Latest Letter from Bernie to Mildred
Your letter to me was very alarming and I am still trying to understand why you have chosen to attack me in such a vicious manner.
Before I begin to address your letter in detail may I suggest that when you are writing you use the New Winston Dictionary daddy gave you when he came back from England the year I was born.
Your spelling is terrible, please, please use the dictionary to help you with your spelling.
There are many things you do not know about my life when I moved to America, I remember how happy you were that I was moving to Wisconsin with my then girlfriend Sarah Gibbons.
“Go and get a betta life fi yuself” you told me.
Well my dear mother, the “betta life” you wanted for me was not easy to achieve because when I got to Wisconsin, Sarah told me, “Jamaica is behind you now, you are in my country and I will decide who your friends are going to be”.
My defiant response was “listen woman I am not your (expletive) gigolo, (ask Randy Marsh to tell you the meaning of that).
For what she called my “impudence” she threw me out of the house, all I had in this big and cold country was a suitcase and the 1,500 US dollars I got on the black market in Jamaica.
I called my friend Billy Murray who was living in Indianapolis Indiana at the time, he told me “come to Indianapolis” and he would get me a job, a job mother not a jab.
I spent 6 months in Indiana working with Billy mending fences at 3.00 an hour, then I tried to get a job
as a broadcaster with a radio station in Indianapolis, I did well in the interview and the demonstration, they told me I could get the job, I was told to come in with my social security card and proof of residence in Indiana and I could start my training.
I qualified for several other jobs but I did not have the legal documents required for me to work in America.
So back to mending fences I went for a year, then I moved to Chicago because I heard that jobs were easier to get there.
I got a job to plant trees on the Lakefront trail near Lake Michigan but after two weeks I was asked to quit because there was a report that I was in America illegally.
I really hated Chicago, the violence and murders were too terrifying for me, one morning I woke up to find the windshield and all the windows of the old Ford van I bought for 200.00, smashed and the tape deck which never really worked was taken out.
I abandoned the van right where it was and went to stay with my friend Shirley in Peoria, Shirley had this really cool apartment near the Illinois River.
Shirley was from Greenvale in Manchester but she was now an American Citizen and one of my closest friends.
Shirley offered to marry me so that she could “file for my papers” the papers sounded good but the marrying part was scary, I was not ready to be a husband not even for “my papers”.
Shirley felt rejected and began to behave strange with me so I moved to New York where I have lived eves since.
Now you criticized me for working at a Peenut Faktry, Mama it is Peanut Factory, when we were children you always told us that “a drowning man catches after a straw” when you are in America without papers, you cannot be too choosy about what jobs you get.
Let me also remind you that all the money I have been sending you is form my job at the Peanut Factory.
Yes Mama all the money I gave you when I came home is money I earned working at the Peanut Factory.
I only got my Green Card in November last year and I will get a better job but with the virus situation that will take some time.
I notice you always like to blame me for the things you disliked about daddy, Mama I had no choice in deciding who my parents would be, that choice was between you and daddy.
Since you are always blaming daddy for leaving you, let me remind you of the day when he and I came home and while he was tying up his horse under the big mango tree, Colin Miller jumped out of the house half naked through the window with his trousers in his hand and ran to the back of the house and almost killed himself when he fell down Mass Lionel’s gully and rolled all the way down to the bottom of Breadfruit Gully Hill.
You see Mama, daddy did not believe you when you told him that Colin Miller was helping you to fix the sofa and because it was so hot he took his clothes off to cool down and the reason why he ran was because he was afraid that daddy would think that there was something going on behind his back.
Yes Mama, it is true that you made sacrifices for me to go to school and I am grateful to you for everything you have done for me but it is necessary to remind you that Uncle Ivan and Auntie Gloria on daddy’s side, paid most of the money for my schooling.
When I used to tell you that I wanted to be a writer you used to curse me and tell me “ yo mad like yo damn mad cousin Tiny, always a write shit”
Mama, I do not want to be in a war with my mother but when you try to give the impression that you have to get money from Bernice to take care of Becky, Mama you know that is not true, before I was laid off because of the virus problem, I sent you money every month and when I was leaving Jamaica I gave you 2,150.00 US dollars which is less than three weeks ago.
You are my mother and I cannot change that, all I want from you is some respect and appreciation for what I am doing.
Thank you for offering to send me auntie Esmie’s number in Sunrise Florida but that is not necessary, I have already made arrangements to stay with friends in West Palm Beach and I also have friends in Jupiter and Orlando.
Before I leave for Florida I will scrape up some money to send for Becky, for now use some of the money I gave you to buy her the shoes she wanted.
I hope we can put all this behind us and move forward like mother and son
Your loving son