The Father’s Day wish a sad dad would love

Even “Happy Father’s Day” wishes from each of Paul Brown’s nine remaining children still leave a void.

He longs for one today from his late 24-year-old son Patrick, whom he had to bury. It would mean the world.

Naturally, he will not get it. And not getting that wish last year for the first time was brutal.

“He died last year March, so I missed out on his Father’s Day wish. He would be one of the first of my children to tell me ‘Happy Father’s Day.’ I really missed out on that. He would call me and say, ‘Dad, what’s up? Nothing nah gwan on the Father’s Day, but mi a call and give you a shout up.’ That space is now empty,” Paul Brown told the Jamaica Observer.

“You just have to focus and stay positive, mentally and physically. I know that I will never see him again, not in this life. So it is just what it is. I have to just accept it and know that I will be here for my other children and that’s it,” he added.

His son Patrick, otherwise called Welsh, along with three other men, was killed by police on March 9, 2022 in Zambia, Central Village, St Catherine.

Police said it was a targeted operation in the community. Patrick was named by police as a person of interest in a shooting committed in the Central Village area — which his dad refuted.

“It was my first experience of burying a child. I was a part of my mother’s funeral, and I was a part of my father’s funeral. But to lose a son, it was really devastating for me. Even moreso, the way how he died. The fact that he was killed by the police, and when I went to the funeral parlour to identify his body, I could not recognise him because his face was disfigured,” Brown said.

Police reports were that Patrick and three other men were killed after engaging the police in a gunfight. The incident unfolded between 2:00 am and 4:00 am, and three firearms were also seized in the operation.

The deceased include 16-year-old Deandre “Little D” Channer from Mountain View, 21-year-old Romario “Mari” Brewster from Rollington Town, and 22-year-old Nigel “Baja” Adams from Sarah Street.

Police listed both Channer and Brewster as members of the Top Burgher Gully gang and suspects in a murder committed in February 2022 in the Kingston East Police Division.

Brown said he wasn’t allowed to see his son’s body the same day, after a representative from the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) told him at Spanish Town Hospital that the body was too disfigured and seeing it could be traumatising.

A month later, he was summoned to identify the body at a funeral home in the parish, and last year, he had told the Sunday Observer that the body he saw was not his son’s. A DNA test was subsequently done almost two weeks later with the mother to aid in the identification process.

The results confirmed that it was indeed his son.

“I could not even acknowledge so I declined accepting the body. So they even had to do a DNA test with his mother to prove that it was him. The second time I went to the morgue wasn’t really to identify the body — that time it was more to accept it because the DNA proved that it was him. And looking at the body, I realised it was him. It was really heart-rending,” he said.

The wait of over three months for confirmation brought on anguish, but actually putting his son, whom he watched walk and talk for the first time, in the ground brought on another level of woe.

“At his funeral, family members and his siblings… they were depending on me as the strong one. You can just imagine. I got emotional at some point because I was the one who did the eulogy,” Brown told the Sunday Observer.

“I just tried to do my best and I was consoled by my older sister. They were there for me. In these cases, when somebody looks at you for you to be strong and then you break down, it is like you make matters worse. It is just one of those things.”

But the feeling has not left him, and perhaps it never will.

“It is an everyday thing — every single day. I live with this everyday. Since he passed, I always remember him. I think about the fact that he did not even leave a child behind so I could look at him and say, ‘Yes, this is my grandson.’ I could probably put him in his place then, so to speak. I don’t even like to have a conversation about it. It’s grieving, but life goes on.”