Caribbean Routes: Part 2, Old Harbour Bay, Jamaica

Ena Henry (Williams)

Ena Henry Circa 1944

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Mabel Henry's headstone in Kellits, Clarendon: In Sacred Memory of Mabel Henry, Born 3rd Aug. 1882, Died 14th Dec. 1944

Mabel Henry’s headstone in Kellits, Clarendon: In Sacred Memory of Mabel Henry, Born 3rd Aug. 1882, Died 14th Dec. 1944

Elegy-To My Mother on Her Passing

2005

Aunt Sis,

I was the bump in your belly that took you from the mere child that you were in 1938 and transformed you in 1939 into a reluctant mother. I was the little mouse-like creature inside you that siphoned off some of your nutrition and gave you a questionable reputation. At that time I depended on you for nine months to give me all that I would need to equip me for the essentials of life and you did not let me down!

Events in both our lives would dictate that we would have separate existences from the outset. Later. geography confirmed this separation. A continent was thrown between us to make an already difficult relationship impossible.

More than forty years after these events we reconnected only to discover that time, distance, and the stuff that we call “life” had introduced yet another element into our separateness. We now lived in two solitudes: yours and mine. My family and I spent some time with you in your environment over the last twenty years. And you saw our world when you visited us in Canada in 1992, but communications between us was never easy.

Despite our best efforts, our interactions were all too brief and much too infrequent to go beyond the superficial. Still these rare moments in your presence in my early years have become reference points in my life.

I recall with particular pleasure the moment when I learned, that although you were my Aunt Sis (as indeed you were and have always been to countless others) you were more than that to me. Imagine this…I am eight or nine years old…I am sitting on the counter of your shop, a cream soda in my hand… the bottle of cream soda has a rubber nipple on the spout. I suck occasionally from the nipple. A customer enters the shop and asks.: “Aunt Sis, who dat lickle bway deh?” “Is mi son nuh,” you reply.

It is difficult to express the elation that I felt at the realization that the beautiful creature that popped into my life periodically bringing a box of escovieched fish to my residence in Kingston, was really my mother. Moreover cream soda and escovieched fish were more than ample replacements for mother’s milk.

The shadows of those all too rare encounters with you will remain in that sometimes uncertain repository that we call ‘memory’. In time these shadows will be transformed as you are now. And in their transformations, memories will multiply and reappear as the smiles on the faces of my grandchildren, your great grandchildren.

For me it is sufficient that you were beautiful and that you were my mother. I am also immensely proud of who you became and how you lived your life after the troubling years.

And what of the relationship between us that might have been? That of course can wait… can wait until, upon some other star, we undertake a dialogue to explain the inexplicable, to fathom the unfathomable…can wait until once again life is fresh and clean, and love again is possible.

Your Son, Garry

 

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 Two Photo Galleries of the Fabulous, Enigmatic Aunt Sissy

of Old Harbour Bay, Jamaica, and her Tribe:

Gallery # 1, Old Harbour Bay, Jamaica

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Click on arrow on photo to start carousel

Auntie in Canada

Gallery #2 Aunt Sis Visits British Columbia and Alberta Canada, May 1992

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10 thoughts on “Caribbean Routes: Part 2, Old Harbour Bay, Jamaica

  1. Pingback: The Genealogy File-A Brief Afterlife in Cyberspace | CaribbeanRoots.ca

  2. Oh my! It was such a pleasure finding these pictures and beautiful write up on Aunt Sissy. I was feeling homesick, and decided to look up pictures of Old Harbour Bay, and saw one of Aunt Sissy, which I clicked on and was taken to this page. I am a cousin of Ashie’s wife, Brenda. I live in the U.S. now, but will be moving to B.C. in a few years. My husband is from there (Shawnigan Lake). We were just there visiting two months ago. It was so thrilling seeing pics of my cousins and Clint, as well as Aunt Sissy. She was a sweet woman. It was also nice seeing pictures of B.C. and Alberta. I have been to both places and they are truly breathtaking. Thanks for sharing. I will try to forward these pictures to Camille. I pray that all is well with you.

    • Hello Krishna,
      I am happy that you found the articles on Aunt Sissy, my mother. She visited us about 20 years ago and we took her around Alberta and BC. I am her son Garry, Ashie’s half-brother. I am 75 years old, 20 years older than Ashie. I have lived in Canada for 60 years.

      We now live on Vancouver Island in Ladysmith, about 30 miles from Shawnigan Lake. If/when you come back to Shawnigan Lake give us a call. You can reach me through this blog site any time.

      • It was definitely a pleasure finding your article and website. I have heard Camille talk about her Uncle Garry, but I don’t think I ever met you.

        I was born in Old Harbour Bay, and lived there until 1995, when my mother and I, as well as some other relatives, migrated to Miami to live with my grandmother. Like you, I was transplanted as a teenager. I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had to make a better life in the U.S., and soon in Canada. I met my husband six years ago in Miami. He was living in Mississauga, ON at the time, and was visiting his parents, who now live in Miami. We stayed in contact via email and phone and our relationship soon grew past a regular friendship. He proposed some months later when he visited again. A few months later, I moved up there to be with him, and we got married. We moved back to Miami, but only for a short time, as my husband joined the U.S. military. We have lived in three states since. He will complete his enlistment in a little over a year, and we plan to move back to Vancouver Island shortly after.

        We have been there twice since we have been together, and we both agree that it is paradise. His grandmother still lives there, in Sydney. She just turned 90, and is doing great! He has very fond memories of growing up on the island, and we feel that it is the ideal place to raise out three young daughters. We will definitely contact you when we move back over there. We would love to visit you and your wife some time.

        I see that you have written a book. I love how your story is illustrated on the cover. I will be ordering the book, and looking forward to reading your story.

  3. It was a pleasure meeting you online also. We look forward to meeting you all when we return to the island as well.

    Thanks for the link to the article. I will read it when I get a moment. Thanks also for offering to send us your book. I will send you an email with our address. Your email address is ggirvan@caribbeanroots.ca, correct?

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