FRIGHTENED

 
I was frightened when my mother left me at Palisadoes airport when I was five. My fear stemmed from being separated from my very protective mother for the first time. I cried as my children cried years later when I dropped them off at Kindergarten for the first time. This decision was heartbreaking for my mother, who had waited forty years to have her only child and now had to make her second tough decision to leave him behind as she migrated to New York. Nevertheless, my mother was used to tough choices because she had already made her first when she decided to keep the child of a married man who was not eager to expand his already large family. She also knew caring for a young child while living in Harlem and working all week as a live-in maid in White Plains, New York, was almost impossible. She could see that she would have to leave me in someone's care in either case and believed that I would be safer in Kingston under my father's watchful eye. 
 
I was confused and disoriented as I stood next to Mrs. Hinchclif in the living room of Mrs. Maxwell's home, listening to Mrs. Hinchclif explain that this stranger would be my new mother and her house would be my new home. I silently rebelled, and this rebellion lasted nearly forty years until my mother came to live with me in Los Angeles just before she died. Besides, I wouldn't say I liked Mrs. Maxwell, and I was not too fond of Mrs. Hinchclif either because I blamed both of them for taking my mother from me. I cried day and night as I tried to adjust to my new fate. I did not fully understand the pain intrinsic to this moment until I inflicted a similar agony on my young puppy, Lucky. Lucky was a happy puppy living with her mother, her brother, Spike, and my family in Los Angeles. My best friend, Ronald Mclean, wanted a dog for his 10-year-old son Anthony. I volunteered my lovely puppy, Lucky, to be Anthony's pet. I offered Lucky to Ronald because I knew Ronald would give her a good home, and we had a history of supporting each other since childhood. Indeed, Ronald could have purchased his dog, but it was my way of offering something precious to his young son, Anthony. Accepting my gift was Ronald's way of showing me that we were still brothers who supported each other.  
 
Ronald and I made all the arrangements to ship Lucky to New York, which was more expensive and complicated than we expected, but we pressed forward. There was no way for me to explain what would happen to Lucky, so I gave her a bath, which she likes because she enjoys the attention, and took her for walks to say my subtle goodbye. Finally, the moment arrived. I gave her a good meal, brushed her hair, and put her in my car. Lucky loves car rides. She excitedly looked out the car window as we headed to the Los Angeles International Airport. When we arrived at the airport's cargo area, she was excited. She loved to spend time with me on new adventures, and the airport seemed like a lot of fun. But before she understood what was happening, she was put in a crate and taken away for the flight to New York. I was an adult and knew what was happening, but Lucky, my puppy, did not. Standing next to Mrs. Hinchclif as she turned me over to Mrs. Maxwell, I was just as unaware as my puppy, Lucky. When I spoke to Ronald the following day about Lucky's response to her new home, Ronald said that Lucky screamed all night and hid under every bed she could find. Lucky experienced the same feeling of loss as I did during my first days in Mrs. Maxwell's house.
 
A year later, when I went to New York to visit Ronald, his son Anthony and his wife, Ramona, I saw Lucky. She was well-groomed, well-fed, and enjoying life in beautiful Rye Brook, New York. But when she saw me, she started to growl, bark and snap at me. I tried to approach her, but she wanted no part of me as she scampered away. I could tell she recognized me, but she was still angry with me for putting her through such an ordeal. I tell you this story about my dog Lucky because it was similar to how I reacted when I saw my mother again in New York twelve years after leaving me at the Jamaica airport. At our reunion, my mother was full of the love and the guilt of a woman who had left her child behind. Instead of returning her love, I growled, barked, and snapped at her. I wanted nothing to do with her, even though she was the only family I had.
 
Six months after I saw Lucky in New York, Ronald decided that Lucky was not working out for his family. Her long hair was shedding all over the house, and his wife, Ramona, was allergic to her hair. We decided that he would send Lucky back to me in Los Angeles. I was not sure what to expect when I went to pick up Lucky at the airport, but, to my surprise, she recognized me right away when the attendant brought her to me. She jumped for joy as she kissed me all over. She climbed into our car and looked out the window as we drove home. Lucky seemed to have forgotten all the trauma I had put her through and returned to the happy-go-lucky puppy she was before. On the other hand, I never jumped for joy around my mother, but I cried like a baby the day she died.
 
My story is about the Flower that grew in the painful residue of a mother's choice. I later realized that my mother made the right choice, but there was damage never-the-less. This story is not only about the damage but also about the love and the adventure I discovered over the seventy years that followed.