My Daddy Uncle
After my mother finished speaking with my Uncle in Haiti, she decided to send my brothers and me to Haiti to spend the summer with him.
“You will have fun with your Tonton Jerah, Celeste,” Manman said after seeing my lips droop. “He’s your favorite, remember?”
Not anymore, I thought to myself. He didn’t even come to see us after Papa died.
But my brothers, Rich and Stan, were happy to go. They said it was a new adventure and they couldn’t wait to pack.
It was early in the morning when Manman woke us up to prepare us for our trip to Haiti. Then she took us to the airport but I didn’t want her to leave.
“You will be fine, Cellie,” she said calling me by my nickname. “Your Uncle will be waiting when you and your brothers get off the plane.”
We inched closer to landing and I stared out at the mountains and greenery outside the window of the plane. Rich pointed at the people who looked like ants and he and Stan laughed. But I was mad and my stomach turned as the plane landed.
Manman was right. Tonton Jerah was there when we got off the plane. He was a tall, skinny man with a handsome face like my father. And as soon as he saw us, he rushed toward us wrapping his long arms around my brothers and me.
“Look how you all grow like trees.” He grabbed our bags and scooted us out of the busy passenger terminal. And we mounted his old pickup truck.
We held on through the bumpy ride to Tonton Jerah’s house, crinkling our noses at the smelly air. We gawked at the people walking up and down the streets, garbage piled on the sidewalks, colorful buses called tap tap, and scraggly dogs walking down the busy streets.
I was relieved when the car stopped moving. Tonton Jerah lived in a small house with two bedrooms. He put our things in the bedroom closest to the backyard. And Rich and Stan went off to explore the large, messy backyard. But I stayed in the room and pouted wishing I was back home with my Mom in Florida.
The days came and went and I didn’t feel better about being in Haiti, even after my Uncle bought some of my favorite things like mango and sugarcane and duce, or sweet tablets. I didn’t want to eat anything or go outside to play like my brothers did. And one day my Uncle wanted to know why.
“Tell me what your problem is,” he said flipping a bucket upside down to sit beside me in the backyard.
I was watching my brothers play konik or marble with a few of the neighborhood kids and didn’t answer him.
“Why do you hate your Uncle, Cellie?”
I looked at him and saw my father. “Why did Papa have to die?” I sniffled back the tears that were blurring my vision.
My Uncle inched closer to me scraping the mouth of the bucket against the dirt floor. He held my hand.
“I don’t know, chery -sweetheart.” He wiped some tears that were rolling down my cheeks. “But God knows everything. And you know something? God knew that your father was going to die, so He put some of your father in you to keep him alive.”
I frowned and thought about what he just said.
“And I will tell you something else.” Tonton Jerah smiled. “I love you very much. And I will be there for you when you need me.”
“I love you, too, Tonton.” For the first time I smiled at my Uncle.
And from then on my trip to Haiti became so much fun I didn’t want it to end.
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