September 16, 2010, my father would be 85. He would most likely still have an amazing mind, sharp as a blade, even as he might have become more impatient, or maybe more tolerant. Who knows?
He's been gone more than eight years. But when I am struggling with thorny accounting calculations, trying to figure out how to make, use or spend money, I remember him. He would be rocked back in his recliner, the television on some travel or food channel. The look on his face, the counting gestures with his fingers - was he writing on air or talking with some business guru? - told us he was deeply engrossed in some new scheme, either for his own business or to invest in. He bought shares in Trinidad, whenever an IPO was launched and especially in the banks, but in Unit Trust, National Enterprises - he believed in the productivity of this country - and ventured into real estate and computer companies abroad. He could read all the signs of an economy, and was deeply interested in the stock markets of the world, this man who had to learn English as a second language, and graduated from primary school before entering the job market as a shopkeeper. He learned Trinidad like a new subject, this man who came from China.
When television first came to Trinidad, he bought one of the first sets. We looked at Bonanza in black and white through reception snow - the mountains of Santa Cruz cut out more than 50% of the picture. Long before that, my father was a theatre peon. He learned a lot about the world from the silver screen as a young man. Many years after, when his fortune was made, he travelled for pleasure. He did business with suppliers in the USA, and learned about poultry rearing, breeding, incubation and specialty birds from them. In every field that he put his mind to, he excelled.
He believed in the talent and native intelligence of his children. He didn't push, just allowed us to find our own paths. For all his life, he accepted his responsibility as a parent. His house was always open to his children - food was always available in his kitchen, and if it wasn't he could whip up something fast. There were never lectures, no advice - except maybe "buy these shares" - but he showed the way to care for a family.