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Listen. Learn. Grow

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“ Listen,learn, and grow, but also always do your best, success will come”. My grandfather used
to say these words often to me when I was a boy, and now I use them as my motto for life. I read in a
book that if you write down events that are hard to think about, that it makes them easier to relive. My
short sixteen years of life may not seem long to most, but not to me. Those years shaped my being. I
was born Roman Bailey II, on Jamaica soil, in the town of Montego Bay, September 1995. I think that
a day was a Tuesday. My mother’s father did not like my father, a “bandulu”(criminal) he called him.
My father had once stolen an apple from my grandfather's tree. I never understood why grandpa Ro
never forgave him for a something so insignificant, but “once a bandulu always a bandulu” he would
say. My father eventually let due to grandpa Ro's constant threats, he had joined the army in the U.S.
Leaving behind leaving behind one person then he meant to, an unborn child. My mother died when I
was very young, I hardly remember her, after that I was mostly raised by granpa Ro. Granpa Ro was a
retired school teacher, even for someone who was retired for 20 years he still acted as strict a teacher as
any i've ever met. But he did in still my love of reading in me from a young age so I guess it worked.
On a rainy morning when I was eleven grandpa Ro died in his sleep. With nowhere to go I decided to
look up my father. I only had photo and a name; Adric Marcus Lewis.
Now when I look back it's a little funny. Granpa Ro used to say :“Da patu(devil) gone have to
com up and drag meh to Blood-fire (hell) hemself, I aint goin nowhere bwoy.”. When I was boarding
the plane to go to the states, a little while after grandpa Ro's funeral, I decided that I would never come
back to Jamaica again. I wanted to leave it all behind. Meeting my father I was a surprised, we looked
so much a like that there was no question that we were father and son. I learned that he had no
knowledge of a son which makes sense. Granpa Ro would cut off an arm (which he actually almost did
once ,but that’s another story) before he would his daughter contact my father. Now in America with no
plans to return to my old life I also changed my name, Devonte' Lewis.” I like the sound of that my
father had said”. ” So do I” I said in reply.
My father's job in the army kept us moving frequently. I read many foreign books and I learned
“hello” and “goodbye” in many languages, while also a few curse words without my father's
knowledge, I think that gandpa Ro would have enjoyed that part. It was hard to believe that hew was
gone for almost three years at that point. I remember one time when I was younger., grandpa Ro and I
were sitting in our tiny apartment watching the news. A drunk driver had killed 3 people in a head on
collision ,but he himself survived it. Grandpa Ro let off a string off curse words so terrible I thought
that we were going to struck by lighting right there. I seriously wondered sometimes how he was
approved to be around so many children.
When I was 14 my father went missing. He and other fellow solders never returned to base after
an ambush by insurgents. There was only one man found, the rest were presumed dead. I couldn’t
believe it, my last connection in the world, gone, just like that. There was a formal funeral for my
father and the others. “ your father was the bravest man I knew” the surviving solider told me. Those
were appropriate words for a man who could no longer prove otherwise. I decided that wanted to join
the army, and I was let to stay on the base doing odd jobs until I turned 18. Then I could formally join if
that was what I wanted.
Weeks later I heard amazing news, missing men had been found, including my father. I was
estatic. For hours I would look into the sky every five minutes waiting for the helicopter's arrival. Then
one day it finally came. When my father got off the helicopter I could definitely tell a difference. His
left sleeve had been pinned up and it hung like a half used tube of toothpaste and his face looked older,
but he was still my dad. Weirdly at that time I finally understood why grandpa roman disliked my
father so much. Whether you steal a apple or a life; stealing is stealing and usually you can never get it
back. A dead educator was still teaching me lessons. But me, id did, and I was grateful. Recently before
my sixteenth birthday my father and I moved to Shreveport, Louisiana. I like Shreveport, it was quieter
and more relaxed than a lot of places we lived. I also enrolled into a local high school.
During spring break of my sophomore year I decided to visit the place that I, that we had hidden
from for so many years. Once back in Montego Bay, My father and I visited one of the local
cemeteries, this would be our last but most important stop. As I stood in front of My mother's and
grandfather's graves I felt different, as if they were not dead, just lost like I had been. “Angelina
Makina Bailey” my mother's gravestone read, “ A mother and daughter taken before her time”. Then I
turned to my grandfather's gravestone. “Roman Jacob Bailey”, “beloved educator and family man,
gone but not forgotten”. That night on our ride to the airport, the wind was blowing hard. It was hot so I
had my window down. As the wind blew, I heard a voice, “Success has come, we are proud of you
Roman”. They say that when a Bailey dies rain comes down to wash their footsteps off the earth, then
the winds comes to blow them up to heaven when their deeds on earth are done





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