I can only imagine my father now rejoicing at his welcoming party with all his ancestors. Since he often told us how spoiled he was by my great grandparents, chances are, they would be his point of contact to greet him at the entrance door from our ancestor’s hallway.
And, after they would squeeze his fleshless body, one among them would more likely ask him:
“Mais Papou, pouquoi vous avez attendu aussi longtemps?”
Yes, when great grandparents were alive, my father said they only spoke French amongst them. So, in English, they were really asking him “Why did my father wait for so long before he joined them?
Knowing my father, he will probably answer back:
“Oh-Oh!!! – Ah! Bon! “Je m’amusais M’a Tella!!!”
Meaning: Oh-oh!!! Ah! Well! I was having fun M’a Tella!
“Yes, “M’a Tella” was his Grandmother’s name. But, if by any chance it was my great grandfather who questioned him, he would have said “Pa D’or” instead.
Yes, my great grandfather’s name was “Mon D’or” meaning “My Gold.” Interesting name, don’t you think? I bet you he was a spoiled brat like my father!
In fact, my Father’s name was Ernst Moïse. But, “Papou or Passite” were his nickname.
My father often told us “Growing up, he was the charming prince of his family; dearly loved, as well spoiled by his grandparents. All his great aunts, uncles, and cousins adored him as well.” My siblings and I have witnessed the love they shared together, but unfortunately, we never met our great grandparents.
Two of my father’s favorite cousins were Aunt Solange and Aunt Jeanine. But aunt Jeanine and my father were like Bonnie and Clyde, because they were inseparable.
I must say aunt Jeanine was my favorite one as well. As a Caucasian Haïtian woman, she had gorgeous eyes. And her butt was as flat as an iron board, just like my father’s. So whenever our family went to the beach, all the children would empty their laughter boxes, because we laughed so hard.
“Papou, timoun yo ap gin madichon wi, yap ri bouda nou.” Aunt Jeanine would say to Papy in Creole while she was laughing herself. Meaning “Papou those kids will be
Meaning “Papou those kids will be curse if they keep on laughing at our flat butt!”
But, that didn’t prevent us from teasing them, and we kept on laughing as well. By the end of the day, we were rolling on the sand with teary eyes because aunt Jeanine’s skin looked like plum tomatoes from the sunburn.
“Ton-nè fout – Ou wè sa fout soley la fèm Papou?” Tante Jeanine would yell at Papy, as she attempts to carefully walk like one of the robots from the Star Trek episode.
So, what exactly did she just said in Creole? ”
” Danm it! You see what that damn sun did to my skin Papou?”
“Wi-fout!” Papy would yell back, at his first glance at her. “You look like a wet chicken in tomatoes sauce and hot pepper.”
Then they both would laugh together. By the way “Wi-fout!” was one of my father’s favorite expression.
“Wi-fout! A la ti moun lèd!” Meaning:” Damn, what an ugly child!” Yes, my father would actually whisper that.
“Wi-fout! M’grangou!” Meaning, “Damn I’m hungry!” By the way, my father loved to eat.
Yes, I can imagine my aunt Jeanine being the second in line, awaiting her turn to rush toward my papy to personally welcome him. And, since she won’t have a suntan, chances are she will be running, pushing her through the crowd, including both my grandparents just so she can say:
“Passite! Ki sa ou tap fout tan?”
Meaning: “Passite, why did you wait so damn long to join me?”
Papy’s answer? “Oh-Oh!!! M’té fout konnin ou té nan payi pedu sa?”
Meaning: Oh-oh! How could have I known you were in this lost city?”
At last, I even imagine how my great-grand Father would pull my father’s arm in order to get away from the crowd. And, with a serious tone of voice he would say:
“Nous avons quelque chose à discuter jeune homme!” (We have something to discuss young man)
Then, as they both take a long stroll together, he would ask my father the following questions:
“Young man, how do you expect your grandmother to comb all the kinky hair children you and the others brought into our family? And, where in heaven’s sake do you expect us to get enough bleach from up here to lighten their skin?”
Knowing my Father without a doubt the following would be his answer:
“Well, I can’t answer for the other folks but for myself only. “God said “Soyez féconds et multiplier la terre.” Yes, to “Be fruitful and multiply the earth. So I did just what He asked of me; I had 23 children. But as for the color of their skin, He never mentioned any preference.”
My great grandfather would finally acknowledge his weakness when he realizes that we were all created equal. To show his gratitude to my father, he would give him a big hug.
“Mmm! Quand même, vous êtes toujours sages. Très bien mon fils!” He would say to my father.
Meaning: “Strange, but you are still wise, well done my son!”
“Of course!” Papy would reply, with a charming grin on his. Then he would say:
“Well, I don’t know about this fable “we were all created equal” because even in heaven there is a hierarchy. Some angels are greater in strength and ranks than others. So, we human may have been created all flesh, but are we all equal? Certainly NOT! “The maid is not equal to her employer, neither the engineer equal to a junky. Although, I do agree that respect is due to all regardless…
“I fully agree, “My great grandfather nodded.
Then my Papy would say: “Now grandfather, let’s take into consideration another point.”
‘Why should you be concern about all my dark skin children I graced our family with? Rather why don’t you thank me for not introducing any “spoiled race” into our family instead.”
“Spoiled race?” What does that mean you asked?
Well, this is how my father referred to an unattractive child. During dinner, we were often reminded of this rule:
“Give me lots of grand-children, but DO NOT bring me any “SPOILED RACE, UGLY GRAND-CHILDREN.”
In our creole language he would re-emphasize:“Pa ban m’ “Gatè race; ti moun lèd!!!”
We would laugh of course, and so did all of our friends. Because they felt so comfortable to be around my father.
Yes, that was my father. He was at ease with his sense of humor, so he made us laugh. And during any family or friends gathering, the party didn’t start until “Passite” arrived, and the best table was reserved for us, in honor of my father.
My father was welcomed everywhere. He was the guests of honor in many small villages during their celebrations, many of which he was the first one who ever built schools and churches there. Upon our arrival, even the priest would anticipate his arrival. A special table was also set aside for my father and all his guests. While every paysan would welcome him.
“Min Ginneer’m nan!” Or, Mim Magist’ pam nan!”
Meaning:”Here comes my engineer, ” Or, “He comes my favorite Maire!”
As a result, my father had enough God-children to occupy a whole school. Probably why he started building schools in the small towns.
Yes, I learned to be a good Samaritan from my father. As a young girl, I would watch my father planting good seed. Every village we visited, the people knew his car. Then they all would lined up to tell him of their harship. I watched my father giving each according to their needs.
“Magist, the wife just gave birth to another child. And, had to send your godson to school, you know?” The skiny paysan would say, with his straw hat, balls of sweat rolling down his face.
Papy would answer “Wi fout! How often your wife give birth? I thought just like week I gave you some money for a new born?”
“Hihihi! Magist, you sure right, sometimes I think my wife gives birth every three months! Sure right-sure right!”
I learned to despise injustice from my father.
I learned to become the best chef because of my father. For he showed enthusiasm tasting both my sour and tasty recipes, and not once criticized me.
At last whenever I would ask my Father “So Papy, what do you think of this recipes? He would answer,
“M’plin boudin m!”
Translation? “For me to know, and for you to find out!” LOL
What he truly answered was: “I ate so much that even my butt is full!” LOL
Below are before and after pictures of my father.
ERNST MOïSE 04/16/1931-07/11/2016
LIFE IS A “B” alright!!!