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My dad possessed a wealth of knowledge

My dad possessed a wealth of knowledge


by DR. Melanie “Kimmy” Kirby

My dad Dr. Ian Ayrton Earle Kirby has now passed on to meet his beloved Granny Fina who he had always said will be waiting in heaven. My mother, brother and I will miss him always.

My parents celebrated 53 years of marriage in April of this year. It was a quiet private celebration with Daddy having not been able to get out of his bed for over three years. The weak points of his body were his hips which were severely arthritic. Having a strong will he had decided over 10 years ago that hip replacement surgery was not for him – he had already had his “three score and ten.” {{more}} I know he had a secret fear of being anesthetized – I think he worried that under an anesthetic he would not be able to tell the surgeons how to do their job most efficiently. Despite the physical problem of not being able to walk, his brain has never faltered.

On Sunday, September 4, I learned during my phone conversation with him about Hurricane Katrina and a few things about weather systems – my dad could speak with some level of knowledge on any topic. He gave me no indication that he did not feel very well – but as always he kept a strong presence, spoke heartily and we ended our conversation with “love you daddy, love you too Wats” (his secret name for me).

We had a memorable childhood. We did many of the usual activities together as a family – Sunday picnics at Argyle, kite flying, playing Cricket in the yard at Campden Park. One memorable cricket match, Daddy bowled to Ash, Mummy and I were fielders and the ball came off the bat straight to Mummy’s forehead. She fell like a log. After that we changed to flannel ball from leather seed balls.

A few unique childhood memories come to mind. Dad took us with him on occasion, usually weekends when he had to attend to his patients – the animals. Yes, he was a trained Veterinarian. We saw many difficult deliveries from the unique vantage point of a mango tree, of calves, baby goats and a memorable autopsy on a chicken at Montrose – there were so many eggs at different stages of development.

I remember watching him attempt to castrate a horse at Orange Hill Estate; the horse bucked, got up and kicked him in his shin resulting in a large goose egg. As he always did, there was no request for payment for services, and we drove back to Georgetown to a little shop for bread and cheese chased with a Pepsi (he should have had shares in the Pepsi Company he drank 1-2 pepsis I would bet, every day of his life). Dads never requested payment for services from the small farmer to the estate owner. He was happy with his moderate income and never sought to acquire wealth. His wealth came from inside and the service he gave to his country.

Wealth of knowledge – any topic you wanted to talk about, but passionate about Vincentian History and Archeology. Daddy is (was) the most patriotic Vincentian I know. He refused more lucrative job offers in Canada and elsewhere in the Caribbean. He stayed to make a difference here at home. He fought for the Vincentian Parrot, measures to prevent exploitation and extinction. He had a passion for Vincentian History and Archaeology. As children we watched him leave many Sundays “digging for pots.” He would return with his treasures – no St. Vincent’s treasures – in bags and boxes and gradually the windowsills of our house became covered. Mummy gave an ultimatum “either the pots go or I go.” That was the catalyst to find a more appropriate location to house these treasures for Vincentians to have access. The Museum in the Botanical Gardens was born – his baby. What pride he had showing locals and foreigners alike the treasures of his beloved country. He was deeply hurt on hearing in recent times of the theft of some of these items for some selfish private collections abroad and even here in St. Vincent? I hope not. If so, I use this opportunity to make a plea on his behalf that these be returned so all can see them. No dollar value could ever be adequate to pay for these treasures. One day I hope to bring my own three children to see the new Museum in all its glory as – I want them to understand one small part of why I am so proud of my dad, their grandfather.

There are so many memories that are a permanent part of me. He suffered pain more so in very recent months and he now is no longer troubled by that pain. We miss him and will continue to miss him especially Mummy. Through all of his contacts and experiences with so many other people our lives are richer. We have so many friends “like family.” He enriched and helped the lives of so many in this country and he thought us all how to be good citizens in the true sense of the word. Love you dad.