Joseph Valentine, 77, is no ordinary dad.
He displayed unconditional love despite facing decades of ridicule because he was raising two children who some would colloquially refer to as jackets.
The native of Mendez district in Point Hill, St Catherine, was disappointed on two occasions when the woman with whom he was living ended up having two sons – not for him, but for her purported ex-lover.
“I was disappointed bad,” Valentine said.
Despite the disappointment, Valentine twice forgave the children’s mother, treated the two children as his own, and eventually got married to the said woman.
“Mi forgive her and get married to her,” he told The Beacon.
“I never mek the situation give me heartburn or bad feelings. Me and the mother were still together from 1973 up to the time she died in 2008; she died right in my hand.”
Valentine said he remained unflinchingly loyal even when members of his community, on different occasions, intensified the mockery.
“Nuff people cried me down, but it never trouble mi; it always come to me like it was the will of God.”
Valentine, after twice becoming step-dad instead of dad, went on to have a biological child with the woman.
He described himself as one of the most wonderful fathers around town.
“I would describe myself as one of the most wonderful father to a child. I never have any ills in my heart against them and so forth. I tried to grow them in the right path and always be a father for them,” he said, adding that he shares his story to encourage fathers to love children unconditionally.
“I always tell them to be strong and be a father to a next child that does not belong to them,” added Valentine – a farmer by profession.
One of the children who was born in controversy, Howard Harvey, in an interview with The Beacon, spoke glowingly of Valentine.
“Despite finding out that I am not his child, he still cared for me. He said to me, ‘you are my son’. He never say ‘your mother cheated on me‘… It’s only when I grew up I understand fully the pain he has been through, but he never take it out on us his step-children.”
Harvey further declared that, as a result of the love he received from his step-dad, he too has developed an unspeakable love for children.
“I look at my step-father as my hero; I have learned so much from him. Because of that, I have a love for children. When I see children, I feel like I am a father to them,” Harvey reasoned.
He noted that, as a show appreciation, he wrote the following song for his step-dad:
Meanwhile, Harvey, a Gospel artiste who uses the stage name Praise Machine, told The Beacon that his biological father lived less than a mile away from where he was raised in Point Hill.
He said no DNA test was ever done to verify his paternity, adding that he is the spitting image of the man who turned out to be his biological dad. He was also registered in his biological father’s surname.
Harvey stated that, at one point, his late biological father invited him to live with him, but he opted to remain with his step-father.
Harvey, who initially eked out a living selling goods in and around the community of Point Hill, eventually migrated to England at the age of 18, and is now a minister of religion.
He stated that his step-dad, so far, visited him twice in the United Kingdom.
He also visits his stepfather in Jamaica.
By Horace Mills, Journalist (B.A Media and Communications. UWI.)
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