Chapter X – 1993
I am Jude. It’s December 16th 1993. Dionne and I are back in Truro, living in a small, top floor apartment on Elm St. Following my graduation from Dalhousie University, I am enrolled in the Continuing Education program at the Nova Scotia Teacher’s College while determining whether to pursue teaching or social work. I am studying for my final exam before the Holidays.
Meanwhile, Dionne is nine months pregnant. Her doctor’s appointment the previous day revealed that she was dilated, but just 1cm. She was told everything was fine, and that there were no indications of an immiment delivery. Naturally though, this was stressful.
At 5:30am that morning, Dionne wakes up complaining of stomach pain and discomfort. She is not due to deliver until December 24th, so although we are concerned, there is no panic. She tries to get comfortable and I go back to staring blankly at my study materials.
At 8:45am I leave to write my 9:00am exam after being reassured by Dionne that it was only false labour. I report to the gymnasium, which has been transformed into a gigantic examination room. I sit down, review the questions several times and make a couple half-hearted attempts to provide some responses. However, the truth is, I knew what was up before I even walked into the building. My mind was elsewhere.
I probably could have told the taxi to wait for me because fifteen minutes later I was on the move. By 9:20am, I had passed in my mostly empty foolscap and was back at our apartment, just as Dionne was leaving for the hospital.
She was admitted immediately and I got to experience the miracle of your delivery….
Then at 4:06pm you were here.
Keisha, although I was nowhere near ready, I wanted you. You changed my life! I was only 23 years old but after you were born, I was different. I was still young and immature as hell but your welfare and well-being instantly became my priority. As a new father, I know I came up short on occasion but I tried to consider you in all of my subsequent decision-making. I tried to Be Better.
Yes, I still partied too hard and had way too many hangovers, but I was more responsible. I made a commitment to creating a good life for you with your mother. For us, Team Clyke! I wanted you to avoid the bias, stigma and stereotypes I experienced growing up in a single parent household.
I knew it was crucial that I was present and actively involved in every aspect of your life. I bathed and fed you, took you everywhere and showered you with love and affection. I did my best to provide you with stability, direction, support and opportunities I didn’t have.
I truly cherish our special times together. They are etched in my mind and are among my most valued possessions.
And then there was basketball….
I began coaching you when you were only seven years old. And through luck and circumstance, I was afforded opportunities to coach you until you graduated from high school. That’s crazy!!!! From the Truro Jammers, the Community YMCA, club summer travel teams and high school at CEC, we were always connected. Not to mention, the mandatory one on one training sessions.
What I recall most, though, are not any personal accolades, team successes or provincial team selections, I remember the laughs and meaningful discussions we shared during our long drives and quiet moments. Believe me, in retrospect I would do some things differently. I would be more patient, understanding and considerate but I do not regret one single moment we spent together. The memories are too priceless.
I love our current relationship. I appreciate that we are being deliberate about spending time together again. I value our private conversations and I thank you for the gift of your children. They have re-invigorated our home and have brought another level of happiness into our hearts.
I was my mother’s pride and joy. I was her only child and she invested what little she had into providing for my needs and creating a better life for me. She affectionately called me ‘Papa’. It was her special way of referring to me and it is one of my most closely held memories. Up to a couple years ago, I was convinced I could still hear her faded voice saying it in my head. The way only she said it.
I, in turn, purposely called you ‘Mama’. It reminded me of my mother and some of the intimate moments we shared together. Now I hear you calling the Cubs ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’. It feels like a tribute to her every time you say it. It makes me smile inside knowing that a part of her continues to live on through her great grandchildren.
Sadly, Myra Greta Clyke passed away three short months after you were born. She only got to spend a short time with you and it was not nearly enough. Taking care of children was one of her passions. She babysat all of her life and although she never told me directly, I knew she always wanted a girl.
I am happy she got to see her princess before her sudden and unexpected passing. However, I’m greedy. I still lament the positive influence I know she could have played in your life. Damn….
Side Hustle Update – Unshackled Solutions Coaching and Consulting
I continue to make connections with other certified life coaches and pursue self-study. I have been deliberately focusing on the ICF competencies and practical skills and I am beginning to connect the dots. I now know that my personal practice will involve a combination of disparate theories, strategies and understanding associated with the change process. I’m encouraged.
Your Next Best Read – Black Fatigue – by Mary Frances-Winters
This book was written by a Canadian-born author although most of the information and examples refer to the African American experience. It provides an overview of the emotional, mental and physical costs of racism in the lives of Black people. It is on point and timely!
Even better, Black Fatigue was chosen as the inaugural novel for a new national book club in November for Black employees within Corrections Service Canada.
Positive Reflections – What’s Good?
I was lucky. For as long as I can remember, my daughter has had absolute certainty she wanted to be a nurse. I can’t recall her considering anything else. True to form, she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from my alma mater, Dalhousie University.
You always want your children to secure gainful employment and ‘to do better than you’. This is especially true within the Afrikan community. You hope that your son or daughter can navigate the destructive consequences of otherness. As outlined in the book above, the psycho-emotional consequences, health-related costs and limiting effects of racism are real.
Beyond the academic and professional accomplishments, Keisha graduated into adulthood. She completed a very demanding program while experiencing her fair share of struggle and adversity. As a young African Nova Scotian woman trying to find her way, she walked through the fire and I couldn’t be more proud of her!
She found ONE of her passions in nursing. Understanding the significance that work plays in our daily lives, it’s a blessing to know that your child truly enjoys what they do. Nursing is a challenging profession, so it also makes you feel good knowing that they have the right disposition and abilities to be successful.
My daughter takes pride in what she does and recognizes the awesome responsibility of providing care for people when they are sick and most vulnerable. By all accounts, she is well-respected by her colleagues and has a great bedside manner. The next step is developing confidence reflective of her professional competency. And that will come with time, I’m sure of it.
Public Service Announcement
Keep going Mama! I see you exploring your understanding of the ‘Spirit’ and trying to live more intentionally. I applaud your efforts to strengthen relationships with friends and family members and create new traditions that benefit both us and your children.
You are a new and improved version of yourself. Never allow the past define you. Live in the moment, celebrate the people who care about you and live out your dreams. Love yourself and keep striving to Be Better. It’s inspirational and the Cubs need your example.
I am truly thankful that this platform allows me to express how proud and blessed I am to be your father. I love you Keisha Paris-Clyke. I am Jude.
3 replies on “THE BOOK OF JUDE – Chapter X”
This was beautiful Jude. You should be very proud. Great job done.
My heart! Your ability to tell a story is powerful. Thank you for honouring our princess. You are the KING of our castle. I love you Jude Clyke. xoxo
I love the glimpses of Black Love, Black Joy, Black resilience and Black struggle you share with us Jude! Thank you for sharing your story; you’re a brilliant storyteller and your words are impactful🖤