Monthly Archives: May 2014

A MESSAGE TO THE GRADUATING CLASS OF 2014!

It is the graduating season again!  There are graduations at all levels taking place and will be taking place in the next month; from preschool all the way to university level. Congratulations to all.

 

It is a time of congratulations, proud parents and family, happiness, joy and laughter for the graduates, however there is also trepidation for some as they recognise it is time to go out and take their place in the big wide world!  It is a time for speeches and encouraging words.  And here I draw upon my letters to my nephew Pat and niece, Maralie, who graduated from Law School and High School, respectively:

 

CONGRATULATIONS!!!  For the high school graduates, this is the first of your major graduations, and this is why it is so important. As the saying goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”  That first step signals that you are ready to embrace the other pathways that will lead to your dreams and to the other major graduations and milestones.

 

What do I want to say to you?  I want to leave with you some of the lessons and values I was taught by my family that has kept and served me well.  Your name is the only thing that you leave this world with, so do nothing that will bring you and your name to disrepute.  My father would often say to us, that it was not our name but his that he bestowed on us, so we had to guard it well!  In guiding you to uphold this position, the litmus test is to refrain from anything that you would be ashamed of or would bring shame to you and your family if others knew about it.  This leads you to appreciate that it is your content of character that matters most.  You are a leader and not a follower; so don’t go doing things just because others are doing it.  Be prepared to stand alone and on your own, for the things that are dear to you.  Be your own person and don’t be swayed by popular things and people in doing things that do not edify you and those whose lives you touch.

 

You are to seek and listen to counsel, however you are to use it to make the decision that is right for your life.  As you continue your journey of life, there will be those, who love, care, support and protect you, and there will be detractors.  Don’t pay too much attention to your detractors; remain focused on your goals and journey.  However, listen and sift what they say, for there may be some nuggets of wisdom and truth in what they say.  Take those nuggets of wisdom and truth and use them to your good, and let go of the negative things that serve no useful purpose.

 

We did not come to this world alone, contrary to popular belief and saying.  It took two persons for us to be conceived, a mother to incubate us for nine months, doctors and midwives to receive us along with other cheering and happy family members eager for our entry into this world.  And even if your entry were not heralded with great joy and fanfare, you were born and you are here! This means that you are to always be thankful and appreciative of the people in your live.  A thankful, appreciative heart cannot be depressed; cannot give rise to a negative attitude.  A thankful, appreciative heart results in a positive attitude and a willingness and eagerness to give back.  You are to be your “brothers’ and sisters’ keeper”.     We impact people even without knowing it at times, so ensure that your encounter with others is positive.    Be a bright shining light, be a rainbow of hope to others.

 

Be generous with your time, talent and treasure.  However, be prudent with your finances and spending.  It is not so much how much you earn, but how much you spend, which determines how much you can save and build wealth.  Financial independence is the cornerstone of true independence.

 

Know that your family is always there for you, loving, caring, supporting in good and challenging times.  They are there to share your joys and lighten your load!  They are happy and proud of you and there is so much joy as they share this special moment with you.  Your family loves you unconditionally and they have made the sacrifices for you freely and willingly, and there is “no charge,” for their love.  They may not be happy with some of your decisions and actions however they will always love and support you and focus instead on the love behind the action. I want you to never take that love for granted.  You are to return that love in double portions!  And as your journey of life continues and takes you to new paths and successes; do not forget them; do not lose contact.  In today’s world staying in touch is so much easier and cheaper.  For me, I sustain myself with the love of my family, my rock and the wind beneath my wings.

 

This message would not be complete without an exhortation to keep God as and at the centre of your life.  Everything you are and have comes from God and you need to always acknowledge His presence in your life.  As Proverbs 3:6 advises, “In all thy ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.”  With God, all things are possible.  It does not mean that you get everything you want, and that there are no worries and pain.  It means that you will always have what you need and that you will overcome all heartaches and pain.  Three quotes; my favourite, “The finger of God never points where He has not yet laid the way,” and the popular ones, “God will never bring you and leave you,” and “God’s Grace is sufficient for you,” have kept me grounded and secure that I can go boldly in the pursuit of my dreams and on the journey of life, I pass them on to you and pray that they too will serve as sustenance for your soul and an anchor of faith, hope and love for your life.

 

As I take my leave, I Congratulate You again!  I wish you God’s continued Blessings, Guidance and Protection.  I pray God continues to watch over you, bestow on you His wisdom, understanding, discernment, peace that surpasses all understanding, enlarge your territory while holding you in the Palm of His Hands.  May He always be a Light unto Your Path and a Lamp for Your Feet.

 

Your entire family joins with me to say Hip! Hip! Hooray!  You’ve Done It!  You Are on Your Way to a Bright, Prosperous and Happy Future!  Go Godward; He Has Already Laid the Path!!

 

I can be contacted at info@vfinc.org or Tel: 767 449 9649.

 

Until we meet again, may the Lord continue to Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands.

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A TRIBUTE TO MOTHERS

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers!  May the Lord continue to bless you with love, wisdom, peace, understanding, patience, so that you can continue nurturing your children to ensure they fulfill God’s purpose for their lives and they touch others’ lives meaningfully.

 

In a few days (May 15th) we (my family) will recognise the 42nd anniversary of our mother’s death and celebrate her life.  I was six years old when my mother died and there is not a day that goes by without me recognsing and acknowledging her presence.  She is our guardian angel, who over the years has warned us of pending bad news and kept us together as a close-knit family.  Whenever anyone of us dreams of Mama, a relay goes out to all with a warning to be careful for something bad is about to happen and a reminder that we need to stay close to each other to manage and overcome the bad news.  This has never failed.  Only this morning one of my friends remarked about the closeness of our family, and my mother though absent in body for 42 years, is always present in spirit and has played a key role in maintaining that unity and love.

 

I remember as a child, my father and older siblings would respond, “Mama is in Heaven looking down on us,” when I asked, “Where is Mama?” This helped provide peace and solace.  At the Mahaut Government School, at the morning assembly, for a long time, the school principal, Mr. King would have the whole school sing, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee and Morning has Broken,” for us.  To this day, these two songs are two of my favourites and my “go to songs,” during my valley periods.   Many people rallied around us to provide love and support for my mother died leaving nine children behind, the youngest 6 and the eldest 20.  I cannot name them all however I say “Thank You” to all those who were part of our lives and while in this article I focus on some of the women, there were some men who played key roles in shaping us.  I will pay tribute to the men for Father’ Day.

 

I remember Sister Elsa who wept at Mama’s funeral and always kept an eye out for us.  She would often send me huge tins of chocolate, toffees and biscuits!  I remember Elaine who made my blue and white dress for the funeral.  I can still remember that dress! I also remember Mrs. Blanc and Maureen.  I remember my aunts, Aunty May and Nurse who took us to live with them after Mama’s death, however my brothers came for us shortly after promising my father and aunts that they would help to take care of us as they wanted our family to stay together.  And oh they did a fantastic job! I remember my mother’s friends including Ma Sherry from Salisbury, Mrs. King and Ma Lewis, Ma Marita, Ma Hogan, Ma Mavis, Ma Patrick, my mother’s goddaughter, Famie and the mothers of Mahaut who looked out for us

 

And as I reflect on Mother’s day, I pay homage to my Aunty Vonnie, who loved us unconditionally, cared for and protected us.  Aunty Vonnie had little but she gave us much.  She stepped in to ensure her sister’s children were okay though she had many children of her own.  Her children too loved us dearly.  Aunty Vonnie often cries tears of joy saying that we have not forgotten her, but how can we?  How do you forget and not honour and love a person who gave so much of her life for you, when she did not have to and even more when she had so little?  Aunty Vonnie epitomizes the thought and I take liberty to make an amendment, “With God [and with Love], a little is much.”  Thank You Aunty Vonnie!  Thank You my Cousins!

 

I pay homage to Ma Agatha, Ma Philomen and Ma Magai, who provided another home for us.  I pay homage to Rita, my uncle’s wife who was always so kind to us.  They have moved on to join Mama however I remember.  I remember spending summer holidays in Warner and to this day I cannot drink Nannee and Basilic without milk.  And those penny breads! The scent of nannee and basilic also bring back many happy childhood memories.

 

I pay homage to Shirley who became our primary caregiver, cooking, cleaning, caring and loving.  Shirley also loved us unconditionally and would do anything for our children and us.  To this day, she provides grandmother services!  Nathan loves going by “Mama”, and this is the only place that when I return from my travels, Nathan does not want to come home with me!  Shirley’s home will always be our home.  Thank You Shirley!

 

And lastly I pay homage to my two eldest sisters, Cleo and Connie, particularly Connie who stepped in as Mother for their younger siblings.  These two sisters gave selflessly and on many occasions put their lives on hold to care for us.  When Connie graduated from UWI Mona, Cleo was away at UWI Cave Hill, and she just assumed the role of mother (Cleo also considers Connie as Mother!)   Connie took on that role with such love and humility that we did not for one moment feel that we were burdens.  I remember when we were together, people would ask her whether I was her daughter, and when she would answer, “No, my sister,” I would say, “Tell them I am your daughter!”  You see, I knew she was my sister but felt that she was my mother!  A feeling I still feel!

 

After Connie got married, all of us younger sisters lived with her for sometime, and I stayed the longest (until the year of my 40th birthday – Remember I told you there were some men who played key roles in our lives.  She could not have done that without the love and support of her husband)! After Hurricane David, Cleo placed her doctoral studies on hold to come to care for us in Barbados. They made sacrifices with no complaints.  It was only as we became adults we understood the magnitude of the sacrifices our sisters made.  And they made them expecting nothing from us in return.  They not once reproached us; not once did they remind us of all they have done for us.  My sister Catherine always says, “I grew up without a mother, never feeling I did not have a mother; thanks to the love and support of my sisters and family.”  Cleo and Connie, I thank you for shaping us into the persons we became!  Know that you are the “wind beneath our wings and in our sail.”   We will always remember, give thanks and show our appreciation.  We Give Thanks.

 

Everyday we are to appreciate and give thanks for our mothers and the people in our lives who mothered us, however Mother’s Day, is a reminder for us to stop, give them their flowers while alive and let them know how they have shaped our lives.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to All Mothers and Those who Mother!

 

I can be contacted at info@vfinc.org and Tel: 767 449 9649

 

Until we meet again, may the Lord continue to Keep us in the Palm of His Hands.