To My Moms … Eileen

The celebration of Mothers’ Day brings a focus on mothers.  In Jamaica, and indeed in the Caribbean, mother has a special significance being often the only constant and consistent parental figure in a child’s life.  Accordingly, Mothers’ Day is a big celebration when mothers are honored and saluted for the role they play in the family and the wider community.

Mother and Daughter

“Loving”, “caring”, “nurturing”, “sacrificial “, “selfless”– are terms we associate with “mother”.  You will hear it being said of a person who is obstinate and difficult and generally of unpleasant disposition -“only his mother can love him”. This is a reaffirmation of the unconditional love expected of a mother.

These maternal characteristics are not peculiar to the woman who gave birth to a child, but also demonstrated by other persons who assume the responsibility for the care and upbringing of children, whether formally or informally, in some cases voluntarily and in others coincidentally.  It is a common feature of Jamaican society for children to be raised by “granny” or “auntie” or other female relative or friend, and in rare cases a male.  Thus “mother” is defined more in terms of relationship than biological ties or even gender.  A celebration of the Jamaican mother must recognize this wider concept to be truly representative.

Granny – Miss Terry

From my own experience I have been blessed to have had the love and support of not only my biological mother but also some other wonderful women who were “mother figures” at critical junctures of my life’s journey.  In great part I owe what I am today (the good bits that is) and what I have achieved to them.

My mother, Louise, has been a supportive and stabilizing force throughout my life.  Though not physically present continuously, her influence, and I think her good genes if not her beauty, are   evident.  Friends and family members remark how much my expressions and gestures remind them of her, and as I move into the senior years I hear her voice in my laughter. I do miss her sense of humor and think how much she would enjoy my dog, Zorro.

Aunt Ives and Eileen

My Grandmother, “Granny” “Miss Terry”, was for all practical purposes my mother as she raised me from age 5 years.  She inculcated in me the good old fashioned values and the love of God above all else.  Although she believed in not sparing the rod for fear of spoiling the child, she was loving and kind and made me feel I was the best at everything.  She had an appropriate saying for every situation and her vocabulary was more expansive than the Oxford dictionary! Indeed, some of her expressions were unique and I would impress my friends with granny quotations.  Hardly a day passes that I don’t recall her with fondness. 

Then there is Aunt Ives who was married to my Uncle Reg and who took on the role of mother and confidante in my late teens and young adulthood.  She was loving and kind and imbued in me a sense of style and good graces and taught me the art of entertaining.  We enjoyed a good relationship which led some people to believe we were biologically related.

Aunt Ina

I was well into adulthood when I met Aunt Ina, my ”England mother” while I was pursuing post graduate studies at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.  I was introduced to her and her family by a friend to whom she was related.  We developed a special relationship.  We worshipped together and would have a tipple to celebrate occasions.  She not only fed me and gave me a home when I needed one but wholly treated me as a daughter. The family connection and friendship continue today even after her passing.

The above is just a brief mention of the impact and contribution of the amazing women who have mothered me.  There are other women who have played a maternal role along the way and whose mentoring and love and support have smoothed life’s pathway – I speak of the mothers of friends, my former boss, Miss Min and Mama Keizs. I think of them all with respect and affection, particularly at this time of year when we celebrate mothers. To my mind the best tribute to them is to emulate the good characteristics exemplified by them in my own relationships with children.   

Eileen and Zoro

I have not given birth myself, but I have been blessed with many children in the form of nieces; nephews; godchildren; the children of friends; my young colleagues and not to be left out, my pet, Zorro.  I thank God for the opportunity afforded me to practice what I learnt from my mothers and pray that the legacy will continue through those whose lives have been touched. 

By Eileen R Boxill CD,QC,Ph.D

Eileen is a former Consultant/Advisor to the Jamaican Ministry of Justice, and retired Director of Legal Reform at that Ministry. She was awarded a national honour – Order of Distinction, Commander Class (CD) and appointed a Queen’s Counsel (QC). 

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10 Responses

  1. Thé sentiments expressed by Eileen are universal and transcend generations as it is our mothers who nurture and imbue our « humaness »- kindness, love without asking for it in return, faithfulness, forgiveness inspite of , truth telling and comradeship. The thoughts are insightful as well as inspiring and behoove one to join the celebration of mothers everywhere. At this time, we all should ensure our mothers are healthy – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially. Indeed, it is through the latter, that she will gain greater empowerment to deal with the travesties in her life. I salute you Eileen and also all mothers as we move as an organization to celebrate Women’s Health Week beginning 10th May.
    I also salute all the children who love their mother!

  2. Congratulations on this well-written article! It is so personal and shares so many heartwarming sentiments and messages. Eileen certainly benefitted from many different capable Mothers, as she acknowledged, who are all responsible for the articulate professional public servant and outstanding hostess who is known for her great hospitality and benevolence.
    We look forward to more such articles Hope.

  3. Absolutely touching… Profound tribute of Love and Appreciation ….to all the Mothers who helped to shape her life… solid impact that resulted in a Lady of Worth who continues to positively touch lives … Pet Zoro included of course. Congratulations.

  4. I am so proud of you, my other mummy/ Auntie Eileen! The women who molded you, spoke into your spirit so you could speak into my life, my children’s lives and all the others who know and love you. Happy Mother’s Day!!

  5. The wisdom and graciousness of Eileen’s mothers have been powerfully captured in this article. These characteristics have been reflected throughout her life and impacted others. Absolutely outstanding. Congratulations!!

  6. The wisdom and graciousness of Eileen’s mothers have been powerfully captured in this article. She has reflected these characteristics throughout her life and impacted others. Absolutely outstanding! Congratulations!

  7. Absolutely brilliant article. As the saying goes it takes a village to raise a child. And indeed Eileen has certainly benefitted from this. She has also not forgotten all the mother’s who impacted her life in one way or another and has written a glowing tribute for each one.
    I am honored to know Eileen who has also impacted the life of my son. Such a beautiful person.

  8. Eileen, thanks for sharing with us. Even though I’ve known you since pre-teen years, there is a lot of details I did not know. What I have always known however, is that there was a solid foundation which could only be attributed to strong, kind, loving, God-fearing folks. Your wonderful achievements, humility and incredible sense of humor are testament to the integrity of these beautiful women who gave birth to you and mothered you. You are blessed. Thank God for Mothers (and Fathers).

  9. Mothers indeed are the most precious of any calling. We all have been mothered. Many of us are mothers and what a privilege, even when it has been a challenge at times. Salute all the mothers every day.
    Congratulations Eileen

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