My earliest recollections of my dad are warm but punctuated by memories of the tumultuous relationship between he and my darling dear mom. They must have met sometime, I assume, in 1962-1963. He was a corporal in the Jamaica Constabulary Force; a police officer and she a new arrival to Kingston Jamaica by way of Balaclava St. Elizabeth. He would have been about 33 years old, and she must have been about 18 years. I arrived in the world in January 1964. My Brother Christopher in 1966.
I have powerful memories of at least one argument where little Neville had to intervene in a physical confrontation between, he and my mom. My weapon of choice was a broom this. I was not a match for my dad. I will not say much more here. Suffice it to say that my dad was a charmer and my mom, a looker.
I remember us living in several different areas in Kingston. Dad was not only a policeman but also an excellent carpenter. I had many trips to Harman Barracks in Vineyard Town as a child, where he was known simply as Mitchie. There were trips to Caymanas Park, the horse racing track where dad was charged with guardian the Horse Racing receipts. Even this day I remember the 1973 Jamaica Derby. Dad did not take us but asked me to pick a horse for him. I would pick King Pin ridden by George Hosang. I listened intently on the radio to the race. Of course, I was a neophyte and only 9 years old. King Pin did win the Derby, but dad did not put any money on the horse. I remember being disappointed.
I also remember his taking my brother and I, sometimes together sometimes separately, on the mail truck from Kingston to all parts of Jamaica. That was one of his duties as a Police officer- guarding the mail. These memories of my dad sustain me to this day.
My dad was the consummate ladies’ man, which I suspected play some role in the issues between he and my darling mom. He could dance his ass of. My big sis inherited that from him. You should see her dance. But he was always there. When mom went to Canada and later America, we either stayed with him or visited wherever he lived. Mostly we were with MAMA (our paternal grandmother). She was charged with taking care of Dawn whose mom was in the United Kingdom; Me and my brother, our mom in the United States and later Gloria’s two girls, their mom in Chicago.
My dad, affectionately known as Uncle D to all the nieces and Nephews, even my brother and I occasionally called him that, always made sure to come to 40 Nelson Road for dinner. I can see him even now walking down from Maxfield Avenue towards Donkey lane with the newspaper with under his armpit or in his left hand and his right hand tucked inside his open shirt resting on his heart. He was father even to his brother Basil’s kids – Dawn, Marva, Tony, Rose, Brigette, Mark, who he would predecease. They all loved uncle D, the policeman.
I laugh now because on many occasions when he came to eat dinner -which was every evening-mama would tell him of the days transgressions and when he took out his belt to correct our behavior, mama would jump in and say D do not hit my children. It was a constant source of fun for all us kids. He would say to his mother: So why you tell me then?
Dad would later move to Chicago and worked for Chrysler I believe. Generous to a fault, he would get himself in some trouble loaning folks money. I took several trips to Chicago once I was out of Law School to see him and he would visit here on at least one occasion with my first daughter after her birth.
Like my mom, my dad succumbed to cancer. He had returned home to Jamaica to convalesce, refusing to stay with his eldest child, his daughter, and my big sister from a different mother Evadney “Michelle” Esty, in Atlanta. We all went down to see him and spent time. I think its fair to say he was fonder of my brother than me, for my mom was my everything. But I do know he loved us all. My dad went home to glory while I was in the middle of a criminal trial in Westchester County. Providence caused it to be before a judge name Loehr. I knew his daughter, even though he had no inkling. He declared a mistrial and I went home to bury my dad. I am my father’s son, but my mother’s prince. That is why I have no fear of police. My DAD was REALPOLICE!
Neville O. Mitchell