The world is indeed small and, for many of us, a world view is lacking,so that smallness is not necessarily a good thing. My friend Patrick James was born in relative prosperity on the small, outragiously beautiful Caribbean island of Dominica, where opportunities for travel, for a rewarding career and for a satisfying life can be a dream, followed by reality witness the twice as many Dominicans (as those living in Dominica) who are living, working or comfortably retired in such far flung countries as the U.S.A., the United Kingdom and Canada.
During his growing up years, however, and as a result of circumstance, Patrick experienced wild swings of fortune but, because he was fortunate enough to be blessed with great intelligence and sensitivity, he grasped education as his means for personal fulfillment as wellas his ticket off the island and into the greater world. To do so meant severing family ties that sustain us in difficult times, including a short separation from his beloved grandfather, who sent him back to his parents for petty thieving and so that he might learn a lesson the hard way, become repentant, ask for forgiveness and, gleefully, be accepted back into his beloved grandfather's household. At that time (1938) Patrick's parents lived in Antigua, approximately 90 miles away from Dominica and, to Patrick, Antigua did not feel like home. Prior to Patrick's temporary banishment and, form time to time, all too sympathetic Patrick eight year old Patrick would steal a few pennies from his grandfather's shop drawer, to feed his less fortunate and very hungry friends. Finally, Patrick was caught and sent away as a form of punishment for wrong doing. While Patrick lived in Dominica with his grandfather, he had to cope with the absence of his father, who would have provided guidance and taught him to be self reliant. Patrick grew up being all thumbs. Later, he taught himself self reliance.
Patrick overcame all obstacles and his travels would take him t several other islands in the Caribbean area, including Guyana and Venezuela in South America, both of which do have Caribbean sea fronts, the Canary Islands off the west coast of North Africa, Barcelona on Spain's Mediterranean coast line, Genoa in Italy, Nice and Paris in France, Brussels (Belgium), Amsterdam (the Netherlands), the United Kingdom, Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, Singapore, Perth (Western Australia and, finally, Florida, U.S.A Patrick would see his love of education allowing him to teach into his eighties, affecting the lives of thousands of human beings in many countries.
To meet Patrick is to meet an African American and a world citizen, a cultured man with a beautiful English accent and a Caribbean lilt to his voice, whose qualities of hard work, empathy, intelligence and respect are instantly apparent in the first moments of making his acquaintance, and whose knowledge of world affairs, literature and history and his unwavering religious faith make him a lodestone to his friends and acquaintances, a leader by example to others, and to children a guiding North Star to fulfilling their own hopes and dreams.