Celebrating our heads of state
When we think of the term “head of state”, visions of authority, royalty and grace come to mind.
In each of our families we have a head of state. Whether it be the patriarch or the matriarch, there is always someone who has guided, protected and shaped their respective families as the heads of state.
Both sides of our family have been blessed to have two “heads of state” who celebrated their birthdays this week. Please allow me a moment to pay tribute to them.
Millicent Brown (née Famous), celebrated her 96th birthday on Monday. Born to parents Charles and Catherine Famous (née Charles), both of St Kitts, She has spent the majority of her life living in Friswells Hill and in Devonshire.
In the early 1940s, after her mother passed suddenly, with she had to take up the mantel of raising her younger brothers and sisters at the family homestead on Friswells Hill. For decades she instilled the values of family togetherness, thrift, political activism and home-cooked meals in not just her siblings but their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Added to that, she has dutifully served as the family historian, letting us all know who we are related to and the connections — sometimes multilayered connections.
Because of her sacrifice for family, we are about as close-knit as any family can be. Almost any excuse we have to have a gathering, we find it. Every year on her birthday, we all find ourselves at her home, and those living abroad call in via Zoom to give her flowers while she can still smell them.
We love you, Big Nana
In the Dutch Caribbean, the term “Oma” is given to one who is a grandmother or big Mama.
Pearl Agatha Woodley-Glover was born 90 years ago on November 6 on the small Dutch-Caribbean island of St Eustatius to Kittitian parents.
Like Millicent Brown, she, too, had to fill in as mother to her brothers, Albert and Samuel. Upon beginning a union with my grandfather in the early 1950s, she became the mother of a blended family of 15 children spread around the Caribbean.
For more than 70 years, each of those children, their children and grandchildren felt her maternal love, dedication, instruction and, yes, discipline when needed.
Rising each morning to ensure my grandfather's breakfast was prepared, then turning to start a daily feast to feed the masses of mouths, both under her roof and in the community. Whether it be stewed chicken, fried fish or fresh bread baked in her stone oven, scores of persons would never be starved of food or love.
This past weekend people flew to St Eustatius from the Netherlands, America and other islands in order to spend her 90th birthday weekend with her at church and at a special event at the Lions club.
By all accounts she was surprised and overjoyed at both her family coming home for her birthday and the events put on in her honour.
Only themselves and God above knows how many times they gave their all for our betterment. Yet they never once gave up on any one of us. For that, we consider ourselves blessed to have these ladies who dedicated their lives to our care and upbringing. There is no price that could be put on the value of their sacrifice and love.
Through their life’s work, we know the true meaning of family values and family togetherness.
Indeed they are our heads of state. They are our queens.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org