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Elegy-To My Mother on Her Passing
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
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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Auntie in Canada
Gallery #2 Aunt Sis Visits British Columbia and Alberta Canada, May 1992