Derrick Francis – ‘My children are the most precious gifts to me’
DERRICK FRANCIS has come a far way single-handedly raising his four children - three daughters and a son.
Two have now gone on their own, leaving him caring for a son and a daughter.
His eyes light up as he talks with Family & Religion about the journey which was not always easy, but for him very fulfilling.
"Their mother left them four times. She always comes back for a while and then leaves again. The fourth time when I stopped off work to check upon them, I came home to see them crying - she had walked out on them again," he said.
Douglas said his children's tears were his undoing, and from that moment, he knew he would be doing everything to ensure that they had stability in their lives - hence he took on the Herculean task of raising them alone.
With three girls, it meant he had to adopt additional skills, which included plaiting their hair.
With a smile, he said he was up for it. "I grew up with sisters and they taught me from early to do that, so it's like I was being prepared from early in life for this," he said.
Douglas said after plaiting his girls' hair and sending them off to school, he never got any complaints.
Cooking, washing, ironing, he has been doing them from childhood days. He is now thanking God for a mother who insisted he learnt all those skills growing up.
Raising his children alone, Francis said it meant a lot of sacrifices and denial on his part, but it is something he would never trade for the world.
Onika and Derrick Francis the two 'babies' left in the home are now representing Jamaica in table tennis with good results.
Their father could not be any prouder as their involvement was actually encouraged by him.
"I try not to miss any of their matches, although it's a challenge, financially, keeping up with them," he said.
"My children are the most precious gifts to me. There are days when it's a struggle, but seeing the smile on their faces, seeing the way they look up to me, I know I wouldn't have it any other way," he said.
Commenting on the all-important role he is playing in their lives, Francis said his wish is that more fathers would step up to the plate and do their jobs properly. He also blames some of the mothers who, he said, do not put more thought into the decision of the type of man they want to father their children.
"A child will not tie a man down, if he already has a family, then chances are, he won't have time for yours. Bringing a life into this world is not something that's trivial," said Francis.