The Jackman family. (Picture by Sandy Pitt.)
For Alpha Jackman, family means everything.
Coming from a household of 17 children, Alpha told Easy Magazine that paved the way for him to be the ultimate family man, which is something he prides himself in being.
“It’s all about family. My mom and dad were married for 50 years before they passed away. So we’ve always been a close-knit family. I have learnt from that. I understand the values and I’ve used those values and principles to have my own family. My four kids and my wife and me are very close. I try to mirror what my parents had, not the amount of children though, but I teach them the principles of family and marriage and so on. Family means a lot,” Alpha explained.
And as it’s the season for all things family, Alpha is definitely in his element and enjoying everything Christmas has to offer and so much more.
But this Christmas season, being able to be present with his family and celebrate the very joyous occasion means so much more to him after a serious health scare. Today, he’s all the more grateful to be surrounded by his family – wife Todne, and children Sedia, Alpha Jr (AJ), Christopher and Skyy and grandson Ethan.
This past September, Alpha, the guest services manager at Sandy Lane Hotel suffered a stroke while delivering a speech to newly appointed prefects at the Daryl Jordan Secondary School.
His wife Todne recounted the very scary moment, and thanked the staff of the school for their excellent work, which she believes stopped the situation from being so much worse.
“He went to the school to make a speech to the kids and they said he did a very good presentation and at the end of it they saw him acting funny and he said call the ambulance and call his wife. So I went to the school and we realised then and there that he had a stroke. But the teachers at the school were just fantastic. I think because of them he’s the way he is today. They were about ten teachers; someone was rubbing his hand, foot, head and knees. Someone had a fan and was telling him to keep pumping his hand. Ironically, they had just done a training on stroke victims and stuff like that. I took him back a few weeks ago to see them and they were all so emotional to see him, so it’s very good that he’s where he is right now,” she recalled.
In an intimate interview with Easy Magazine surrounded by his family, Alpha said never in his life did he imagine that something of that nature would happen to him.
“Sickness can call on anyone at any time and I realised that. So sometimes you just have to pray, hope for the best and try hard. I was a patient for one full week. Strokes are something that we do not have full education on. I couldn’t walk, chew or anything like that at first, but I’m thankful though that my mental faculties are still intact. I’ve never been in the hospital until this sickness. The nurses and everyone did a very good job. My workmates and people you don’t even know are there for you. Also different groups, who come to the hospital and pray with you. I commend them for that; it was really good. I thought that was really nice,” he explained, while not going too much into detail due to the sensitive nature of the illness.
But Alpha did not go through the ordeal alone. His very close-knit family was with him every step of the way.
“It’s been quite a journey, but my family has been tremendous. My wife is my new nurse and all my kids. Skyy used to make egg white omelets for me when I first got home from the hospital for about two weeks. She used to help me count my reps when I’m doing my exercises.”
“Christopher became my barber; he would shave my hair for me. AJ is my strength, I had to learn to walk all over again and he wouldn’t let me walk up the stairs alone. He was always with me. They never left my side so I was never alone. Sedia became my publicist. She took my phone away from me and was able to send out updates on me through Facebook and Instagram. My recovery has been pretty good. So the prayers have been working,” the 53-year-old said.
So following his illness, Alpha stressed why this Christmas will be an extra special one in the Jackman household and why he is thankful for the gift of family, which he said, was one gift, which lasts forever.
“This Christmas is special for me. I’m very glad to be alive. They were times I didn’t know I would get this far, but I try really hard, I pray every morning, and every morning I get up I read a book called “A Prayer A Day”. This Christmas is the first Christmas I will be off in 31 years. Working in the hotel industry, you have to be at work as that’s the busiest time at the hotel, so you have to be working around the clock. So being home with my family is the good part about it, I would say. I been painting a bit, sprucing up with the little energy I have. I might even play Santa Claus. So we are going to have a really good time this year,” he said with a smile that could light up an entire stadium.
In a very emotional moment, Tonde told Easy Magazine she is most thankful that her husband is still with them and able to spend a full Christmas at home after a very long time.
“For me, this Christmas is very important and I’m trying to make it as nice as possible since he was ill. We are about to travel again to Miami for his treatment, so I’m trying to make this Christmas a great one. My dad is here and my sister is here from Chicago, so it’s important for us to make sure that Alpha’s happy, because as much as he looks like this, he’s still not well. Still a long way to go. Just having him at home and not in the hospital means the world to me,” Tonde said.
Nine-year-old Skyy who hardly left her father’s side during the interview, also chimed in, adding that she was thankful she would be able to eat Christmas lunch with her father this year.
“I’m looking forward to opening my gifts with my daddy and eating my lunch and dinner with him and have some fun times and watch TV and listen to music with him,” she said.
As far as Christmas traditions go, Alpha said he is looking forward to creating some new ones this year and squashing one in particular, which the kids would be especially excited about.
“They’re only allowed to open one gift on Christmas morning. But this year they can open all one time. We just freshened up the house. Put up the tree together and decorated it together and we will eat and have fellowship together. This year we will go to church for sure,” he said.
In keeping with the Christmas mood, Alpha sent his best wishes to all Barbadians as well.
“I wish Barbados a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. They’re a lot of people who are struggling. I pray and hope we can get better in this country, we need it. I pray for a much better 2018 and I’m wishing all Barbados a prosperous New Year and prayers for all those who are ill and special greetings to them”. (DB)