Mon | Apr 24, 2017

A moving tale of a father's love

Published:Sunday | June 21, 2015 | 6:00 AMKeisha Hill

While almost any man can father a child, there is so much more to being a father in a child's life. A father's love is just as important to a child's development as a mother's, and sometimes more so, suggests a series of reviews published between 1949 and 2001.

Fathers are key in all the ways mothers are. In his book The Measure of a Dad, writer Hartley Palmer highlights the important role that fathers do play in the lives of their children. A very profound publication, the book unearths the ultimate parenting story in a patriarchal setting, extolling the depth of a father's love for his children.

Palmer recounts his childhood days, growing up with his father and brother in east rural St Andrew. Although considered as being poor, he quickly stated that his father, Neville Palmer, never gave them the impression that were in dire straits. "My father would buy a bottle of soda and when he got home after a hard day's work, he would take a sip and pass the bottle to me and my brother for us to also have a drink. He really loved us, but these words were not often spoken. It was the little things that he did that showed us that he really cared," Palmer said.

From an early age, Palmer saw his artistic abilities developing, but paid very little attention to it. As a student of the St Martin de Porres Primary School, he would help his classmates with their projects - drawing and sometimes sketching images for them. He also liked listening to Jamaican folklore and this, he said, influenced his storytelling abilities.

Inspired to write

However, while Palmer was a student at the Papine High School during preparations for his English literature examinations, he read Shane, written in 1949 by Jack Schaefer. He saw himself in the book and this became the turning point for him in his desire to become a writer. "I had to write a short story, The Dread and Terrible Landlord, that my teacher read in front of the entire class. It was the best one of all the students in the class," Palmer said.

After high school, he started writing poems, but felt the need to dedicate his efforts in honour of his father. "I was very close to my father. It's as if we read each other's minds. In everything he did, I saw a different kind of love and more so that he sacrificed his entire life for us," Palmer said.

The Measure of a Dad is a tribute to his father with each chapter highlighting the fact that strong fathers do exist. "I just want persons to know that there are fathers that provide for their children and show them all the love they need. We didn't have much but people thought we had it all. He taught us to be satisfied with what we had and in all things to give thanks," Palmer said.

The original manuscript was written more than 12 years ago and was titled 'Alone with Papa'. He wrote another novel, I want to be a Don, which was successfully published and received much acclaim for its epic storyline. Following his father's passing in 2008 from prostate cancer, Palmer felt it was the right time to document the journey of his father, the challenges he faced, especially as he battled cancer and dealt with his son's incarceration.

Since the book's launch earlier this year, Palmer's primary objective is for the material to be used as a literature resource in schools; not just in Jamaica but in the Caribbean. He also has aspirations of taking the storyline to the big screen. The Jamaica Library Service, he said, is currently reviewing the book to be used in its National Reading Competition this year.

The Measure of a Dad is published by Pelican Publishers Limited, with book design and layout by Pelican Graphics and cover illustrations by Georgiann Cowan.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com