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By Dale Andrews No one has two fathers, but in most cases there are always persons other than your biological father who would have a profound effect on your life.One of those persons for me was Patrick Fredericks, a former English Language and Literature teacher at Queen’s College, who passed away a little over a week ago.Although I never had the opportunity of being directly tutored by him, just being in the same school was enough for him to command my utter respect, as well as the respect of everyone attending QC during my secondary school days in the 1980’s.Mr. Fredericks or “Freddo” as we so often referred to him (out of earshot) was the ultimate teacher and father figure.As news of his death filtered through, e-mails began circulating all around the globe.Such was Freddo’s effect on so many people, that his death solicited comments from all those whose lives he touched as a teacher.From doctors to lawyers, international entertainers to journalists,Gary Medel Chile Jersey, lecturers to teachers, all of whom passed through his hands at Queen’s College, the tributes poured in. My first real personal experience with Freddo was not the happy meeting that many would like to recall.I was late for school and although I was in the ‘long pants’ stage of my school career,Terrell Davis Broncos Jersey, I was not spared the wild cane.Three strokes from Freddo just after General Assembly were enough to make me reconsider the way I looked at punctuality.I was not the only person in my era at QC to recall the impact Freddo had on our lives.Last week I got e-mails from Dr. Davine Armstrong, international entertainer Andy Ninvalle, Sharda Veeren-Chand, a former Executive of Demerara Distillers Limited, and many other persons who were in my class when Freddo ruled the turf.They were all playing their part to see that he got a proper send-off.Although I did not go to his funeral, news of what transpired was relayed to me and it still had a striking effect on me.In one particularly moving tribute, Andy Ninvalle, who is now one of the top artistic directors in the Netherlands wrote, “My first contact with Mr. Fredericks or “Freddo” as we all fondly called him, was during my first week of high school, Queens College, sometime at the end of August 1980.Shoulders held noticeably higher than usual, he peered at me with a smirk, which, strangely enough, comforted me more than its potentially intimidating association.He raised one eyebrow effortlessly,Mario Williams Dolphins Jersey, an amazing feat of muscular coordination which registered to my already young creative mind, and said, “Are you Pete’s little brother?”There was something eerily rhetorical about his intensity that strongly suggested that he was right and I was supposed to simply confirm.“Freddo” strikes a pose with Andy Ninvalle and Dr Davine Armstrong during a visit they paid to him last Christmas.The comfort that I felt a second ago departed in an alarmed rush through my armpits, leaving a spontaneous residue of sweat and a strange lump in my throat. I blinked a few times to control myself and then managed to croak, “Yes Sir” in a tone I didn’t recognize to be my own voice. Mr. Fredericks had that power. He nodded his head in affirmation and still smirking, he remarked, “Your brother is a scholar and colleague of mine, young Ninvalle, you have a lot of work to do!”He said something after that, but the sound of my heart pounding in my head was so hard that all I heard was him mumble as my instincts screamed, “Breathe Andy! Breathe!!”There were many of us who upon seeing Freddo coming down the corridors, would cease whatever mischief we were up to and even appear studious, although many times we forgot where the book was.I must admit that Freddo’s death was a surprise to me. I learnt about it from my mother who is forever watching the death announcements on television.Although I had left school almost three decades ago,Houston Cougars Jerseys, more than anyone else my mother would remember Mr. Fredericks.My father had died while I was a teenager in Fourth Form and like many boys at that stage of life, a grieving singl- parent mother would have found it very difficult to maintain a tight lid.I had several uncles who were more than capable of filling the void in discipline that was left by my father, but yet my mother chose Freddo for the task.Needless to say that was maybe one of the best moves she could have made, for my uncles could have been easily manipulated, but not Freddo.There were many times I transgressed the disciplinary barrier at home and would feel that my mother was not going to do anything about it.I was wrong. Later in the day I would see my mother standing outside the staff room with tears in her eyes trying to get the attention of Mr. Fredericks. Then almost an hour later I would get that dreaded call to the staff room and would be face to-face with that man Freddo.My mother believed, and rightfully so, that Freddo was the one person to get my attention.I was not alone in that regard.Mr. Fredericks went on to be one of my biggest inspirations and father figures in Ninvalle’s life also.“Since my father had left our home in 1974 and I was unconsciously looking for guidance, he was perfect. He would always give me constructive criticisms about my English and made me really think about the reasons I was being naughty. I excelled in creative writing, thanks to his tutoring and as a professional I embrace many basic values which are a direct consequence of his meticulousness. I remember very clearly one time when I was embarrassed to ask him something he said to me,Navy Midshipmen Jerseys, “Mr. Ninvalle………. Asking a question is just a moment’s embarrassment, never to ask the question is a lifetime of embarrassment,” Ninvalle wrote.I can also recall Freddo upbraiding me and a close classmate who now resides in the United Kingdom about interfering with the females in our school. The advice he gave me then has lived with me unto this day, especially now that I have been blessed with four daughters.I was not alone in this regard.“As a mentor myself, I have applied Freddo’s tactics, strategies and have delivered his teachings to young people all over Europe. His signature poise, confidence and control in the classroom is something I can never duplicate but I definitely try to convey his excellence as a teacher and mentor,” Ninvalle added.I was disappointed that I never got to meet Freddo up close since I left school.Sometimes I would see him walking in the Kingston area, but I was too preoccupied to stop my car for a brief moment. It was not that I was angry with him for the many ‘benchings’ he gave me.I was even more ashamed of myself when I learnt that some of my former colleagues who reside overseas paid him a visit last Christmas when they holidayed in Guyana.“Imagine I am right here in Guyana and I never did that,” I thought to myself.As for Andy who was one of the former colleagues who made that visit, for 27 years he always wanted to see him and thank him.“To let him know the amazing impact he has had on my then young life which makes me spiritually defy the laws of gravity as an adult. As a matter of fact,Claudio Bravo Chile Jersey, on a rare visit to Guyana last Christmas I made it my duty to do this. On 7th January 2010, together with Tabitha Philander and Davine Armstrong, both ex classmates and QC old girls, we did a planned, but for him, impromptu visit. He was euphoric!”“We laughed, joked, reminisced and conversed about our personal lives and professions. He looked incredibly healthy, eyes bright and enthusiastic, skin glowing with positive energy and wits as sharp as a Gillette razor. I complimented him about this and in typical Freddo form he raised his eyebrows and chuckled rhetorically, “Mr. Ninvalle, what did U expect to see when U saw Freddo?” We all guffawed unanimously. What a visit! He took all of our addresses and encouraged us to keep in contact with him and when we left we couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful the visit to this Queen’s College teaching legend was. For weeks we were emailing back and forth about finally meeting this amazing man and encouraging our peers to do likewise. Many old boys and girls have as a consequence visited him and now…………… this.”Just last week I met two former schoolmates, one a very senior officer of the Guyana Defence Force and the other a former magistrate and now defence attorney. Needless to say they all shared the sentiments of everyone one with whom I spoke about Freddo’s passing.Mr. Patrick Fredericks will never be gone. Not for Queen’s College old boys and girls. His love, excellence and positive energy will be reciprocated through our children and their children and so on and so forth. His stories will be continuously and enthusiastically told and his characteristic habits will be cloned and imitated.
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