ADINA McKENZIE (82), better known as DYAH of Old Montrose formerly of Troumaca, died on Thursday December 3, 2015. The funeral took place on Monday December 14, at the Kingstown Church of Christ meeting place. Viewing was from 2PM and the service began at 3:00PM. Burial was at the Kingstown Cemetery. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.
Eulogy of Adina McKenzie
By Tivia Mckenzie
On behalf of the Mc Kenzie family, I would like to thank you for coming today to share in our sorrow, but also to share in our joy as we celebrate the life of Mrs. Adina Mc Kenzie.
I am honoured to have the opportunity to share with you a few of my personal memories and reflections about my grandmother. When I sat down to write this speech, there were so many beautiful things that I wanted to say about her that I did not know where to begin. This is, by far, the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Nevertheless, I shall proceed.
Mrs. Adina Mc Kenzie, affectionately known as Dy-yah or Ma, was born on December 14th, 1932, and would have celebrated her 83rd birthday today. However, she was a mother to seven (7) children: Monica, Magdalene, Jenny, Samuel, Charlene, Marvin, and Virginia.
Ma grew up in Troumaca with her mother, Ema Mac-Mahon, and her other siblings until she was eight years old. Then, she, her mother and her only sister moved to New Town village in Old Montrose. Her mother died while she was still a minor, so she went to live with an aunt, who was popularly known as “Aunt Tangy,” directly opposite the Starlift Steel Orchestra compound. She lived with her aunt until she was able to take care of herself. During the time she lived on her own, she met and married her late husband, Alston Mc Kenzie. Afterwards, they, then, settled and began a family in Old Montrose, Back Road.
Ma always had a job during her formative years. She worked as a janitor in the public service sector for some years until she retired at age 55. She often recalled how much she enjoyed her stint as a worker at the Botanical Gardens and as a road side worker. Even after retirement, she still found minor jobs with neighbours in the area until she developed arthritis and could no longer used her hands and feet as she wished.
Most of you would know that Ma was deaf. Ma had lost her hearing in the early 90’s, owing to a bad cold. The memories that resonate as a result of her deafness will remain with us forever. Notably, when my cousins and I were younger, we always feared whenever she discovered that we had done something wrong because she used to rebuke us on the top of her voice. This meant that the entire village, especially those who lived closest to us, heard her lamentations and either jeered or teased us about what they would have heard when we passed their way. Therefore, as long as she shouted her signature statement: “Lord Jesus Christ, what is this? What is this at all on my cross here today?” We knew that the world loudest rebuke was about to take its course. Consequently, in an attempt to prevent the neighbours from hearing what she was about to say, we would immediately plead, softly and profusely, “Yuh talking too loud. De neighbors guh hear,” and she would always reply, “Ah wan dem hear cuz alyuh too harden.” And with that, I, for one, did not go outside until I suspected that her rebuke had, somewhat, been forgotten by the neighbours, who certainly did not forget. Similarly, one always knew when she was finished cooking because she used to knock the big pot spoon very loudly on the end of the pot to clear whatever food had been stuck on it. I remember us individually asking her on different occasions if she had to do that everytime she finished cooking and she always laughed or smiled. You could imagine how uneasy this made us feel, as children, since we hated the fact that the village had to know when we were about to eat. Even the untied animals we had at the time knew when she was finished cooking since they never ceased to come running, at the sound of her knocking, and congregated outside of the kitchen door for their share.
Ma used to sing to herself even though she was deaf. As a child, I remember how surprised I was the first time I heard her singing. I guess I was amazed because I did not know my grandmother before she lost her hearing. That being the case, we used to draw closer to where she was seated and listened until she saw us and stopped singing. Whenever she saw how amazed we were, she would tell us that they were songs that she used to sing when she was younger. As the years went by, her singing changed from songs to quiet and pensive hums.
Although she was deaf, she was an excellent communicator. We learnt how to communicate with her via lip reading: a skill most of our family members have developed over the years. She always wanted to be the first to share current events, and, sometimes, even when she had a small part of her news mixed up and we attempted to correct her, she used to say, “luk nah? You telling me? I telling you how it go. Yuh tink I don’t know wey happen?!”… and with that, we let her account reign. Dan always jokingly exclaimed, “For a woman who can’t hear at all, it’s surprising that she always knew the latest before everyone else.” We will surely miss that aspect of her personality.
Ma loved cricket. She never ceased to recount her days as a young cricketer on a local female cricket team. She used to tell us about the many games she played and the many balls she had lost while playing cricket at what is, now, called Victoria Park. I remember how captivated she was whenever there was a cricket match on TV regardless of the teams playing. She always supported the West Indies cricket team, especially when Brian Lara, Courtney Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Jimmy Adams and others were a part of the team, but always got upset when they were not performing as she wished. She nicknamed all of them. Most of the nicknames that she had given them are difficult to remember. However, I remember that she used to call Courtney Ambrose Bragga and Langy because of his height and the manner in which he behaved when the West Indies team was winning.
Ma was very nurturing. We did not have electricity when we lived with both our grandparents and it never bothered us, since, in those days, we were too caught up in playing yard games with our cousins or neighbours until it was time to sleep. On rainy nights, under the glaze of a lit kerosene lamp or a burning candle, Ma used to share countless superstitious and Anancy stories with us. At the end of those stories, no one dared to go to their rooms so we all huddled closely together on her bed until the break of dawn. Likewise, I remember the many times we accompanied her to the river to wash. At that time, the river was not what it is today. She hated the idea of anyone coming to just sit and talk, so if you were going with her, you had to bring something to wash because she hated idleness with a passion. As a result, every one of us learnt how to wash and bleach our clothes on a river stone.
There was nothing Ma could not have cooked. As a child, we often saw her preparing most of our local dishes and snacks, especially on Saturdays. Among the many dishes, she used to prepare local meals such as doucana, corn fish, arrow root porridge, boilean, Bam Bam, farine, and doughboy. She even made chocolate bars for tea from scratch. When we became adults, we often inquired about her recipes and the seasonings for certain meals. As adults, our conversations are often filled with discussions on how closely one of our meals tasted like hers and what we can do to bring them to her standard. Yet, today, her meals remain unmatched.
Ma was very protective of her loved ones regardless of their dispositions. This is probably one of the most dominant memories I have of her. I have heard and even witnessed several accounts, as a child, when Ma waited for someone or visited someone’s home to confront them about a complain one of us made to her. She did so with a stern tone, a warning, a loud voice and without fear.
Ma was very industrious and virtuous. She took care all of her grandchildren at some point in their lives. She worked hard to ensure that they had their required school supplies and were always well-fed. She was the first to be up on morning to make breakfast and prepare us for school. In fact, she always tried to ensure that our dinner was ready by the time school was over; for some reason, she never cooked at nights. Even after she had retired, she often found little jobs to earn extra money. As she got older and was unable to use her hands and feets as she pleased, she often expressed what she would have been doing if she had better health.
Ma encouraged us to attend church even when we had become adults. In fact, she raised all of her children to attend Sunday school on a regular basis. When she saw us loitering around the house on Sunday mornings, she used to say,” Alyuh come put on alyuh clothes and come go church.” When we got a little older and it appeared to her that we were no longer attending, she used to threaten to visit the pastor to tell him about it. When I became an adult, she still inquired from time to time about my attendance status.
Ma loved to share with others. When her late husband brought sacks of ground provision from the mountain, he either shared it by himself or gave it to her to share with clear instructions. When he turned his back, Ma used to include persons he sternly told her not to give, even if it meant sharing her portion. This continued even after she got sick and could not do much for herself. She never visited anyone without bringing them something of her own. She offered anyone who visited her something to eat, no matter how small it was: a habit that later worked for and against her in her ailing moments.
Last and certainly not the least, Ma was a content woman. I have never seen nor heard her repeat anything which suggested that she was a covetous or a jealous person. She accepted her position in life and was satisfied with whatever she had. When she had little, she used to say that people do not have to know what you have. She used to also tell us that we must always be content and do not look at what other people had. Introspect, God took whatever she had and turned it into enough to feed much. I will never forget how her few pounds of flour were often transferred into a tub of fresh bakes. Ma made simplicity desirable!
I will forever remember how strong, content, resilient and hardworking she was. She was not perfect, but she did the best that she knew to survive for herself and her family. I have so many lessons and memories to tell my off springs about my grandmother: the laughers and the corrections which contributed to the woman I am today. It was her unique and humble placement in life that God chose to teach us about His love and His character. He saw the pains she was in and quieted them until the day of His second coming.
Ma will be greatly missed