Monday, 26 December 2011


I'm not a fan of Country & Western music, but for some inexplicable reason, I woke up this morning singing Buffy Sainte-Marie's 1970's song "Gonna be a country girl again".  As a youngster, growing up in inner-city urban London, my mother used to sing along to this song and reminisce about her early years growing up on her parents' farm. She was particularly fond of the lyrics "with an old brown dog and a big front porch and rabbits in a pen"...and now, many decades later, after much hard work and many struggles, both financially and physically (she has had The Last Rites administered on no less than three occasions, during three different severe illnesses), here she sits on her front porch with her old brown dog, surveying her plot, which she shares with my father, her husband of 59 years; back on the land that belonged to our paternal grandparents, in the country where she was born in 1929. Their house occupies a spot just a few hundred yards away from my father's first home that he came to from hospital as a sickly new-born who was not expected to live long, back in 1927 (and from the same hospital where his own father had recently died of "fever", complicated by pneumonia - though I learnt today that they managed to share 14 days between Dad's birth and Grandpa's death and it was during that time that Grandpa chose the name Louis-Joseph for the new son that he would not live to see grow up).

For me, the line that strikes a cord from that song is "all the lights on Broadway don't amount to an acre of green". There were times when all I wanted was to see the "bright lights" and be part of the frenetic hub-bub, and now, here I am, also on part of my paternal grandparent's land, with my own front porch and two black dogs, basking in the veritable peace and tranquility of my surroundings.

Perhaps, there is something deep inside us that carries the "code" of what we are, what we will become and what makes us WHO we really are.   It's like a "Road to Damascus" moment when you reach that realisation, having spent decades in pursuit of happiness and achievement, and suddenly feel that you are finally "home".  I know that my parents view this as their final chapter; having come full circle, they have reached the end as new people with incredibly rich memories, filled with stories and experiences, in the US, UK and Caribbean and very different to the young married couple who left the islands to make the long Trans-Atlantic crossing at the invitation of the "Mother Country", England, in days long before St Lucian Independence.   I feel sure, however, (well, as sure as any of us can be about these things), that whilst the serenity I have long sought is here now, it doesn't mean that this is necessarily my final chapter and believe there are more adventures out there waiting to be had, but as St Lucians like to say, all is good.....FOR NOW. 

As I approach the end of my first year in my new home, it's great to reflect and acknowledge just how much has been achieved in a relatively short period.  Taking just one step at a time, I am living mindfully, savouring all things and every moment. This single behavioural change has brought an immense sense of peace - I have ceased to dwell on what has BEEN, and rarely, if ever, worry about what is to COME.  In so doing, one's mind is totally free to enjoy the "here and now".   So, as we complete our Christmas celebrations and look ahead to 2012, my hope is that many others (known and unknown to me) can come to find the same sense of balance and serenity that I have found in 2011.   

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;

Excerpt from "Little Gidding" by T S Elliot


  1. Love it, Vonnie - wonderful words x

  2. Beautifully written... and obviously heartfelt (which makes it beautiful!). I share many of your sentiments. My roots run deep where I live also... dating back to the early 1800s... with generations of dozens of relatives in their resting spots within 3 miles of my home. I'm very connected to central Pennsylvania.

  3. Thank you Chili - I guess the word "roots" is the perfect term in that they keep us grounded and connected. We too have many relatives here but as a nation still in it's infancy, we hail from far and wide. My maternal grandparents and great-grandparents made the huge journey from India, brought by the British from the Raj, as indentured labour arriving in the mid 1800s. My paternal grandparents are a melange of French and other European & mixed African slave decendants. Beyond that we know very litte.

  4. There's another similarity to our lives... we know our ancestory! Most of my ancestors are from Ireland, Germany, or Austria. "Wust" is the German name.