O lo’u tama / Mon papa / My dad

My good looking dad – forever in our hearts.
Edward Barry Jackson.

Born in India to Irish/English parents, left for England as a teen, and from there, the first 2 Jacksons were born – 7 more were to come upon his move to NZ/Samoa/Fiji, including my Fijian sister Talei (:

I met my eldest sibling, Leigh for the first time in 2005 in Marseille, thanks to Omega who is the sibling that connects people. I’m so glad I met her and connect.
We all look similar!
Cherelle and I don’t remember our dad as much as my older siblings, because we were only little moepis when he died.
For years, I’ve tried to uncover memories of him, but only funny snippets are clear, like standing with Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson in the minivan (at the front seats while he drove, and playing in the cocoa plantation until we got told off. And I remember his belongings, the closed shoes(boots apparently), belts, trousers, blazers. Strange things which didn’t make sense to us since we were mainly females in a tropical Savaii, what are boots for?

The people who knew my dad used to say to us, “Ma’umau pe aga soifua le kou kama”( if only your dad was still alive). We heard this a lot, particularly when one of us was coming first in something or winning something, usually Omega. Obviously when we were up to no good, the same was uttered in a harsher tone. While we were not from a well-off family, we never went without food – aside from the elegi and rice struggle at Lalovaea (refer Cherelles hate of tinned fish). Otherwise, we were the luckiest children ever, growing up in Savaii among family, learning the beauty and the woes of our culture,, knowing who we are and being strong in our values but never feeling trapped or confined. The world was our oyster and we had much to celebrate.

So while his passing is sad, he’s given us a wonderful start in life. And perhaps it’s his absence which pushed us all to work that little bit harder to do well. Maybe we’d have been spoilt little brats if he was around to catch us when we fell. Instead, we grew up with mother dearest’ whose mantra was: “Well, you have fallen now, think about it and get back up, then teach everyone how not to fall😂😂

I want to say I miss my dad, but that seems strange because I don’t know what life is like, with a dad. But it doesn’t lessen my love for him. And I love that he loved my mom so much and expressed it so. I am looking now at a letter he wrote to Mom on the 10th March 1974 from Devonport, New Zealand, it reads:

“I must tell you my sweet love that I miss you every minute and I love you to distraction. I think things will work out here but whatever happens, the first rule will apply. My heart breaks for you my Sweeting and I so miss Simona. I cannot say enough about loving you – but believe me – and I know you know – I would die without you. Whatever problems and however long I will love you. Off with this now my sweetest love, love to the other beasts – Oh God I wish you were here with me – tomorrow I start the work for our future.
All my deepest love”

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