It’s been forever since I blogged and I’m sure this is not the kind of blog people mean when they constantly tell me I “should be blogging,” but what is the purpose of a blog if not to share your most personal feelings with strangers? Call me old fashioned! This is just a snippet, a snapshot of my relationship with my Father but it’s a start.
I lost my Dad, Shaffick “Gigs” Mohammed in March earlier this year and it’s been weird, it’s been real, it’s been real weird. I’ve learned a lot about life, throughout the lengthy process of this loss. Bereavement is a beeyatch, kids! It’s not something you could ever prepare for, so don’t try. Just know that you will miss that person more than you ever thought possible when they were alive.
My Dad lived in New York for the last 20 years. I spent a lot of my formative years there with him. That’s where I was first exposed to the guitar music that would go on to influence what I now do with this earth life of mine.
He was a jockey as a lad and he worked in the world of horse racing his entire life. He went on to become tutor of the Trinidad & Tobago Jockey School and after emigrating, assistant trainer to bigwig Alan Jerkins at New York’s Belmont Park. He used to sneak out of school to head down to the track as a boy. It was in his blood. My grandfather, a truck driver by day, stick fighter by night, and local “bad john” owned a horse called “Gigolo” and my Dad inherited this moniker (shortened to ‘Gigs’) on his first day at the track. He was very well known in racing circles and certainly very accomplished. I remember people constantly asking him for tips on race days, he was usually dead on. He knew everything there was to know about horse racing and thoroughbreds. It was pretty awesome listening to him talk shop. I too love horses and the thrill of the races.
BTW if you’ve ever seen a promo photo or video of me holding a crop, now you know why. It’s in my blood too! Why, what did you think it meant?
It was SO cool having a Dad who had access to horses. As a kid, I even had my very own horse called “Michael Be Quick” who was previously owned by former President Ellis Clarke. Well, technically he belonged to the racing authority and he lived at the track but Dad said he was mine. So he totally was! Totally.
I wanted to be just like my Dad, do everything he was doing, go where he was going, learn everything there was to learn from him. He was my hero. He gave me my first guitar and always pointedly told my brother Perry and I to ”do what you love” and we grew up and did just that. His love turned out to be medicine, mine music.
My Dad tried to be an insurance salesperson shortly after getting married, for the stability, the normal working hours, the higher salary, but he found it to be unethical and he missed the horses too much so he went right back to his first love. Do what you love he would say, until we got it.
Growing up both he and Mum instilled in us good manners to the point of annoyance. I am grateful for that now. He taught me about discipline and spoiled me rotten at the same time. If I was ever in trouble and I was often in trouble with Mum; I would run to him and hide behind his legs as soon as he walked through the door and he would save me from the spanking that I probably deserved. These were just some of the perks of being Daddy’s Princess and there were many! Guitars, horses, time spent with the student jockeys at their school, which to me was magical, with its bunk beds, pool and ping pong tables, riding boots, crops and helmets. All access to the track on big race days and sporting press who sometimes wanted interviews with Dad, it was all very exciting for a wee lass like me. I would later grow up to realise and truly appreciate the uniqueness of this experience.
Today would have been his 68th Birthday and I wanted to celebrate his life in some small way… in any and every way.
Thank you for shaping me into the person I am, thank you for these genes, for these traits, both fantastic and flawed, thank you for the riding lessons and a horse named Michael, thank you for the guitars, and the support and for believing in me, thank you for the unconditional love and acceptance. Thank you for giving me the best Mum in the whole world! Thank you for all the perks of being Daddy’s Princess of which there are many. Until we meet again… Keep the saddle warm for me Dad.
P.S. I don’t know how people who don’t believe in a life beyond this one deal with death. I would be a thousand times more devastated and completely inconsolable.
Not that I’m claiming to know anything about anything, but I find this Einstein quote comforting:
“Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” - Albert Einstein