“It was  the best of times, it was the worst of times”, as the phrasing goes, were it not for the reality of the situation. How far back can you go to go forward while being present? Alas, possibly like so many others I’m able to ascertain my heritage in bits ‘n pieces gleaned from motherly tales and memory., and by them I am amazed at my presence! Consider…

Somewhere in recent history, say 200 years or less, when the world’s population was less cohesive, a mite volatile through circumspection, it was incubating a curious microcosm within its macrocosmic structure. Some of these were spread over the known world, but through strange happenstance these nationalities brushed against one another precipitating hybrids which begat hybrids of their own. I speak of my fore-bearers all whom I’ve yet to be familiar.

Grandmother's Family

During the early years, on the matriarchal side of my family an Irish slave-owner took to wife a favoured slave. She begat offsprings who had the distinct fortune in those times to couple with other nationalities of British, Germanic, Scottish nationalities. The location of these couplings was the Caribbean where such was possible, albeit conditional as circumstances certainly must not have been as favourable as in the 21st century. I became aware of this aspect of my composition having a Irish-Scottish grandfather and a distinctly African-Mix grandmother, in my birthplace, Jamaica.

Now, on the patriarchal side the coupling was equally as distinct, as my fore-bearers were of East-Asian (Chinese), SouthEast-Asian (East Indian) and Central-American (Nicaraguan). My grandfather was decidedly of Chinese heritage and my grandmother of East Indian heritage. It was not until her passing were we enlightened to the fact that her family were Nicaraguan-East Indian. Better late than never, in spite of the addition of Nicaragua like other possibilities  having no effect from it being an unknown.

Patriarchal Grandparents

So, there you have it, a variety of nationalities cross-pollinating on an unknown soil with the indigenous populace in separate and diverse economic classes. One side, the patriarchal, appeared more family oriented, whereas the matriarchal appeared more open and transient. Still, they came together somehow and I was the primary conception, first of a multitude who added to the planets structure with contributions as varied as our backgrounds.

I have no knowledge as to the details of each set of couplings in the distant past. I mean, ask your self the question, given your knowledge of recent history of the past 50 years, how would ‘society-at-large’ engage with an Irish-African couple, one an actual slave-owner and the other the actually owned, slave? At least the interaction would have been less volatile there than on the North American soil called the Colonial United States! Now, how these other couplings occurred and managed may have been accordingly tolerated with social-class values asserted. How do British, German, Scottish, and other unknown nationalities couple within a society with master-slave dynamics and evolve into a culture denominated ‘Out of many, one people’?

The same can be asked of the other side, patriarchal, of the family. How do the Chinese, a rather discriminating culture, couple with an East Indian culture, similarly discriminating? And, keeping secret information, which must’ve been considered ‘important’, until both grandparents were deceased? What could have been the living conditions during such times that my father’s father would downplay his Chinese heritage until after marrying, and taking her maiden-name as the ‘family’ name? It appears the Sun and climate had his appearance looking like a mixture that he could pass himself off as non-Chinese, which experienced its share of discrimination as the East-Indians and Africans with the Europeans being top ‘o the heap! Well, they appeared to have made enough sacrifices to beget a son who was to sire yours truly.

The Father

Equally challenging, if not more so, must have been the dynamics of the African-European couplings which saw the birthing of the other in the pairing of my conception duo. Given the challenges of the times, similar yet with more oppositions, two young people of diverse heritages somehow came to be engaged in circumstances resulting in the conception of this writer.

Their lives were in no means easy, coming from what appears different social structures yet, like their progenitors they were drawn into a coupling scenario which gave birth to two offsprings. The Dynamics was to prove too much to handle and the couple were to return to their singularity, with the female determined to keep the offsprings!

Mother and Children

Her route was most challenging, bourn of troubles unimaginable that warranted choices and decisions that bore discomforting memories for her to this day. No amount of assurances from her offsprings suffices and, as it would appear, she still struggles to make things right in her sensibilities. There are times when we, sister and I, are reminded of her feelings of guilt when we least expected it, all the while hoping the past was long gone. But, like heritage it may be in the DNA construct. Memories were shared together, separately and with other family members while we were separated. Most, if not all will remain in Time.

Father and Children

After all is said and done, there remains the human spirit in living in this dimension and time. The wherefore’s and for what was remain mysteries best left to philosophers, psychologists, and religious folk needing a certainty. I’m unable/unwilling to ascertain/ascribe absolutes considering how I came to be. In spite of being an unknown until recent reflection, introspection and contemplation of the goings on in my life over the decades, I garner only glimpses of who/how I am. Out of the couplings through previous generations, with their unknown dynamics, their intrinsic inequalities that have bearing in concert with nurture and environmental influences have unfolded reflexively amidst a plethora of catalysts resulting in scenarios unsuspected/unexpected.

There is little hope in knowing any ancestral details from what is a word-of-mouth retelling. I am forced to be content/satisfied with current revelations, only knowing the ‘who’ and ‘from where’ with other specifics of interactions remaining a mystery.

I’m writing this as a way of describing a segment in Time/Space which is of no consequence to you save those involved, the players in this drama, as you might say. When I was young, possibly like you, I took everything to heart trusting there was no room for falsehood. In fact, falsehood didn’t as yet exist because speaking of things as they are was all that was known. Somewhere along the way I learned that not everything I was told was not altogether as they are/were.

Still, being under-socialized, I kept to myself most of the time with temporary forays in the company of family relations and friendlies. I kept my own company most often, with regular forays into Nature where I learned to internalize goings on. Observing in favour of speaking was my way of growth. I fell into a scenario that nurtured this behaviour throughout my formative years and into adolescence.

Of course, things got complicated as I grew into adolescence due to filial and economic conditions. Nearing adulthood I ventured to spread my wings into society in spite of the shortcomings of the social order not being favourable. It was this decision that put me in harms way and I learned in no uncertain terms, as my mother once said to me, “People didn’t go to the same Sunday School as you” on answering a question about being assaulted by people I’d considered friends. I took to learning how-to-defend myself, which had dramas of its own.

Throughout this process of learning I gained a focus and direction, unplanned and unexpected. I fell into the vocation of education and was accepted in Teaching. It liked me, and in turn I liked it until it appeared it didn’t after a time. As in all things, there are changes are humans progress in Time, so to speak. There is this downside to progress where momentum increases and all thought of caution is overridden in favour of the principle of risk-for-gain.

Eventually, errors surface and scapegoats instead of responsibility are sought claiming accountability as the reason. I got caught up in the hype as my undiagnosed issues (ADD/ADHD-Asthma-Dyslexia-etc.), due to my conditioning-by-Nature to observe-and-formulate coping-strategies which carried me throughout my educational years. It was a rough ride, especially with the changing social conditions of the sixties/seventies. I made it through somehow, and was operating on a suggestion of giving Teaching a try, which was a matter of conditions: right time – right place – skill set to match what was needed. Eventually, conditions changed and I was unable/unwilling to go with the flow of things I deemed unfavourable to supportive human interaction.

Self-Interest took centre stage and I was still operating under the premise of collaboration, co-operation towards harmonious co-existence. Throughout it all I forgot to include myself in the milieu of goings on. giving over my personal care to accommodating the desires/requests of others interpreted as mutually beneficial. Granted, the mutual benefits we not necessarily equitable, in fact they weighed on the side of the other I accepted as fair not realizing the growing distress to my psyche.

Conditions in and out of the classroom saw subtle changes which grew into to undermine self-care on my part due to the solitary lifestyle I lived. None was aware as I kept things internal while operating on a tight schedule which accommodated the masses roundabout me, each unaware of the other but aware of my reputation of effectively and efficiently getting things done. As this condition grew in a multitude of areas, some affectionately call multi-tasking, I became less and less aware of myself and what was happening to my life.

Every sector of my life, each unaware of the others, chided me whenever I expressed my feelings of despondency. It was as if they considered my doings are limited to their own sphere and I was surrounded by a plethora of people to feed my physical/psychological needs. I believed it myself, even when I was exposed to symptoms of an impending fall- insomnia, irritability, dizziness, poor eating habits, albeit nutritious. After amassing enough sick days to be critically ill for 3 years, it became clear I was headed to a burnout scenario. I began taking a day off here and there, then two-days at a time.

At this time, I was summarily notified I was close to qualifying for early-retirement which, given developing conditions, I began to consider as an viable option. On one weekend, one where I usually had an amiable social engagement which saw taking the first two days of the week off due to distress, I elected to not take the two-days-off as it was the week before the March Break. I felt good about that decision and went home feeling I was in good condition to manage the entire week. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While at home, projecting on activities for the week ahead, I stood up to prepare for what I’d had set in play psychologically. I stood up and fell down. I collapsed, lost control of all my faculties, my mobility and physical controls. I took to breathing to control my waning consciousness, called 9-1-1 making sure I had documentation of my person and waited. The EMS came quicker than expected, remembering there was an ambulance by the entrance I thought was for another resident. I hope there was no mix-up.

This is where it got very unusual. I had called the fellow that dropped me off, but he was unavailable to support me and my only family members I tried to contact were out for the evening. I left a message, and waited. I was retrieved, wheeled out into the ambulance and on the way it was decided I would be taken to a hospital on the other side of town bypassing three major hospital systems along the way. I was not of a mind to contend with goings on and arrived at the predetermined destination.

As I was checked-in, documentation supported, I was wheeled into a triage section after a brief spell in the hallway. As luck would have it, due to a message left on my sister’s phone, I was visited by an especial friend from my teen years. He sat with me a while and left to continue his own regards. I was most appreciative. Summarily, I was relocated into a semi-private room as per my insurance and plied with medication and rest, according to reading acquired by the medical staff.

I had a few friendly visitors, immediate family were out-of-country so, as per my usual standards, I was alone. In due time I was informed I’d be taken upstairs for a Stress Test. The time came and I was wheeled into a lab setting, not set up for the usual Stress Test to which I was accustomed seeing. I was told this was NEW, a simulation carried out through the use of a radioactive-serum. I believe I was given a document to sign, I couldn’t say for certain as I was being medicated and coping with my unusual ordeal. The needle was applied, serum and all, and my body began the simulation intended. After a time, a rather cordial and jovial medically clothed personnel entered chiming, “I’ve got the antidote” and was I ready to receive it? I was slightly annoyed at his casualness but was in no condition for a confrontation, under the circumstances.

I was wheeled back to my room, without follow-up to the test as far as I remember. Even after revelation to my personal physician, I was not informed of the incident’s results simply placed on blood-pressure medication and a 24-hr electronic-monitor. Henceforth, all that was of concern was my blood-pressure reading, a symptom and not of what I believe to be cause of my condition!

It did not occur to me to question my handlers, a condition of early childhood where trust in the system (family-relations-friends-society) was the norm. The incident occurred in 2006 and here it is 2015, and I don’t know how the radioactive isotope has affected my systems. I did not question the original hypothesis, side-effects and after-effects of the procedure considering my condition at-the-time.

Was the situation deliberately staged/managed from the EMS retrieval, the decision of hospital and experimental serum used to simulate my hypertension? The deed is done and I’m living with it, through it until such time I’m to depart this mortal coil. This is know for your edification.

How fare you as you depend on those in charge of your well being; after all, interdependence is the unaccounted norm, isn’t it!??

Don James


7th February 2015

20:28 hours


10th February 2015


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