Devon Dick | Has your life brought joy to others?
Recently, I watched, for the first time, the 2007 film The Bucket List, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. This American comedy-drama is about two terminally ill men who checked themselves out of the hospital and embarked on a fulfilment of their wish list before they kick the bucket. They had a bucket list of commendable things to do before dying, including helping a complete stranger for good. However, what arrested my attention was when Freeman asked Nicholson, 'Has your life brought joy to others?'
Today marks 32 years since I married Mary Elizabeth and the movie had me wondering whether my life has brought joy to hers. Like Nicholson, I will not try to answer that question but, rather, say that 'others' will have to answer.
What I can say is that Mary has brought joy to my life. How so? It is because of her love and concern for me. She always has my back covered. She looks out for my best interest and wants the best for me. She does not complain about my short-comings, well, except one.
And for the first five years of marriage, when I was the pastor at Fletcher's Grove Baptist, Sandy Bay, Hanover, and she worked at Mutual Life in Montego Bay, then a 30-minute drive, she took public transportation to work most times. It never crossed my cranium that I could take her to work and pick her up, even when I did not have an appointment in Montego Bay. It was the late Hugh Gillette Chambers, a colleague pastor who never got married, who told me that sometimes I could just go to Montego Bay with the sole purpose to pick up my wife. Unfortunately, at that time I did not understand that role. And she never complained.
Like the proverbial wife, Mary, being creative, would use an heirloom sewing machine to make clothes for the family. In addition, she would supply pastry items to a cafe in Sandy Bay and later to a school cafeteria in Kingston in order to augment our incomes. Furthermore, for her it was an act of sharing when we went to a restaurant and ordered a meal and we shared that one meal right there. The important lessons were enjoying each other's company and sharing whatever we have.
Mary is always considering the most vulnerable. It was 2003 when I was accepted to be a full-time student in pursuit of a PhD in Caribbean studies at the University of Warwick in England. I thought the whole family would accompany me. However, all three children were in high school and were adamant that they were not leaving Jamaica. Mary said she cannot leave the children, claiming it was easier for me to manage on my own than to leave the children in the care of someone else. I was disappointed in her position then, but looking back, it was a wise decision.
Amazingly, for 32 years, Sunday after Sunday she listens to me preach and she never complains and, to the best of my knowledge, is not tired of hearing me; perhaps because she gets an opportunity to use her Toastmasters skills, providing helpful evaluation of my sermon delivery. Furthermore, throughout the exercise of my pastoral ministry she has been the main touchstone for insights and ideas. Where I get credits undeservedly, most should go to her.
What has been important is companionship. We enjoy each other's company no matter where, whether it is in the Caribbean or on any of the continents we have travelled; in Mary's rural community of Carlton, St James, which, by any stretch of the imagination, must have the worst roads in Jamaica, or in the bright lights of St Thomas, where I am from. Incidentally, we spent our first wedding anniversary at the luxurious Bath Fountain.
Perhaps we all should ask God to help us make our lives bring joy to others and let it be said of us, as was said by many persons of Ian Boyne, that he, through his programmes, brought joy to their lives.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com