Devon Dick, Contributor
A FEW days ago, as Fathers Day was approaching, I began to reflect on my father who fathered me. His legacy has inspired my life in so many ways.
My father, Willard Sherman Dick was a strong man and a protector. He served in the RAF in the Second World War that ended in 1944. He would have loved to be at the 60th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France. He spoke with pride about his service during the War. He was a sharpshooter who won prizes for his skill. He served with honour in Britain. When he returned to Jamaica, he treasured owning a rifle and a handgun.
My father and his wife Cynthia owned a business, which suffered two serious break-ins. One I remember was the time armed robbers broke into the shop, which had the family home attached to it, and demanded money. He stayed in his bedroom for hours with his gun in his hand awaiting the gunmen. He never gave in to them. He taught me to be fearless in danger and not to give in to robbers. He was never afraid of persons who threatened to burn down the shop or to take his life.
With our ever-increasing murder rate we need courageous people to put a halt to this vicious cycle of murders. My father taught me to value teamwork and delegation of responsibility. He was a Jack-of-all-trades and master of most. He was an excellent shoemaker; a neat wrapper of flour and sugar. In addition, his other jobs included working in the Banana Industry and in the 1970s at JAMAL as a teacher. He said that since he could do most things well he would concentrate on doing what others could not do well while expecting them to do what they could.
As a father he taught me to respect the opinions of others. He was a staunch socialist. He was very impressed with the socialism that he witnessed in Britain and he thought a similar policy and programmes would be good for Jamaica. However, he never pressured his children to vote for his political party but we would argue about the merits of each party and each candidate and vote according to our choice. As a father he taught me to acknowledge and respect but not to fear authority. Before I was even a student in high school I could challenge him on any issue. If I thought his practice was not consistent with his Christian faith, I could and did speak to him about it. My father never forced religion on us but insisted that we attend church. He was a Circuit Steward in the Methodist Church and also a local preacher. He was disappointed when I became a Baptist but I was not ostracised. When I felt the call to pastoral ministry he would prefer a different profession. One of his sons, Leon, was a surgeon while another, Ainsworth, was a land surveyor, so he wanted me to get a similarly 'high-profile' profession. He even said that I should get a profession, such as teaching, before entering the ministry. I did not like the idea then, but now I appreciate the merits of his suggestion. My father taught me to be helpful around the house. He could cook; wash dishes; clean the floor; make drinks including egg punch; sew up (mend) his own clothes and he manicured his own nails regularly. Finally, he was a churchman, who never missed worship service on a Sunday.
I saw the interview on TVJ with Ian Boyne (Profile) and the owners of Asylum nightclub claiming that no matter how late the nightclub was closed on a Sunday morning, they were always in church on a Sunday. They reminded me of my father. No matter how late the shop was closed the night before, we would all be in church on the Sunday. In fact, I recall one Sunday it rained heavily and when there was a break in the showers, my father, with me as a pillion rider, rode his bicycle to the church. When we arrived, no one was there, not even the pastor.
As a young boy, I would also accompany my father as he visited the sick and shut-in. I enjoyed visiting the elderly and the hymns ministered to me, especially when they draw (sing slowly) the songs. Perhaps deep in my consciousness these experiences along with other factors influenced my decision to become a pastor. I would encourage all fathers to father your sons and daughters, influencing their lives with positive values so that even when you leave this life, your light will continue to shine through them. Leave them a legacy they'll always cherish and anticipate with pride, Fathers' Day.
The Rev Devon Dick is pastor of Boulevard Baptist Church and author, 2002 edition 'Rebellion to Riot: The Jamaican Church in Nation Building.'