Seth had just come back from Jamaica and called to discuss the wedding. I could not bring myself to tell him I was not going to be his best man. I lied
”Give me the details as we get closer”, I told him.
”Just be in Negril 2 days before the wedding”, he replied, “You will need to size your rental tuxedo”
”I will”, I replied confidently.
The wedding was going to be on the 7-mile beach in Negril at an all-inclusive hotel. Krystal Yu’s parents had gone all out on the wedding as it was their only daughter.
When I hung up the phone I realized that the wedding was 10 weeks away. I felt guilty about leading him on all this time. It would not be fair to Seth if I waited too long to tell him right before the wedding. He would have to find someone new in a short time.
I decided I had to tell him. I was not sure how but I had to tell him.
Now was not the right time to focus on telling him as I was on the final stretch of getting my bachelors degree in Business. I was studying for my final exams that week. Graduation would be 2 weeks after. I would tell Seth next week once I completed all my exams.
“I have something to tell you,” I had called Seth a week after completing my final exams.
“Are you okay? You sound really down” Seth replied.
”I am okay. It is about me being the best man at your wedding”, I paused.
”What is it?” he sounded concerned.
”I can’t be the best man at your wedding, I am..”, I replied.
”What! Why cant you?” Seth interrupted me before I was able to complete my sentence.
”It’s complicated. I am in the middle of getting my green card and I can’t travel right now” I replied.
”I don’t understand. I thought you were a US citizen” Seth said.
”I am not a US citizen. I am trying to get a green card “
”I don’t understand”
”My uncle filed for my father and our family.” It was a half truth. My uncle did file for my father but not for me. The chances of my father getting a green card through my Uncle were slim. It would take over 15 years before he would get a green card and file for me. It would take another 8-15 years after that for me to get a green card if I stayed unmarried.
“Seriously, you have to explain to me what that means.” Seth sounded frustrated.
”Did Krystal explain anything to you about how Jamaicans can migrate here?”.
I was a little surprised that Seth did not know more about immigration issues being that his fiancé Krystal Yu was Jamaican. Then I realized she probably had no reason to move here and never discussed it with him.
It is always a challenge explaining immigration to an American. They never had to deal with it before. They don’t understand the difficult process of immigration. Some Americans resented illegal aliens being here as they claimed we were stealing jobs from Americans.
After a long explanation on how things work. Seth asked
”So why did you not tell me this months ago. Maybe I could have helped. I could write a letter or something.”
I admired his gesture to help but he still did not get it.
”That would not work. They have a strict process that requires a wait.”
He was silent.
Then he asked about my sister, Sue.
”How is Sue able to travel back and forth to Jamaica?”
”She had a student’s visa. I had a visitor’s visa. My visitor’s visa has expired. Her visa was up-to-date so she could travel back and forth” I explained.
”I know what a student visa is. Krystal has one. Can you get to replace the one that is expired?”
”No. I can’t get another one.”
”I am so sorry for you. It sounds like a complicated process. Is there anything I can do? “
”You sure,” he asked. I could hear some disbelief in his voice.
“Maybe find me a wife. That is the fastest way right now.” I said with a big laugh.
“You are joking, right” he said cautiously.
”Yes, I am joking.”
We changed topic. Seth talked about his visits to Jamaica in the past couple months and how amazing the country was. He loved the natural beauty of the island and the friendliness of the people. I think he realized I was silent because I could not travel back to Jamaica.
”Can you help me out when my family comes to town. I need some help with pick-ups at the airport and drop offs back to the airport,” Seth asked.
”Sure,” I replied.
It was the least I could do. I knew his family from our trip there so it was not going to be a problem. https://www.jamaicans.com/culture/illegal/illegalalien69.shtml
After hanging up I felt relieved. A weight had been lifted off my mind after my confession.
The empty room in my townhouse was finally rented. John found a Jamaican man who was looking for a place to rent. His name was Mr. Eustace Brown. A good “old English” first name that I had difficulty pronouncing. Older Jamaicans were fond of these unusual English names and gave them to their children. My generation had more normal names.
Mr. Brown was in his 50’s and came from St. Thomas. He had just moved to Miami from Jamaica. His daughter who lived in Atlanta had filed for him. He did not want to move there as he did not like the cold. His wife had passed away from a stroke. He was tall and very muscular. He would do push-ups and other exercises every morning outside the front of the house. He was into health living and food. He was a Seventh Day Adventist and observed a Sabbath on Friday’s after 6:00 pm through 6:00 pm Saturday religiously.
I became his guide to Miami. He asked questions about everything. What was it like moving here? How did I adjust? Mainly he asked about getting around. He did not have a job but was searching hard. He bought the newspaper everyday looking through the classifieds for jobs. Every morning he left the house at 7:00 am to catch the bus for places with job openings. On a few occasions I dropped him off at locations. Within 2 weeks of moving in he had his first job as inventory counter. It was a day job. He also wanted a night job and found one 3 weeks later at UPS sorting packages for shipping. He had to buy a car to get around. He bought an old White Cadillac. You could hear the car from a mile away as it had a blown muffler which he never seemed to get around to fixing.
I barely saw him as he would be either be working or sleeping. That was great as we stayed out of each others way.
My graduation was supposed to be a non event. I was not planning to attend but things changed.
“I am coming for your graduation”, my mother said.
“There is no need for that. Save your money “
“No, I am coming. I am really proud of you and want to see you get your certificate.” She insisted she was coming.
I did not fight her. I could use the company and I had not seen my mother in years. We spoke at least 5 times a month but there is nothing like seeing a familiar face.
I picked her up at the airport early on the Saturday morning a week before my graduation ceremony. I was excited to take her to my house but she wanted us to make a stop first. She wanted to go to the Jamaican supermarket. I was smiling inside; I was going to have a Jamaican home cooked meal everyday. My mother was a great cook. Even though we always had a helper at home she insisted on cooking. My belly was in for a treat.
I figured that I would sleep on the couch and my mother would have my room. Mr Brown was barely there so I would not get in his way. My mother thought differently. She said we could share the bed. She insisted and I obliged.
I took 2 days off from work that week. I had a lot of vacation time which I never used. I was not going anywhere for vacation. The place I really wanted to go I could not. It would also have time in the day to spend with my mother now that I was done with school and worked the night shift.
The first day of my mothers visit we spent catching up. First she talked about Sue being that she used to live with me. I missed Sue more than I ever thought. We barley spoke often as she was busy with her life in Jamaica. It seemed Sue may not be going to Canada soon as I thought. Apparently she now had a boyfriend that my mother was very fond of. He was the prototype of what she was looking for. He was an “uptowner” from a decent family. He had studied engineering at NYU and came back to Jamaica to help run the family architecture business.
She talked about my other sister, Kerri, who was now close to graduating and was considering going to England to finish her studies.
She talked about relatives on her side of the family. She talked about our neighbors. She even talked about some of my high school friends she saw around town. She talked about everyone except my father.
It was great waking up to a Jamaican breakfast in the mornings courtesy of my mother. She did my laundry and the house was clean. We went mall hopping during the day. My mother went straight for the luxury stores. I was a bit concerned as they were having some financial difficulties. I guess they were over it. My mother was buying Prada and Louis Vuitton at Lord & Taylor’s. I asked no question as it seemed to make her happy. I also benefited as she bought me a few bottles of cologne and some polo shirts.
My mother loved wine. She had us all drink at Christmas dinners growing up. I did not care for it but would drink it at social events. She had a glass of wine every night. She claimed it was good for the heart and relieved stress.
She would always tell us, “Always keep a bottle of wine at home to celebrate a special occasion”
Sue always kept 2 bottles in the house. My mother found them on the first day she arrived. It was not expensive wine, but the cheap type you got in the supermarket.
One evening after dinner my mother had a little too much to drink. She finally talked about my father. It was not good.
She talked about his cheating and all the women she knew he had an affair with. I was surprised to find out that he used to sleep with one of his friend’s wife. My mother knew everything. She had even caught him two times but left the house before he discovered she was there. She kept sleeping with him with the fear that he could bring some disease home to her from one of his women.
She stayed married to him because of us. She saw how hard it was for single women raising children and she did not want us to suffer. she loved the lifestyle that our father allowed us to live and she stayed because of it. She kept quiet for years and then he stopped after his bout with prostate cancer. She never confronted him about his affairs, but she was at her breaking point. A young woman from Cuba was calling the house for my Dad. He had been traveling there once a month. He was not discreet about this affair and was shoving it in her face. What really hurt her was that she nursed him back to health when he was sick. She was the only one there for him. She thought his sickness brought them closer together. She thought that would change him. It did not.
She gripped my hand and took a sip of another glass of wine. She then started to cry.
What should I do? Should I leave him?
It was an awkward moment. My mother was asking me for advice.
She continued crying and squeezing my hand. Next she hugged me. I hugged her back. She fell asleep in my arms on the couch in the living room. Eventually I got her to go to the room to bed.
My mother woke up late the next morning.
“I have such a headache. Was I drunk last night?” She asked
“I think so” I replied.
“I don’t remember a thing” she replied looking away.
She did remember she was just embarrassed. The look on her face said it all.
Mr. Brown was there that morning. He and my mother struck up a conversation. She knew some people from St.Thomas that he knew. Mr. Brown kept telling her he could not believe she was my mother because she looked so young. She giggled and smiled when he said this. Mr Brown was a charmer and I had to keep my eyes on him with my mother around. I was happy he was barely there. My mother was vulnerable right now and could be easy prey. I may not like what my father has done to her but I did not want to see the marriage end. I cannot imagine my parents not being together, it was all I knew.
It was graduation day. It was a morning ceremony. Steven and his girlfriend Kelly came. He also brought Donesha, who was my carpool friend from work came. John and Lecia also came. Seth and Krystal came to the event though they were a little over month away from their wedding and were busy with planning the move. I introduced everyone to my mother. My mother sat with all my friends in the graduation hall. As I sat with the other graduates I heard a few of them mention how nervous they were. I was not nervous just wanted to get it over with. It took me longer than the typical student to get to this point because of the cost and me having to work while attending college.
When they called my name I heard a scream and hands clapping. I later learned it was my mother.
We went to lunch after my graduation at TGI Friday’s. My mother insisted on paying for everyone. She and Seth hit it off once he mentioned he was moving to Jamaica. She told him to come by the house anytime.
On the way back my mother asked me if I was going out with Donesha. I understood why she would ask that questions as Donesha and I spent a lot of time together talking during my “graduation lunch”.
“No, she is just a friend,” I replied.
She joked about bringing back some Indian blood in the family. We spent the evening shopping as my mother was leaving the next morning. It was a great visit. I was happy she came. The next day when I dropped her at the airport it was like my mother did not want to leave. She did not want to go home to my father.
As we said out final goodbyes she gave me a hug. It was the tightest and longest hug she had ever given me. She did not want to let go,
She stepped back .
“I love you”
“I love you too mommy”
“You have grown into a fine young man. Promise me that you will never be like your father.”
I did not know what to say.
She walked away pulling her carry-on bag with a smile on her face.