm.
Banana trees grew in clusters, and each produced six to twelve bunches of green bananas. Plantains, members of the banana family, were cut down and stored in a dark, cool place and checked every couple of days to see if they had turned yellow and were ripe. Unlike many farmers, Careen's family didn't spray anything on their fruits, bananas, and plantains to enhance coloring. Their bananas and other fruits were allowed to naturally ripen to their original colors, which made the taste exquisite in their natural juices.
Careen would sit and watch as her sisters cut potatoes and yams from vines and toss them into a basket to be carried to the kitchen. She watched as her sisters and brothers became land lovers, plowing the land to reproduce. When the rain did not fall, they would carry several buckets of water to water the ground, repeating this process until rain fell. Some of the neighbors would come and help in cultivating the land.
Once this love of the land had brought forth large cabbage, healthy yams, and potatoes, a feast was in order, and a cow or large goat would be sacrificed. Most people in Jamaica did not own a refrigerator; food was shared with neighbors. A water bucket would hold several lemons or limes with sugar for the lemonade drink, and the families would gather. There were many children who played games like ring-around-the-rosy and sang those rhythmic games like go dunn a manuel road gal and boy to go bruck rock stone. If you slow you get your finger mash, so don't think, nor listen to the music long. The older male siblings were in charge of the music, while the uncles and dads played dominoes. These gatherings always lasted until early morning. Therefore her grandfather always recommended having a feast on Friday or Saturday. Even thou they use to mash me finger said Sharon the music was nice, as she snap her finger and move from side to side, because of uncle Charles sharon couldn't get up to dance like she feel it so she dance in her mind and the rock tell the rest.
Careen watched all the repetitive activity and could not imagine following in the footsteps of her parents and siblings. She dreamed of a world beyond their land and home — and beyond Jamaica. She watched as her siblings gathered their homegrown cocoa seeds and prepared them on Saturday evening. They grated the seeds and then put them in the mortar, a stone basin where seeds were mashed to powder. The powdered chocolate was used to make fresh hot chocolate. This was a special treat for Sunday mornings but, like the other bounty of their land, not so special to Careen that it would hold her heart to a future of farming or domestic work. She was decisive and determined.
One of the desires of Careen's heart was to be married and have children. She wanted to have the husband–wife unity she saw her parents portray in her home, and she went about seeking for that relationship without God or prayer. After high school she would wander off with friends she believed would lead her to where she would be able to make her dreams a reality. She was eighteen and did not talk with just any young man. He had to be ambitious and have a will to seek higher things from life.
She met a young man who had just enrolled to become a police officer, and they began dating. But their dating was short-lived. He moved too slow for Careen's expectation. He talked of being a constable in the force; his thoughts were not helping her to travel. Careen yearned for fulfillment and did not find it with the officer. It was a disappointment for her. Although they dated for a while. She walked away with the after effect of self-will. Nothing can interfere with the will of God. If they had married, God's will would have been interfered with. He was a police officer with a drive to achieve the highest rank in his profession. So what you think Wynona careen had a good man in Phillip she would have had the good life she wanted, he would have allowed her to travel, yes said Wynona but seeing and knowing more about this journey she had to follow her path even if without the Lord. So you really believe she was on this path without the Lord.
Careen became pregnant by the officer while they dated. After she had given birth to their son, she handed him his child and moved on; the relationship was over. She wanted to be free to entertain her thoughts and longings. She had to move back home until her next decision and she would not be accepted with a baby. Besides, a baby would slow her pace, and she felt she was just beginning to gain her place and be in control of herself.
She started looking for jobs. At the time the only jobs available were domestic work: taking care of children, cooking, and housecleaning. In doing this she was able to once again move from her parents' home. She found a room on her days off and began her adventures.
Careen was disappointed about the birth of her son out of wedlock, as she did not want to have children before being a wife and having a husband. She desired to be married. She continued her adventures for a change from the mundane routine of her home life, but what she found in town was the tireless familiar conversations about finding a husband and making the land fruitful. Careen was almost certain that such thoughts were not able to fulfill her yearnings. Yet she continued to keep herself in their company; they had the excitement she was looking and the connections she was interested in, but their conversation was not of interest to her Those were the common hopes of the peers, and she felt a desire to be somewhere besides her homeland. She did not know where, but she knew she had to keep searching for a path to escape. Still, despite her disappointment with her peers' conversation, she refused to consult with the Lord as to her next step.
She ventured out further, getting together with her friends when the ships came into dock at the wharf for a week or a month with the servicemen coming from war. Careen was among the several young females waiting for the soldiers to unload onto the dock. She found herself entertaining one of the sailors for the duration of the ship's docking at the wharf. Her goal was to travel from her homeland. Her thoughts were so focused on finding passage that she did not consider that this adventure might impede her path. When the ship set sail and left port three months later, she was left with only a memory. And when the ship left the dock the sailor had left his prize behind with no information, neither roots nor branch. Well, look at the dangers we endured we could have been dead several times, if the Lord was not in the plan, maybe it wasn't His divine plan, but, he was there, said Wynona
When her daughter was born nine months later, and with no history of the baby's father, Careen had to face responsibility with a gift too precious and beautiful to walk away from, She could not give this child to anyone; the connection had been broken. Careen found herself spending days and nights at the hospital. Her baby had been born with sickle cell anemia. One of her neighbors, Valarie Henry who felt Careen's turmoil and sadness, began staying with her at the hospital and when it was time to register the baby, the neighbor said, "Give her my name." So Careen's baby left the hospital with a first, middle, and last name. In Jamaica, when you have a child, it should carry the last name of the father, and she became Careen's adventure, her little Caucasian baby. Although this slowed her adventurous spirit, spending time at home with her new baby only inspired her thoughts even more to venture out.
After her baby was stable, she began visiting her family, mainly her sisters and nieces. She brought the baby, and after recovering from her daughter's birth and finding acceptance from her family, she had gained the confidence to leave her baby with her sisters and nieces until she came back from new adventures. She still had a yearning deep within her that needed to be filled. As they began to stand by her side, she had gained the confidence to leave her sickly baby daughter in their care and try to fulfill the yearning deep within her. Yes, she was restless, but, what burden she was carrying to pass up Phillip,
It is through our everyday journey in life That we give God the highest praise.
From the overabundance of foods they grew, each sibling brought the fruit of their labor to the family table. Mealtimes were a delight, with each family member's perfected specialty brought to the large dining table. Compliments went out for the most delicious food. Meals were like a catered service, offering an array of savory dishes, including goat marinated in thyme, scallions, black pepper, and the finest Jamaican curry; or escovitch fish, which is marinated with a peppery vinegar-based dressing and served smothered with sautéed onions, fried plantains, bami, Jamaican gangue peas, and rice. And there was fresh fruit. But despite the delicious reaping and the camaraderie of family working, playing, and enjoying life together, Careen wanted more. She wanted something different.
Excerpted from "Dad, I Wrote!"
Copyright © 2018 Beverly Braxton.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Psalm 139:1-18, ix,
Chapter 1 Careen, 1,
Chapter 2 The Undertows of Tradition, 12,
Chapter 3 Joan a.k.a. Charlotte, 19,
Chapter 4 A New Way of Life, 26,
Chapter 5 The Gift, 48,
Chapter 6 Karen, 63,
Chapter 7 Blind Faith, 76,
Chapter 8 Black or White?, 85,
Chapter 9 True to God and True to Yourself, 88,
Chapter 10 Who Are You?, 93,