Carrier: My Father and Me

Haitian author, Edwidge Danticat, captured the importance of tradition and the beauty of assimilating into the path of your mother (father) in Krik Krak.  I must have read Danticat a hundred times since she is without a doubt my favorite author.  Yet, in thinking about this blog post, her writing never spoke to me like it does now.  She wrote, “You remember thinking while braiding your hair that you look a lot like your mother. Your mother, who looked like your grandmother and her grandmother before her. Your mother, she introduced you to the first echoes of the tongue that you now speak.”

My father, rest in peace, began his career in the United States Postal Service as a mail carrier.  A job that his father held in the same post office that would become my father’s second home.  When people think of the West Hempstead Post Office, many would immediately think of Ed Kemnitzer, a man who wore the USPS brand every day.  In fact, he brought that strong brand of work ethic and passion home which seeped its way into our “daily soup” as Danticat would claim.  I remember my mother wearing a t-shirt that stated, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  I laugh because the t-shirt had holes and bleach stains.  We all became carriers of that message.  Despite the many promotions, my father always shared that his favorite job was the one of the mail carrier.  He adored the value of delivering goods and the conversation that took place with every member of each house.  As a supreme extrovert and master at building relationships, he needed these connections.  I now look back on his life and wonder if Danticat is right.  Do I follow in his footsteps?  Do I “look a lot like my [father]?”

When you search for a definition of the word carrier, you find the following:

  • A person or company that undertakes the professional conveyance of goods or people.
  • A person that transmits a disease.
  • A substance used to support or convey another substance such as a catalyst.

I look at those definitions, and like my father, I have become a carrier.  With EdCamp Long Island five days away, with over seven hundred educators already signed up, I think about my role in carrying a passion for learning.  My role in co-planning an event that will certainly deliver messages that will be the catalyst for change.  Messages that will help brand education so our students would be champions of this age of innovation.  Perhaps carrying this wonderful disease of a love of learning pays tribute to my father’s life.  The commitment and work ethic that exists in helping others along a network of learning is the “first echo of the tongue” that I speak.  Like my father when he was a mail carrier, I have a thirst for conversation.  I love building relationships that serve as the foundation for my work.

Even further, Danticat closed her chapter in Krik Krak with “And this was your testament to the way that these women lived and died and lived again.” This Saturday, I will celebrate being a carrier.  When I read Krik Krak again and again, I replace the word women with men and I swiftly become her intended audience.  This Saturday, I look forward to spreading our powerful brand so our disease becomes viral.

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