Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 11th 2014 Contents C14
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, December 11, 2014
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constant laying down of the law about liming too
late, driving alone and driving within the law.
When I decided to go to England to study, I don t
think he believed I would actually go. He used to
ask, "So UWI don t have any master s degrees?"
Even when I got the money together and got my
student visa, he was still acting as if I was only going
on a holiday. Once I got there, and he had my number,
Frank would call just to see how I going, or how the
weather treating me, or if I was following some UK
political scenario he had read about.
For his 70th birthday, I came home and surprised
him. I never saw him react in the way he did. When
I turned up at home, he laughed, then he cried and
he asked Mummy, "Madge, Madge, you know about
all this girl?" and he couldn t stop telling my friend
Paul, who brought me from the airport, it was a good
thing his heart was strong.
Dad looked out for his extended family, and was
like a second father to my cousins, Pamela and Wendy.
He was proud of their achievements, as he was of
his great-niece and nephew Michelle and Dexter. He
made sure and kept in close touch with his sisters
Ruth---Auntie Baby and Dulcie---Auntie Doo Doo.
He was also open to establishing a relationship
with my older brother Clevon, whom he had not
seen for years. And he encouraged me to get to know
my sister Marcia.
Just when I thought I saw glimpses of the father
I wanted, my mother started to complain about his
odd behaviour. He would become angry with little
provocation, do strange things and ask weird ques-
tions. It was disconcerting and I didn t like the way
it affected Mummy.
When I came home in April 2012 to be with
Mummy as she battled cancer, Dad and I definitely
weren t on the same page. I didn t think he understood
the gravity of the situation and when I stepped in---
as any child in my position would probably do---we
clashed often, and quite robustly.
After Mummy died, I reflected on the situation
and drew on the tenets of my Buddhist faith, especially
the one about honouring your parents. I also felt that
making sure Dad and I were good was paying my
mother the ultimate compliment. And at the end of
the day, I did care pretty deeply about my father.
I realised I wanted Dad to be himself, but on my
terms. A Buddhist elder told me that I had to look
past Dad s flaws and treat with him, the individual
---the Buddha in him. I reached out and made him
aware that I wasn t going to abandon him.
It was at this point that I also had to get my head
around the fact that Dad was battling with the early
stages of dementia. Most of the time, he was very
lucid. We d talk about the news, the politics, sports
and other things with absolute clarity. Then there
were times, he would do things that were just totally
out of character. Dementia changed some aspects of
People may wonder why I choose to reveal this,
but the reality is that as we get older and our pop-
ulation ages, dementia is a disease that many of us
will encounter. To be honest, all you can do for loved
ones suffering with it is to be patient and compas-
My parents were together for 48 years and I know
he found it hard to even accept that Mummy was
gone. One day, he asked, "Where s your mother?"
I said gently, "Dad, Mum died; remember we went
to the funeral?"
He looked at me and said, "So that means it s just
you and me, then."
From that day, our relationship got gentler, more
trusting and more loving. Yes, we still clashed, but
I never took it personally. I started being grateful for
the good things about him and I know that s why
we were able to do this together.
In April 2013, Dad suffered a stroke that, while
not debilitating, left him unable to take care of himself
properly. I had to weigh up the pros and
cons of his care, and after some research,
advice and prayer, I decided to take him to
Agatha House for Seniors in Maraval. I knew
it was an unpopular decision in some quar-
ters, but I knew I was doing the right thing
for Dad. The nurses and doctors cared for
him very well. They understood his feisty
ways and his sometimes cheeky behaviour.
Some of them grew to love him like their
own dad and I know that he will be missed.
That decision was the best thing for us.
I had to now make quality time for Dad,
ensure he had everything he needed and
return some of the love and care he gave
me. Visits to the doctor became adventures
as we usually stopped off at places like
Adam s and Martin s for good food.
They were also times when I saw Dad s
sense of humour. One time, during a long
wait at a hospital appointment he leaned
over and asked, "Do you notice how many
Guyanese there are around here?"
A stunned me asked, "No, Daddy, what
are you talking about?"
I thought it might have been that his
sugar level was low, so I got him something
to eat and drink, but not long after, he looked
at one of the male nurses and asked, "Where
are you from?"
The man responded, "Cuba," and my
father then asked in a most accusatory tone,
"You sure you ve never been to Guyana?"
Shortly after, he asked a female nurse,
"My dear, where are you from?" to which
she too responded that she was from Cuba.
Being the charmer that he was, he looked
at her and asked, "You have a Trinidad
boyfriend? Is that why you re here?"
I looked forward to special occasions like
Christmas, his birthday and Father s Day
as they gave me the chance to do things
we d never done before---like having a lovely
posh lunch at the Hyatt accompanied by
his favourite scotch and coconut water for
Christmas 2013. I saw him warm up to my
friends like Clive, Rita, Natasha and Ardene---
whom he described as his Indian daughter.
Towards the end, I knew he truly cher-
ished my company, as he told the nurses
that he missed me when I wasn t around.
In the last weeks of his life, I told him many
times how much I loved him and how
thankful I was that we had the time together.
One day he told me, "I love you with all
my heart." For me that made all the sacrifices
of the last two years entirely worth it.
The last two years taught me a lot about
unconditional love. We Buddhists call it
"changing poison into medicine." I had to
approach this difficult experience as an
opportunity to reflect on myself and to
strengthen and develop my courage and
compassion. I feel honoured that Daddy let
me take this journey with him.
'Dad looked out for his extended family'
"Towards the end, I knew he (Frank
Philip) truly cherished my company,
as he told the nurses that he missed
me when I wasn't around. In the last
weeks of his life, I told him many
times how much I loved him and how
thankful I was that we had the time
---Franka Philip (taken from the eulogy
of retired police officer Frank Philip)
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