Family Update – Mars Ardo’s Visit and Our Trip to Florida

Posted: May 4, 2013 in Cultural Observations, Family, Random Observations
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m thrilled to report that we just returned from a trip to my brother-in-law Tony’s house in Florida. We left Friday a week ago, and returned yesterday, and spent the seven days there visiting, shopping, fishing, and watching a good amount of rain from his lanai room. We went to Florida for a couple of reasons. First, it was about time – we hadn’t been in nearly a year, and we usually find a reason to go down once or twice a year. Tony and his wife Enid are very hospitable, and they built themselves quite a gracious home, with room for houseguests.

The second reason it was actually necessary to visit was that my father-in-law, Mars ‘Ardo, as they call him, is visiting with us for a while. This is a project Joni’s been working on for a while – making certain his passport is up-to-date and monitoring his progress in getting him a visa to visit this country.  She secured his ticket a couple of months ago, and he arrived in Atlanta in early April.

It’s an interesting proposition, hosting an elderly gentleman (he’s 90) with whom you allegedly share a common language. Jamaican people speak a patois whose words are largely English, but whose pronunciation and grammar are based on something else entirely. You might remember the old Steven Segal movie where the Jamaican villain says “Welcome to I island,” and “Everybody want heaven, but nobody want dead.” There are little Jamaican phrasebooks, usually available in airport gift shops and the like, that contain hundreds of such formulations. There’s also a good Wikipedia article about Jamaican patois at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaican_Patois.

It’s hard to describe the pronunciation of the Jamaican patois. They also speak fairly fast, and the overall effect is to make their speech pretty much unintelligible. I rarely understood anything my late mother-in-law said, except one memorable occasion when I asked her some question and she looked at me with pity, perhaps marveling that an adult might ask such a silly question, and said “Yeah mon.”

Now, despite the fact that Joni’s dad is 90, that’s not really considered old in a family where people generally reach triple digits. True, he takes a bit more time to get around, and he’s somewhat more fragile, but he was well into his eighties before he stopped walking several miles daily to attend to his farm and performing sometimes strenuous farmwork. So anyone describing this visit to see family members in the States as a swan song would be dramatically wrong. We’re already talking about a bunch of the family getting together in a few years in Jamaica to visit him!

When we planned our trip to Florida, the idea was that we’d stay a week, and a few weeks later, Tony and Yvonne would come up to Georgia, bringing dad with them. Yesterday, accordingly, we awoke early and did our packing, and were surprised to see dad packing as well – nobody had told him he’d be staying with his son and daughter-in-law in Florida for a couple more weeks. This is a habit we have in this country that’s pretty demeaning to seniors – we often talk about them and not to them, and we sometimes neglect to include them in planning things that largely are being planned for their benefit. I actually had a nice, albeit short, discussion about this with him before we left Florida, and I made certain to tell him that if I did it – talked about him without talking to him – it was inadvertent.

In a few weeks, we head out west to visit another of Mars ‘Ardo’s children, Joni’s sister. This time, we’ll be certain to have a nice talk, the three of us, about the trip, so that this time he’s not taken by surprise!

 

 

 

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