No Regrets! Super stepdad fathers eight of his spouse's children
I WAS drawn to Alexander Lee by his soulful singing voice. He was selling mangoes at the intersection of East and North streets, near The Gleaner building some weeks ago, and singing at the same time. I engaged him in a conversation about his 'talent'. The chat eventually revealed that the man from Riversdale, St Catherine, has no registered children of his own, but is a stepfather to many.
'Jerry Butler', as Lee is popularly known, was invited to our newsroom to have a further chat. On Wednesday, he turned up with one of his stepsons, Stephen Fullerton, who is a budding singer/DJ himself. At stages in the discussion, they burst into song and deejaying, having a good time - stepfather and stepson.
This connection between them began from the night when Fullerton's mom invited Lee home to introduce him to her children. Fullerton recalled the moment when Lee arrived at his home. Lee wore a mesh merino vest, which should have gone past his waist down to the knees, but he said Lee's belly was so big, the vest stopped at his waist. That was many years ago, and Lee is still with his mother.
But why go into a relationship with a woman with eight children? Lee, whose parents had 10 children, said, "It's like a cow and a calf. Love the cow, and accept the calf ... . Love saved the day. Where you get love from, that's where you give back love."
It was a "proper joy" to meet the children for the first time, he said, and it was not hard to get into the family as all the children seemed to accept him, perhaps because he's a "down-to-earth" and "jovial person". Moreover, since he wanted a family of his own, he accepted the "ready-made" one. Yet, he said he regrets not getting any biological children, and it hurts.
Lee said he actually thought about what he was getting into. Some people said he shouldn't, but he saw the possibility of a bright future. It was for him to bring up the children the right way. Some of them were already grown, so fathering was not so challenging. He reached out to the younger ones, and the older ones reached out to him.
"Dem lean on me and me lean on dem," Lee explained.
Fullerton was one of the younger children. He had lost his own father when he was very young. He was a very strict man, he said. His mother went into depression after he passed. He had heard about Lee before the introduction, after which came the acknowledgement. The joy on his mother's face when they were introduced, he said, he will never forget, as for him, anything that makes his mother happy makes him happy.
Now, he said he knows more about Lee than about his father, and didn't mind what people outside of the family were saying about Lee's decision to settle with his mother and her many children. "He's a father-figure and I look up to him as a father ... I am the son he never had biologically," Fullerton asserted.
The aspiring entertainer is not yet a father, but he wouldn't mind being a stepfather himself, under certain circumstances. If you meet a woman you love and care for, it shouldn't be a problem, he said. The relationship between Lee and his mother seems to be an inspiration. Their "hard work" and "commitment", he said, make him a better man.
For Lee, taking on the woman with her eight children was his choice, and he has no regrets. So far, after 16 years, Patricia Watson, the mother of Lee's stepchildren, is not living in regret either. The man with whom she shares the same thoughts is a good, fun-loving man who is responsible, she said. Love abounds between Lee and her children, she said, and he's good with them. For her and the sometime preacher man, wedding bells will be ringing very soon.