Rose’s open home, open heart
Rose James lived beside St David’s Lighthouse, but at times it felt like her home was the actual beacon.
Children were drawn to her; it wasn’t unusual to hear an unexpected knock on the door.
“In my house, there was always someone’s child who had left home or who was hungry or just wanted to get away for a little while,” the 75-year-old said.
She remembered one girl in particular, a friend of her three daughters, who lingered although the 6pm bus, the last one headed west that night, was about to leave.
“Then the news came on the TV and I happened to see her picture,” Ms James said. “I said, ‘This is you. What are you doing on the news?’”
The girl was a runaway. Ms James called the police who asked her to keep the girl for the weekend. “I think they sent her away to a reform school,” she said.
Years later she’s often stopped in the street by many of the children she helped.
Most recently, she was greeted in Union Square with a hug and a kiss by a current member of Parliament.
“He said, ‘I just want to thank you for allowing me to come into your house, eat your food, sleep in your house and run up and down with your children.’ He said, ‘I just want to thank you’.
“I think of him often and appreciate that he was one that remembered me. Many children came for various reasons. I never turned anyone away.”
Even today she loves to cook. People often pop by for a bite over the holidays.
“Last month, I had a Thanksgiving dinner and had over 30 people,” she said. “Some people I didn’t know. They just came and everyone ate and enjoyed. I like that.”
Ms James spent 37 years in St David’s where she raised her five children — George, Stanley, Angela, Lisa and Gina.
At the time she and her husband divorced, they were all between the ages of 6 and 15.
“I did initially wonder what I would do with them on my own, but I had a very supportive family and they helped me.
“It wasn’t an easy struggle, but with God you can do all things. I never worked during my marriage.
“After my divorce, I went to work at Holiday Inn as a switchboard operator. From there, I went to work at Dorchester Realty as a receptionist.”
Various jobs followed. More recently she’s taken care of senior citizens, but health challenges forced her to give that up a year ago.
Her working years ensured that her children were “well cared for”.
“My challenges were raising the children and hoping they would turn out right,” she said. “I did everything to encourage them to live a productive life but you can’t live your children’s lives for them.
“You can only lead, guide and direct them. Along the way some of them made choices that weren’t the best; you have to be there for them regardless and continue to encourage them.
“It wasn’t an easy task. It was a struggle. But with God’s help, I managed to raise them until they were accountable for themselves.”
She is particularly proud of Stanley. “I’m proud and blessed to have a son who has achieved so much — as a doctor, preacher, teacher and motivational speaker and owner and director of Premier Health & Wellness,” she said.
The accomplishments of his siblings also gives her joy. She admits to really pushing them all to achieve, when they were young. “My daughter Lisa was in England for a while, she did psychology. She is now looking for a job in her field. Angela does caregiving. My son George does a lot of maintenance.
“My daughter Gina lives in North Carolina and does nursing. I am happy with my family.
“They may have thought I was a drill sergeant, but I loved and meant well for them.”
Ms James grew up on Parson’s Road in Devonshire and dreamt of going to the Berkeley Institute, but her parents, Ismay and Archie Simons, couldn’t afford the fees.
She instead studied at Jack’s Commercial School on Union Street before enrolling at the Adult Education School.
“It suited me better,” she said.
Faith has always been an important part of her life.
As a young woman she would spend her Sundays in church, attending various services from 6am until 8.30pm. While at Holiday Inn, a colleague introduced her to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“I joined them 39 years ago along with my children,” said Ms James, who now lives in Warwick. “I raised them in the church. That is where I attend now. I am happy there. I am a member of the St George’s church. Occasionally, I go to the Hamilton church because it is nearer for my travelling.
“I enjoyed it. I am happy I made that decision for the sake of my children.”
She’s thrilled to have 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. “My family has grown from five to a great big number,” she said. “Looking back over my life, I am proud of my achievements raising my family by myself. I am proud of my children.”
Her advice to single mothers who may be struggling is that “all things are possible with God”.
“It is not easy,” she said. “But if you put your faith and trust in God, he will see you through every situation. “He promised never to leave you, nor forsake you, no matter what your struggle is. I would like to think that, after reading this story, someone can have hope and believe in themselves.”
• Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Tuesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or email@example.com with their full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them
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