My father, Christopher Lam, was many things in his 83 years of life; a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a salesman, a manager; his life contained much I do not know, and much I have forgotten. Among the things that he did, he was once something of a photographer. And there was one image which he was proud of, because of some uniqueness to it.
The year was 1958, my dad would have been 21 years old when Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, visited British Guiana as part of the Royal Tour of the West Indies. A controversial figure, her visit was anticipated by her royal subjects, and the streets were flooded with people everywhere she went.
There were/are many photos of her visit, as expected of a royal visit, and many were published in the press and printed as souvenirs; my father also printed copies of one of his to sell as souvenirs. My dad was quite proud of his, not just because it was a good photograph, but because, in his words and opinion, it was unique. From every country and every tour that Princess Margaret did, even from images seen in the English press, whenever she was photographed, she would greet the crowds with a wave of her gloved hand. In my dad’s photograph, she was gloveless. It seems a small thing, but my dad says it was a big deal. I’m sure there were other photos of her waving gloveless, but dad says he never saw one, and neither have I.
I decided to snap a photo of his, to share with you, as something of a photographer myself, I share in his joy regarding the photograph, and share it with you to see. I regret not doing this earlier, my dad died three weeks ago, having lived a full life, having loved and been loved, and leaving behind many memories, and children and grandchildren to remember him.
As befitting a Sunday, we went to the church in Gordon Town, St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church, and all of my photography from that day were from the walk home and then after-dinner with the family, making it a quiet peaceful day.
I think that Jamaica still holds the world record for most churches (places of worship) per square mile, and this was very evident that day with the sounds of worshipful song drifting up the hills all day 🙂
Below are two photos from the morning walk home from church; the first is of a building I originally thought was a store, but from the name it is probably not…
The second is one of my parents standing next to the sign that marks the entrance to Riverside Heights.
My Last blog post of the year! So I take it to do a small “family letter”, or as close as I’ll get to that in a while 🙂
As two of my brothers have already written or expressed through video, this has been an “eventful” year.
Maureen and I, as well as Andre and Areza, celebrated a decade of marriage, Miriam did well in school, although she says she did not do so well, her overall percentage fell, but she did her best and we are proud of her. Joan Ann got married to Jerry and has migrated to Barbados, God called into his arms two of our loved ones, Granny Correia and Uncle John (Moll), they are both missed and we pray for their souls and the strength to carry on without them. Aunt Kumarie (Maureen’s mom) was diagnosed with Gastric Cancer, the surgery was successful and her chemotherapy begins soon, we hope we have the strength to support her, but she is a strong person and may be our support even through her own trials. I started my own blog and am enjoying my photography even more through it. Nikhil and I were robbed whilst in pursuit of our photography endeavours, quite an experience. This year I also went with my family to Sint Maarten, where I got some amazing photographs and was called Blog-o-matic for the frequent blogging I did from there, and we had a thoroughly enjoyable time.
Areza and Ariel migrated in time to begin Ariel’s new school, and she is doing wonderfully, a real champ, my niece. Andre followed them shortly and their family is now re-united and moving forward.
Of all these events Andre’s parting has affected me the most, I couldn’t even take a focused photograph at the airport as he was leaving. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my grandmother dearly, and I do miss Joan a lot, but there is something about the three eldest brothers that was just different. Together we were MAN (Michael, Andre and Nicholas), we complimented each other, as different as brothers usually are, but we grew to be not just brothers, but friends. That friendship with my other siblings is still developing, but with the three of us it was forged in growing, in fights, in scheming together, in church and in the schools we attended together, in Karate classes, in playgrounds, and even in our varying tastes in music, and with Andre, we were in the choir together (shhhh!), both of us later found mutual friends at University, and a common interest in photography.
This photograph is not the one I wanted, I really wanted a good one of him boarding the aircraft, but my eyes and hands betrayed my at that time. But this one is typical of the males of the Lam family, we hug very seldom, we shake hands more than not, and even more often we just smile and acknowledge each other. We seldom say “I Love you” or “I am proud of you” or say in words how much we care, it is mostly a nod and a smile and that is enough for us, we KNOW!
This photograph gives thanks! Thanks for the many years God has given us with our Dad, his wisdom, his sense of right and wrong and his commitment to the family! On the wall in the background is the transplanted family photograph or Andre, Areza and Ariel. Thanks for all that they have been, for what they mean to al of us, and always will. And the brass Chinese character hanging on the wall, a reminder of our ancestry, where we have come from, the generations of Lams who have been born on Guyana’s soil, and those from mother China whom we never knew but owe our genes to 🙂 That chinese character is the symbol for Longevity or Long Life, symbolic and serendipitous.
To all our friends, our family, and anyone reading this, we wish you a happy and prosperous 2011, and Longevity.