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