Friday, November 14, 2008

Jamaican Culture

Granny's Irish Legacy: Wills 'N' Such
By Margaret Bailey

Published Oct 1, 2008

It is true what they say, the Irish tend to respect a good wake and they always remember their dearly departed.

For as long as I can recall, everyday that the sun shone on earth, my Granny talked about her parents. Eventhough many years had passed, Granny was still sad and lonesome about her parents dying. Bertha Angelina and Georgie, which became affectionately known to me as Great Granny Bertha and Poppa Georgie were the light of my Granny‘s life.

Although I never knew my Great Grand Parents, after hearing many stories and viewing tons of pictures, I have been able to fill in the blank pages of history.

Granny and I would stroll in her garden as she would try to recount the accurate details of life with her mother and father. Ms. Bertha was always the Lady of the manor, while Sir Georgie spent his days with his four brothers negotiating on how to build a small metropolis within a country community. The way Granny talked about Poppa Georgie, I always got this picture of my Great-Grandfather as this very Irish man, with a ruddy complexion and pale white hair, He seemed to be a good negotiator and he liked to gad around town with his brothers, working hard, but also having a good time. Poppie Georgie never made a move without his brothers being by his side.

My Grandmother prided herself on being a Mama’s girl, but she loved the fact that her father was dedicated to his children and their future. He wanted his girls to marry well, he gave them all the resources and exposure to the refined culture they needed, in order to accomplish the task of having a good life.

Therefore, it was quite a painful experience for her and them when she married outside of their caste system, thus severing sentimental ties with them.

After my Grandmother married, the relationship with her parents became quite strained. They kept in touch, and on occasion my Great Granny Bertha would visit, but their relationship was lacking the closeness of her childhood.

When her mother became stricken with leukemia, Granny became very withdrawn and upset, it was as if her connection to the Old world was slowly diminishing. Her father was getting old, his health was failing and her mother’s life was dwindling away.

Granny found a new reality in the demise of her parents. Her entire life she never became absorbed in the lifestyle that her parents had created for her and her siblings. Granny V married at an early age, and left all the comforts and luxuries of home behind, yet, I think she felt secure knowing that they were always around. Although they were not happy with her choice of a life partner, as the old saying goes, “The Irish always take care of their own”. So, Granny felt secure having them around despite the lack of unconditional love.

Once my Granny’s parents had died, she mourned their loss and never once thought about her inheritance. She had been so focused on her religious life and raising her own children that she never gave much thought to the mini-empire my Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother had left behind.

There were schools, churches, gas stations, houses and acres of land that should have been divided among their six children. However, since my Grandmother did not express an interest in the division of the assets , the boys took the reign and controlled all their holdings.

My Grandmother’s two sisters had married well, and as the youngest, I don’t think Granny ever gave much thought to Financial matters. Her parents took care of her, she married a man that made her want for nothing, in Granny’s mind that was all one could ask for.

As Granny got older and she continued to miss and mourn her parents daily, it began to gnaw at her, that her parents had not left her anything to memorialize her heritage and the life they shared.

Her mother had made sure to give her pieces of jewelry from her estate on her visits to Kingston, she wanted her youngest to have possessions to remind her of their mother-daughter relationship.

Granny was never a materialistic person, however, I gathered that after all the years that passed, it bothered her, that she was not remembered by her parents in their Will. It was as if she was being punished for marrying against their desires. My Grandmother was forced to choose between her heart and her legacy.

This life experience made Granny determined that none of her children or grandchildren would ever get excommunicated from their Birthright. Granny taught us to fight for what is rightfully ours, “Never take more or less! Get what you know you rightfully deserve!”

I always admired the fact that my Granny loved and idolized her parents till the day she died, despite their unforgiving stance with her, but there was a lesson to be learned from her stories.

Whether it is your parents, a brother, a sister or husband, people will only give you, what they think you deserve. If you are passive, they will look the other way and try to take your share and theirs, or worse, give it to a stranger who cannot appreciate the legacy and heritage..

Sometimes when a family member dies, the last thing that is on anyone’s mind is an inheritance. Partly because of grief, and partly because you have been living your life without the reality of its existence.

The legacy that my Granny left me, was to always fight for my Birthright and never let anyone try to “samfy” me from what is rightfully mine!

Granny always said, "Take what is yours graciously and save it for a rainy day."

Hence the term, “The Fighting Irish”.


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