May 12, 2017

Thank you, Mama Esalyn Mason Richards

by Patmos Richards

Apart from a devoted Christian life, my mother was also a remarkable single parent. She brought up two sons, Pedro and Patmos, in the absence of the father who emigrated to Trinidad in 1963.

It wasn’t easy going for her, but she braved life’s storms courageously, overcoming any obstacle in her way, as she smiled at challenges with Christian fortitude.

“Pat and Pedro”, she would call us from the old wooden kitchen outside, “com fo’ al yo’ tea”. Usually, while having breakfast or lunch, she would relate Bible stories to us and pointed out their relevance to us when we grow up to be men.

My mother, who was originally from the rural village of Rose Hall on the leeward side, would regale us with stories about stories about her strong and valuable parental upbringing, her happy school days and unity which existed amongst villagers in Rose Hall.

Mama, as we called her, taught us the Our Father’s Prayer at the age of four and five years respectively – we related it with gusto before we retired to bed at nights.

Mama once asked us: “If wen al yo com man, me an al yo’ wife in the sea and two of us are drowning, which one al yo’ go save?” In my eagerness to prove my loyalty to her for her parental love, I answered, “Mama, I go save you.”

With a beautiful laugh, she looked at us, patting my reticent sibling and quoted a verse in the Bible, which says: “For thus cause shall a man leave Mother and Father and cleave to his wife”. I was dumbfounded and she saw the expression on my face. My mother explained that she was only responsible for us at that tender age of our lives, but when we attain manhood we are under no obligation to look out for and take care of her.

In retrospect, I am eternally grateful to my dear mother, who passed away on June 2, 1989, for instilling In us Christian values, a good academic education and unconditional love and attention, which I still yearn for in my adult life.