Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Farewell, my best man!

 For his few detractors, they think that the many of us that praise him, are blowing our top.
    He was not a saint. That was not his calling. But he was a champion. That was his choice.
   He was a believer, in the goodness of man. That people, by their essence, are better than what they sometime act out in peculiar circumstances.
   And that we have all fallen short. And that we all deserve – a second – and sometimes third and fourth chances, too. He gave me many of those.
   And by both his word and his deeds, he always reminded me: “Young Mark,’’ even if you get upset, don’t get petty.
   He was an angry grey-head man, with a hearty laugh. An uncompromising boss; with a grand daddy’s heart. He was tough, but fair.
   And even if you think there are; there were not – no contradictions.
  For Leslie Pierre was a little man; with big opinions; a bigger voice and a Scorpion’s fire to stand his ground, argue his point – and stand by the consequences of it.
  And he had his jail years to show for it.
   The uninitiated calls it stubbornness. People of value call it conviction.
And when he could, and the tables were turned, he showed that even though he was angry, he never got petty.
  For there are broader principles that cannot be locked up. And that tolerance is not a man’s weakness; it is his most perfect ally.
   I never always agreed with him; but I always admired him.
   Personally speaking; he was among the finest and the best. As flawed as they come; and yet as good as they come.
 This Standard Four “Hindsey School’’ boy – or “Jakie School’’ as he preferred to describe the Anglican School on Church Street – taught me more about balance and fairness; the value of questioning and research; than the many professors that taught me anything.
  Since his death at 86, so many have talked about the man, who was the editor; the columnist; the social activist; the businessman.
  And they are all right in what they have said.
  My only mission here is to thank him for his friendship and his mentorship.
   He did not have to give this upstart boy from the country, the opportunity and the platform. He did not have to instill in me, the confidence that I can be – and will be – good at something.
   Truthfully, he made me feel I can walk on water if I put my mind to it – and “only if you are not so careless’’. Patrick Smikle, another mentor, had first sewn the seed. Leslie Pierre nurtured it and watched it grow.
   He asked me on a Wednesday to come to work for him from the following Monday. He called back on the Thursday to say, he is sending me off on Sunday to a Newspaper Writers’ course.
  So my first four weeks as a Grenadian Voice employee was in a classroom overseas. Such faith he had in me.
   He immediately made me his Deputy Editor – imagine that! For someone just barely out of his teens.
  Six months later he went to England for three months, convincing me that I can run his joint while he was away. Saying he finally found someone he can leave the paper with for an extended time, it surely stroked my young ego and did a lot for my self-confidence.
  He scolded me in private, often; but always defended me in public. If I got into personal trouble, or had a personal crisis; he’d offer advice – and sometimes take bold action – like ringing up people and telling them off.
  He became friend and family. My mother will lodge any complaints about me to him. He’d be the one to try to bring me back in line.
  Sometimes he brought them back into line – as with the time I decided I was getting married; and they were not initially too sold on the idea.

  And for all of those, he was my best man!

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