Thank you Esmay for over 100 years of service; may you rest in peace.
It takes strong leaders to pave the way and be examples of strength and character. For me, my 103-year-old grandmother Esmay Devonish was chief among these. ‘Ma’ as she was affectionately known was born on the Caribbean Island of Barbados in 1915 The eldest of three siblings born to, a local preacher and the daughter of a slave whose mother had been a white house servant on the plantation .
She played many roles in her long life: daughter, sister, wife, mother aunt, and the fabric that held our family together.. Ma was a strong woman; fourteen pregnancies nine of which resulted in children that lived to adulthood. Her life was spent largely if not totally in service to others. First to her parents and then to her husband, her children, her grandchildren and to neighbours in need of her abundant good will and not least to the land that provided the goods by which she sustained us all. Ma was first and foremost a business woman, organized and practical in that old school do it yourself kind of way that you find in rural communities. Some of my fondest memories are of the sweet aromas that would fill the house when she was baking or cooking. All the ingredients for her dishes, both sweet and savoury came from her farm. Ma was known for the high quality of her sugarcane crop; she raised chickens to sell their eggs and livestock for the slaughterhouse. Her property was a treasure trove of fruit trees: guava, pears, sugar apples, soursop, bananas, cherries, golden apples, cantaloupe and limes, just to name a few. The ground provisions were also plentiful. Everything was for sale or barter and people came from all over the island to purchase her goods. The success of her business was clearly visible; her home being the first in her district to have running water, indoor toilet, electricity, phone and television. I remember the days when our neighbours would join us to watch Kojak, Westerns, Sesame Street and Electric Company or a boxing match. Ma was also a doctor of holistic medicine and was organic before organic was a thing.
As a believer in God Esmay knew how to tap into her faith get her over many walls in her life. She would always say God does not give you more than you can bare, he will never leave you or forsake you and this is the day that the Lord has made so be glad and rejoice in it.
Mother represents the following to all of us:
- The mother of a nation
- The spirit of God manifested in the flesh