August 8, 2014
Tribute to Irma Agatha Norris

Fri, Aug 08, 2014

Dr A Cecil Cyrus

I got to know Sammy (Samuel) and Irma Norris and their young family after my return home in 1963, not only because they were literally my father’s closest neighbours, but, more so, because they were among his dearest friends and confidants. Even though I had not met them before, yet I knew about them, because my father used to write to me about their joy whenever I fluked a prize or scholarship at university. And so, on my return home, we chose them to be the godparents of our first child, Helen, in 1964.

As I listened to the encomiums showered on Irma, I felt an inner glow of pride and happiness as if she were of my own flesh and blood. It was, indeed, an education to learn of the totality of the patriot’s contribution to our fledgling nation. Many, if not most of us are endowed with a gift from our Creator, and where feasible, we are expected to use this bounty for the common good. Moreover, as I noted in my booklet, a medley of thoughts: “To some men achievement comes easily, naturally, as they are born with that compulsive propellant that gives them no rest, but forever rushes them on in ceaseless, purposeful activity.” Such a woman was Irma, as so fully detailed in Mr Horne’s eulogy. ‘A social dynamo’, Irma was forever helping to improve the quality of life of others, especially that downtrodden sex, woman. And she did this especially as a mother, teacher, guide, and in the Mothers’ Union, to mention a few.{{more}}

Irma did not work for honour or praise. And, how are we to assess the motive behind all this selflessness; and what were the rewards to Irma? Well, the answer is conveyed in the most compelling of the three basic, ruling, motivating philosophies of my life, as so beautifully and comprehensively enumerated by the Roman philosopher, Seneca: “He that does good to another man, does also good to himself; not only in the consequence, but in the very act of doing it; for the consciousness of well-doing is an ample reward.” And the greatest of philanthropists, Dr Albert Schweitzer, endorses this, as he declares: “By placing myself in the service of that which lives I reach an activity exerted upon the world, which has meaning and purpose.”

Irma and I used to have a great laugh whenever we met, for I always addressed her as St Vincent’s greatest fossil, with myself being the second! About four years ago, at a Girls’ High School Fair, I lifted her from her seat and danced with her. At the end of the dance, I complimented her on still ‘having all her juices’, fossil though she was! Her laughter was like a veritable tonic!

Irma was a gentle, modest, unassuming, angelic lady who spoke in a gentle hush, almost a monotone that portrayed no unhealthy emotions. And I could never conceive of her losing her temper or speaking ill of anyone. Indeed, contact with her always inspired the label of a ‘Child of the Divine’. She had a good innings, but, as in the cricketing world, one would have liked her to make the maiden century!

Farewell, dear Lady, your soul will certainly rest in eternal peace and love, and your physical immortality assured by your offspring and their progeny. As that great poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley mourns, but assures us in the most beautiful poem:


“…..death is a low mist which cannot blot

The brightness it may veil…”