A Jamaican’s Journey to Time and Patience by Derrick Garland Coy, is a remarkable memoir that reflects elements of hope, courage, determination and faith.
Derrick Coy writes of the trials and tribulations in his 67 years of life by carefully illustrating the lessons he learned along the way – a testament to his faith which saw him through the most difficult of times.
We are immediately introduced to the culture of the West Indies and all the dynamics that make up this diverse nation. Following Jamaica’s motto, “Out of Many, One People”, this story spans four generations of the multi-ethnic family and Coy paints a detailed picture of the family tree from his grandparents to his grandchildren.
We are first introduced to Coy’s grandfather, James Keow-Chin, a Chinese immigrant who settled in Jamaica during the early 1900s to operate a grocery store. Keow-Chin fathered Terry, Derrick’s mother, with a Black woman by the name of Catherine Woolery, a descendant of the fearless African slaves – better known as the Maroons of Jamaica.
Terry was a defiant and often combative woman who went against her father’s wishes by having Derrick Coy for a Black man.
Coy discusses the difficulties associated with his racial identity while attending school in Hong Kong. His family moved there after Coy’s stepfather took on a new job in China. Further highlights of the memoir come as Derrick Coy relates his experience of awakening during high school upon his return to Jamaica. The contrast between the rebellious truant teen versus the disciplined young man who came to embrace the value of education is remarkable.
The most interesting part of the memoir is that we meet practically every person who has touched and moved Coy regardless of how brief or minor their role, for every role seems to be significant in some way. Glimpses into future lives of various characters are provided with brief references to where they are or what they are doing now, allowing the reader to acquire a full scope of the story. Despite travelling back and forth in time, Coy manages to maintain the story’s rhythm.
The story of demonstrated responsibility cushioned between sub-plots of two nations evolving – one during the civil rights movement and the other with regards to self-governance. It is also a story that is timely, as it coincides nicely with Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence celebrations.
As a man beginning to understand his spiritual identity and pave his way financially, one cannot help but see the parallels of a nation striving to come into its own. Although much of the story is told outside his country of birth, (he lives in the United States) Jamaica is central to the foundation of his memoir.
Despite a troubled youth marked with many brushes with death, discrimination, economic loss, unemployment and marital problems, Coy was able to overcome the impossible and the memoir provides a panoramic view in this Jamaican national’s life.
A Jamaican’s Journey To Time and Patience will have you turning page after page to uncover the story behind the story. The resounding message that you get from the memoir is that anyone can turn his or her life around. We choose our path and we have the power to change it.
With the proper outlook, anything and everything is possible.
By ANGELA WALCOTT