It has been said, that in ancient Rome, Ceasar. Had an attendant, whose sole function, was to walk by his side to remind him, “You are Only Human”, especially during his most triumphant moments.
Well, one of the most beautiful things about growing up with a thoroughly West Indian mother, is that, as a child, and into your teenage years, you had your own Ceasar. As, not only was she there to constantly remind you, that you are only human, she also had a Kill-joy mode, that could rob you of your moments of joy, by constantly reminding you that “Chicken Merry, Hawk Nearby”.
And if this was not enough to remind us of our own mortality, she would inevitably find other subtle colloquialisms designed to do just that, as she was determined to nurture well-adjusted children, who could then matriculate into seamless Adults.
And to make sure, her children remained grounded, there was always the standing refrain: “In the Midst of life, there’s always death”.
So, being so conditioned, sometimes it comes as a surprise when death comes a-calling, especially to a loved one, family or friend, or relatives of a loved one.
Maybe, it is because, whilst we live with the knowledge of our own mortality, we live in expectation, hope really, that death will pass us, and or loved ones by, do the rounds, and then collect us, at the very end, instead of interrupting our lives, relationships, families, friendships, and aspirations, with its finality!
And so, in the end, despite its inevitability, death is always an unwelcomed and surprise visitor, when it does come a-calling.
And so it was, that when Enid, Margaritta McGrowder, made her transition, from this life on Sunday, August 11th, 2023, after a long fruitful, industrious and productful life, that saw her ailing in the end, none of her offsprings, her community and or friends, were ready, to let her go physically, let alone emotionally.
But as a famous jurist once opined, when asked how she dealt with tragedies: “We pray and Press One”.
And so it is.
Enid, Margarita McGrowder, was born in Montego Bay, on the 3rd of October, in 1936. A kind girl, she grew into an even kinder woman, mother, and community activist. Having spent her early years in the Resort Town, she grew bored of the artificial nature of life in the tourist mecca and so moved to Kingston, where she settled in the residential community of Richmond Park, residing on Omara Road, where she became “Minid”, to the residents of the Community, particularly, the Children, much to the chagrin of her own children, who at times were peeved by the fact that she always found time and resources to assist the children of the community.
She spent her early life as a Housewife rearing her seven children, and it was during this period, as the community kept turning to her for help, that she decided that she would take-up ‘her-calling’ that she had put aside to become a wife, partner, and mother. And so she worked from home as a seamstress, partially because of the need in the community and because of the need to earn extra income to fund her social work in the community.
Over time, as the demand for her assistance grew, she extended herself to include baking, becoming the Community go-to baker for birthday cakes, weddings, and regular treats for the children of the community.
With her own children grown and leading their own independent lives, Ms. McGrowder, decided to start a new chapter in her life so, she emigrated to Canada, where she lived for over 20 years, but she never broke her ties with the community and the people, as she returned ever so often, always with an extra suitcase or two, loaded with goodies, for the children and families of friends she had left behind in Richmond Park.
After 20-plus years in Canada, and with failing health, Ms. McGrowder, decided to return to her native land, to enjoy her ‘retirement’. And much to the disappointment of her daughter Brenda Palmer, with whom she shared a home in Toronto, she decided to return to Kingston, Jamaica, which she did in April of this year, and settled in with daughter Sandra Palmer, and sons Carl Bliss, and Owen Palmer, sharing care-taking duties, making sure that her every whim and fancy were catered to.
Sadly, after a few scares that landed her in the hospital for observation, Enid Margaritta McGrowder, transitioned peacefully and quietly on Sunday, August 11th, leaving behind a distraught and inconsolable family to mourn her transition.
The service of celebratory thanksgiving for the Life of this family and community pillar was hosted last Saturday morning at the Trinity Moravian Church, on Montgomery Avenue, in Richmond Park, and it was truly, a service of Thanksgiving and then some!
To begin, it really was quite a community farewell, as the community turned out in large numbers, to ‘pay their respect’, Ms Minid. And so loved and respected she was that many adults and youngsters who are now adults, who live abroad, took the time out of their scheduled lives, to return to Jamaica, for her Thanksgiving service, to pay homage to a woman of substance, whose selflessness and dedication, played a transformative role in their lives, and it made for a bittersweet, service.
With Reverend Winston Jones, as the Officiating Minister, and the revered Audley Davidson and Elaine Mitchell, as the officiating musicians, attendees, were treated to what was truly a service that was akin to High-mass, and it all began with the Processional Mambuma, sung by the NDTC singers, as the Urn, carried by son Timmy Givan, led the family into the House of Worship for the last rites. There were musical tributes from members of the NDTC Singers; Pie Jesu – offered by Dahlia-Dawn Fuller-Phillips and Faith Livingstone; the celebrated Soprano Carole Reid, offered Amazing Grace; the ever-so-charming Rhonda Lumsden Lue, transported with her delivery of God And God Alone…
There were scripture readings, with daughter Brenda Palmer, Granddaughter Sophia Palmer, and Joycelyn Gayle, offering a rendition of Ms. Minid’s favourite Psalm, the 23rd; There were other readings and musical tributes. Before son Carl Bliss, celebrated Tenor and long-serving Member of the NDTC, delivered the Eulogy, his take on this was quite charming as following upon his recitation extolling the virtues of a mother he clearly loved, he ended his Eulogy, with a rendition of the song Memories, and closed out the program with a touching rendition of Going Home,
Following the Service, Attendees were invited to join the family and relatives in the Church’s Hall, to share in the repast. And what a fabulous get-together that made!
Dears, it was strictly olde school as the elders of the community came out in force to greet the children and grandchildren, share stories, recall anecdotes, and simply lyme. And with premium libation on hand, it all made for a mutedly fabulous afternoon, with tears aplenty, but all held in check, to be released later, when privacy afforded the family to grieve in private.
But it was indeed an old-time family Funeral, sans the coffin and the attendant drama that usually accompanies such sad occasions.
Walk Good Ma. Minid, Yours was a solid inning, and the fruits of your labour will continue to testify to your contribution!