Mum [cross-posting from 2010 Voices of Our Future Applicants Group]
I wrote the attached blog in tribute to my primary hero, my grandmother...
And have a Beautiful Day.
Rita Eversley is an amazing force; the person who really left a mark on me and my life. It's still hard to ever speak in the past tense about Mum since she honestly still remains in my space, both mentally and spiritually. She is a woman of character and a true role model if there ever is one.
Mum took on the big responsibility of taking care of her daughter's children at the time that she needed. I was fortunate that the time of great need for my mother to leave was around the time I was small. I repeat, it was good, since the final result was this good for me ultimately.
At the time I would have thought I was disadvantaged somehow, not having a mother, but the truth is my grandmother was more than a mother by far to me. she was a lady, who showed generosity to the highest and could give and receive unconditionally. I just loved her!
When I think of my Mum I can still see her smile and hear laughter wherever she'd go. She had such a sense of humour and a passion for life! And she always was thankful for the blessings she's received.
What was special about Rita was the fact that despite her upbringing Mum had really become a success. Now success in my estimation means that she had become all she wanted. She had no regrets about her life, her achievements; of the choices she'd made. I have never once felt that she wished she had made different decisions in her time.
The story of my grandmother is remarkable. Mum was raised as a servant, coming out of the Alms House, an institution to take care of people without family. You see, Mum's mother passed away when she was very small and her father could not take care of her. So although she knew her parents' names and still spoke about them with pride, Mum never quite knew her parents and dealt with the hand she was given, and quite remarkably so too.
Through those years as a 'domestic' as they were referred, Mum made a point of embracing the duties at hand, while still trying to maintain her true self. The story she'd tell us was that whatever her attitude, the nurses in the Institution admired her and they took her under their wing ultimately and even brought her into their homes.
Whatever she did or she showed: this led to my Mum being given instruction in reading and writing and all of the fine things of life in society; since the nurses of that time represented a relatively decent profession and the families were well off.
So this orphan was given exposure to life at that level and made the decision to embrace the best parts of a tough deal - the loss of her parents. Mum prided herself in her handwriting, her language, her etiquette; all part of her education in this circle. She didn't stay in school past fourteen, but somehow could handle her language REMARKABLY and knew what the right thing to say at what time is.
The things I remember about my Mum were that she picked out the best of that world and introduced that to her family. She never allowed me to speak badly in Bajan dialect. In fact I never got into it until into secondary school and today I still see no need to embrace it. Add to that she only prepared meals of high calibre: I never saw a fish cake till I was twelve or something, and that was because it was basic, commonplace as she would say.
Mum insisted that we learn table manners, and each Sunday we'd set the lunch table and proceed to use the utensils in entirety.
The result was: by the time I had to sit English examinations in school, I didn't have to learn anything. It's because it WAS my first language, literally. I've never been fazed by high environments either. Fancy settings and big shots mean precious little as I've been educated how to handle myself in the basics, and the rest is up to me.
But my Mum also showed self dependence, strength of spirit, the power of an amazing will. Somehow Mum raised all of us children on very, very little resources. When I was a teenager she was on pension, and that somehow sustained a whole household as my father was not contributing and my mother was very much away.
I still don't recall her complaining, unbelieving or angry with the deal. She just found amazing manoeuvres to pull this thing off. And yes, she was laughing; so much of the way! I know now it was sometimes a mechanism to cope, and stubbornness was too, a part of that road. There were times she was so ill but nobody knew as she kept trying to protect from overburdening anyone! She was really a great, strong woman.
But it was the fact that she gave what she had that most touched me. My Mum couldn't work on A Level Maths with me, but she could sit up and ensure I had company late at night. And she could refresh me with food and hot drink into the night.
No wonder my memories of Mum are still great, still warm, still good!
Later I found out that she gave this same dedication to my big sister Anne, who Mum also raised almost exclusively as she was the first child to a young mother.
This was her claim to fame: her generosity, her giving, her friendship and warmth. And somehow she remained a lady till the end. She never betrayed her daughter, my father, and their secrets. And to this day we are unclear of what they went through. And it's because Mum's first focus was on the children, on helping to make their experience as painless as could be. She took on the burden of care giver, of 'grounder' and incredibly she pulled this off.
I was given the opportunity of giving back to this lady when at sixteen I had a dream that she'd died and had left me behind. And the pain was excruciating even in my sleep! So much, I decided to dedicate my life to ensuring that her last days were happy. I withdrew her activities and took over taking care of myself. Gradually the others followed and eventually Mum became the true matriarch she should have been.
She still had her challenges and our love for each other led to jealousy in the family. But despite that my Mum kept her full sense of humour and her will to survive overcame. She's still with me today and she will be as long as I live.