“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)
As a young man, my father attended a funeral of an old family friend at St. Margaret’s in Kingston, Jamaica. Afterward he stood in the back of the church, listening to the older men’s conversation. Most of them were mocking the deceased, alluding to his meager character and foolish lifestyle. They had come to pay their respects but had no respect for the lifeless man in the coffin.
The event marked my father indelibly. To have lived decades and yet leave behind a tragic impression was unconscionable. My father committed then to spend his days in such a way that at his funeral no one would have room to laugh or mock in disdain.
My father succeeded in all areas worthwhile. As the saying goes, he made hay while the sun was shining and built up a thriving business at 91 Princess Street in the middle of downtown Kingston. He married a girl of sixteen and stayed true to his wedding vows to love and to cherish till death do us part. For the last eight years of her life, after a stroke robbed my mother of her mobility and independence, my father cradled my mother’s life in his own two hands and cared for her as if his own life depended on it.
His customers called him “Mista Elite” in their Jamaican patwah dialect, thinking that the blue-circled insignia over the front door with the letters ELITE in bold white print referred to his surname. It could have. Though many establishments in that rough area of Kingston were robbed at gunpoint, my father’s store was not. He had a reputation for taking care of the poor and giving his merchandise away to needy orphanages and schools.
He kept a jar of coins at the front desk to press into the palms of any who sauntered in with their hands outstretched. In a country without adequate social services, he and my mom became the safety net for their staff. They paid school fees and doctor bills. They helped with mortgages and marriages and medications. The word got around. The gunmen left him alone.
My father was not perfect, but perhaps his finest legacy was parenting the five of us with a good mixture of discipline, security, and love. I can easily picture the heavenly Father as gracious, benevolent, and good because I saw such traits in my dad. He noticed when we had a need and moved heaven and earth to help us. He instilled in us the mandate to care for each other, to give without counting the cost involved, to be the first one to overlook a fault, to forgive at all costs.
My father showed me what love looks like when it is lived out. Souhail Karram was his name—it will always be a good one.
Beautiful, Elizabeth…just beautiful.
Thank you Nancy. So appreciate the feedback from you!
Also a skilled archer. The arrow he released still flies true to the mark!
What a beautiful compliment and insight. Thank you!
A beautiful remembrance
I love this
Thank you brother!
Elizabeth, what a beautiful tribute to your beloved dad. Strength, courage, fortitude he was a blessing.
Thank you Janine. Appreciate you so much
Thanks Elizabeth. This post was sad at first but how beautiful that your father took that sad story and used it to learn wisdom. Very encouraging. I’m also intrigued by the photo of a locked gate to seemingly nowhere. Very thought provoking.
Thanks Donna. The door with the sunshine was a reference to his making hay while the sun was shining!
A father’s actions over his journey through life speak volumes that can’t always be put into words. What a blessing your father was to so many. Thank you for sharing.
Jerry I’m so thankful to hear that. You are so welcome my friend
A wonderful tribute my friend to your Father and your Mother. The love and character to care for others in need.
Thank you Steve.
What beautiful memories of your dad Elizabeth, and wonderful legacy he has left behind.
Thank you Talei. How very wonderful to hear from you. Blessings on you and your ministry my friend.
Elizabeth, I was delighted to have heard today’s devotional, regarding the history of your parents what beautiful and blessed works they did now you are blessed through them touching and changing hearts with your devotionals, I admire and bless you with all my heart.
Thank you Ivonne. I so appreciate hearing from you. Thank you for your kind words.
Elizabeth , What a lovely tribute to Mr. K as I called him.
As someone who worked for your Dad I can certainly testify to your words. He was an honorable, generous, loving, caring person and I am honored to have served him in his final years. My life is richer and I am so blessed for having known him. He was one of a kind!
Marie. You were an angel when we needed one.
We will always be grateful for your loving care of Dad.