It was a cool and pleasant afternoon in Boone, North Carolina in May of 2020 when all of a sudden, I felt inspired to write the story of my life’s journey. The desire to write all of it down has been a heavy burden and I have wanted to do this for a very long time. Many of my American friends have encouraged me over the years to do it, especially when I would share extracts of where I was born and how I lived life in a tiny village called Fyrish on the Northern coast of Guyana in South America. They all found my life exceptionally interesting and were fascinated by the events they didn’t hear every day.
The motivation came when my brother Steve passed away on April 28, 2020 as a result of Covid-19. He was a full gospel Evangelist and pastor of his church and was respected all over the world. This was quite heartbreaking because he had just retired six months prior from the New York Transit after working there for 25 years. Family members tried to justify his death by saying that his “mission” was over. However, I don’t think so because he had so many plans and a vision that was very personal to his well-being. How do we justify death and the dark feelings we suffer? Even with the passing of time, the scar of his death, as well as others in my life, still haunt me. I know we are stronger than death and must face it with full force to live through it and move forward. My mother has been crying every day for months now as I try to console her with words of kindness and encouragement and to experience the goodness of Steve. As I sat down to write my story, I have realized that life is too short. I felt an urgency to share my story and to capture some of the essence of what life was like growing up in a strange land.
I turned 65 on December 10, 2019 and I believe that I had to get to that number in order to feel motivated enough to open my heart, tap into my memory, and just let it fly. I lost my wife to cancer on December 20, 2015 and my father on January 30, 2016. These two incidents also made me realize that I needed to share these thoughts with you, and most importantly, with my two kids and grandchildren. I want them to know who I am and what my journey was like. My son Peter and my daughter Melanie were born in the USA and have never seen my home country. Maybe I was too caught up in the system of working, raising a family, and going to night school to take the time to make that trip. I know that is not a good excuse, but perhaps it is never too late. I made a trip back to Guyana in January of 2019 after being absent for almost 34 years.
A lot had changed in Guyana but the feeling was still the same. The smell of the humid air and the burning heat of the sun awakened my senses as I saw myself as a little boy running in the swamps. I had decided last minute to accompany my brother Oscar on his yearly pilgrimage to the home country. He was quite excited to take me around to the old haunts and to connect with people I barely knew. Old stories surfaced and we reminisced about folks we knew and who had passed away.
I do not consider myself to have the eloquent expressive language of the literary greats, but I will write here in the layman’s language that is easy to read. I tried to encompass my story, touching on different aspects of the social, political, and lifestyle of growing up in a village hidden from the world at large. I even take you on my search for the epic life and how I became a parent; a caregiver; and a musical artist. Our world is changing with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is my greatest wish deep in my heart for life to return to normal and to reclaim the freedom to live without a mask.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Leaving Home for Canada. 7
Chapter Two: My Early Beginnings. 12
Chapter Three: Politics and Village life. 21
Chapter Four: My Early School Years. 27
Chapter Five: Boyhood Adventures and Chores. 35
Chapter Six: My Highschool Years. 43
Chapter Seven: Technical School and Rock & Roll 53
Chapter Eight: Romance and Village Life. 61
Chapter Nine: Fishing and Hunting Adventures. 74
Chapter Ten: Ethnic Holiday Adventures. 82
Chapter Eleven: My Life in Canada. 93
Chapter Twelve: My Shocking Return to Guyana. 111
Chapter Thirteen: My Wild Life in Suriname. 122
Chapter Fourteen: Penpal in Trinidad, a Military Coup, and a Visit to Guyana. 138
Chapter Fifteen: My Life in New York City. 149
Chapter Sixteen: True Love. 159
Chapter Seventeen: Return to Guyana and Fatherhood. 164
Chapter Eighteen: My Life in Houston, Texas. 171
Chapter Nineteen: Exploring the U.S. and the Netherlands. 182
Chapter Twenty: Music, Celebrations, Close Calls, and Cancer 187
Chapter Twenty-One: My Time as a Caregiver 203
Chapter Twenty-Two: My Father’s Death and New Beginnings. 215
Chapter Twenty-Three: My Life in Boone, North Carolina. 224
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Year of Reconnection. 232
Chapter Twenty-Five: Reflections on the Pandemic and Honoring My Brother’s Life. 251