The year 1935 dawned with expectancy. It ushered the signing of the Franco-Italian Agreement on the world stage, and a couple months later on March 31, right here at home in Canque Village, Biche, Trinidad, a pair of little rays of sunshine lit up the lives of Joseph Anastacio and Louisa Anastacio (nee Ragoo). The baby girl was given the name of Melvina. As is typical in Trinidad, a nickname was lovingly assigned and Melvina promptly became known as Chin.
Sadly, her baby brother did not survive beyond a day, and the twins, naturally, never knew each other until May 6th when they were both introduced in Heaven.
Mum’s father, Joseph Anastacio, was of the First People of Trinidad. Mum was number seven of the 11 children, a family of eight girls and three boys. Their names were Lena, Eugenia, Rosa, Allen Joseph, Octave Whiteman, John, Melvina, Veronica, Eleanora, Mary, and Ruffina. (I won’t go into their nicknames but they had many.)
My aunties and uncles are all special, but I like to think that Mum was extra special because of her place as 7th in the line of siblings. God’s number of wholeness is 7. He created the world then rested on the seventh day. And Mummy was also born on a Sunday. And while her twin brother went to be with Jesus, Mummy was permitted to live a full life. God had a plan for her on earth.
Mum’s life was literally this village. She took her schooling at Biche Roman Catholic School, and in her mid-teen years, met her sweetheart, Conrad Harris. As you may know, Daddy went to be with the Lord in 2014 (and now both are joyously reunited). They spent 64 or 65 years together right here in Biche, during which time they raised a family of 11 children. It seems that 11 was the unique number where Mum was involved!
We, her children, are myself Thomas (nicknamed Patrick) Kenrick (nicknamed Ricket), Avian (called Avi), Maureen, Verna, Daphne, Karen, William (called Willie), Peter, Angela (called Angie), and Frederick (called Freddy).
Many of you here have known Mum–Chin–during your lifetime. She was caring and compassionate to her community. She loved you all, and in turn, your presence here shows your own love and respect for her.
Mum loved the Lord. She was adamant that we all go to church, so each Sunday we would get dressed and walk to church to worship God. In fact, it is in this very church, Biche Roman Catholic Church, that the roots of our faith were planted. It was here that we were introduced to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Mum was family-oriented and cared for us well. She loved to make food, baking up a storm as the saying goes. She was an excellent cook and served us many delicious meals. Susan remembers that once when visiting, Mum made curried potatoes and roti. Mum apologized that the food might not be tasty as she had not cooked in a long time because as my sisters grew older, they had taken over the cooking. Susan has repeated over the years that it is the best curried potato she has ever eaten!
Mum herself enjoyed almost every food, except for dumpling. And don’t give her anything red! Because that’s where the ordinarily gentle Chin would see red! She would never drink anything that was red – no sweet drink or sorrel. And she detested ookoo (or roucou) the red liquid of a native plant used by the First People/Amerindians.
Mum had a great connection with nature. Her favourite fun spot was by the river. A big one flowed behind our house through the estate, and she spent endless hours there. This water baby also found great joy in flowers. She planted every variety she could find, and they coloured her world, and ours, with beauty.
Mum shared our love of sports. Cricket is our passion, and this seems to be genetic on both of our parents’ sides. Mum could follow bat for bat, and we spent countless hours in sporting activities in the savanna in the village. Mum created other lifelong memories such as taking us out on Sunday afternoons or to Carnival festivities in Sangre Grande, and too many others to mention.
She had giftings in music and song. Blessed with a nightingale’s voice, she was a popular choice at functions and get-togethers. She would often be asked to sing on-the spot much to the delight of the listeners. Mum was an expert on the drums, and many wedding celebrations featured her drumbeating. (Coincidentally, Herb Alpert the American jazz trumpeter and bandleader was born on the same day as Mum, on March 31, 1935. It’s interesting that they both had musical giftings!)
Mum left this earth on May 6, 2022. This date is significant as it is designated Child Care Provider Day. And the question is – With Mummy no longer here, who will be caregiver and lend comfort?
You who are alive must now be caregiver and provider.
Mum took her children to church to learn about God. Who will carry on the legacy of taking the young ones to church?
What impact will you leave on the village, and in the neighbourhood where you currently live?
Who will use their gifts of song and music to draw individuals to the Lord?
Will you find an oasis of rest in the beauty of God’s creation to refresh your weary soul?
Friends, well-wishers, family, Chin lived a fruitful life. As the Scripture says in Hebrews 13:14 “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” Mum has gone to her permanent home where she is with her Maker and loved ones who lived for Him.
The void will not be easily filled. Mum will be mourned by her surviving sisters: Eleanora Anastacio, Mary Tom, and Ruffina Orosco. And her sisters-in-law Mary Anastacio, and Marion Harris, our father’s sister.
Mum will be grieved for by her 11 children and their spouses and partners, 17 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren. In birth order are their respective families:
Her oldest child and son Patrick (Thomas, who supported Mum and travelled often to visit her), daughter-in-law Susan, and granddaughter Radiance.
Her son Kenrick.
Her oldest daughter Avian, son-in-law Amzo (Amzad), and grandchildren Nigel, Donny, Shara, and Sarah (all who travelled much to visit Mum).
Her daughter Maureen (who helped with care) and her grandsons and their families: Amir and Ajay; Ashmir and Tylon; Rawle, Charmaine, and Renissa.
Daughter Verna and her grandchildren and their families: Sherma, Isaiah, Sherlana and Angel. And Kevin & Sarah, Kiara and Kayon. They helped cared for Mum and the little ones will be bewildered that she is no longer here.
Her daughter Daphne (who visited Mum frequently) and son-in-law Ashford, and grandchildren Nadia and Ronnie. Mum would have already met her grandson Ronnell in Heaven.
Daughter Karen who cared for Mum.
Son William and Charmaine.
Son Peter (Anthony) who cared for Mum.
Daughter Angela who cared for Mum.
And son Freddy (Frederick) and daughter-in-law Marie, and grandsons Justin, Josiah, and Jovon.
There are too many to name who will undoubtedly feel the loss of Mum – Aldwyn, Patsy, and Chantelle; as well as her many nieces and nephews, and everyone who called her Aunty.
May this service be a reminder of your own mortality. May you pledge to live your life so as to meet Mummy, Granny, Chin, when it’s your time to depart earth. May you live so that your life will glorify the Lord and lead individuals into Eternity.
(From Susan to Peter) That you are named Peter is not by chance. Names carry meaning and often that meaning is lived out in the life of the bearer. Jesus sealed the name Peter which means Rock. “Peter” declares that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Peter Harris, you are a solid bearer of the image of Christ. As you lead the family in Trinidad daily, being present in the same home, may you draw on Christ to be your lead. Then you will never go wrong.
(From Susan to Avian) “Big sister”, your name means bird-like in French. May you soar high on wings that will never tire. May you tap into the eyes of faith that offer a 360-degree view as you rise. The family will look to you to fill in for Mummy and you will do it well. For you carry her sweetness, a gentle and compassionate spirit. You are a peacemaker, a totally selfless and kind soul, a daughter of the Most High. I’ve loved you since the first time I met you. Thank you for providing Mummy’s life details to write this tribute.
(From Susan to Thomas) That you are named Thomas is not by chance. Like the disciple Thomas who was called the Twin, you are also one of a twin (and Mummy now has met her other little boy in Heaven). Thomas was the first to acknowledge Jesus Christ’s divinity after the resurrection through his proclamation “My Lord and My God”. Similar to Thomas the apostle who spread the news of Jesus throughout the nations, you do too. As you exercise leadership of the family from Canada, may your influence and wisdom, prayer and faith, motivate the family to adopt this lifestyle and keep afloat. Thanks, too, for providing information for this legacy.
Thomas, Peter, Avian, and the others – be reminded that you carry the genetics of the first Governor General of Trinidad through your father’s heritage. You are descendants of British baron George Francis Robert Harris, 3rd Baron Harris (14 August, 1810 – 23 November, 1872). Lord Harris was also a Liberal politician and colonial administrator. He served as the Governor of Trinidad from 1846 to 1854, and Madras (India) from 1854 to 1859. During his tenure in Trinidad, Lord Harris revamped the education system and laid the foundation for the present-day system. Harris also mooted the idea of importing indentured labourers from India to replace the plantation slaves who had been freed following the abolition of slavery. Lord Harris is considered to be one of Trinidad’s best ever administrators and his name hails on many prominent locations throughout Trinidad.
Leadership runs in your veins. With the physical and spiritual DNA you possess, you have exceeding abundantly above what you can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). All will be well.
May the comfort of the Holy Spirit rest, remain and abide with us all. May He strengthen us in the days ahead as we adjust to a different normal without Mummy. Though she is gone yet she lives in the reminders around us. She left us memories to treasure.
Our family wishes to thank the Biche Outreach Health Centre for the care they provided to Mummy, Lightway Pentecostal Church, and the Biche Roman Catholic Church for today’s going-away service. We are appreciative of the support from the community, well-wishers, friends, and relatives both in Trinidad and abroad, in person and on social media, by phone and by email. Your prayers and kindness have meant a lot to us in this difficult time.
Nonetheless, the Word of God tells us to give thanks in everything. Let’s give thanks for the life of the woman we are proud to have called mother, sister, friend, aunty, Melvina, and Chin. We thank Father God for the 87 years, 1 month and 5 days that she graced our world. We celebrate the impact she made. She will always be alive in our minds until that glorious day of reunion.
Farewell Mummy. We will meet you in the Resurrection. Enjoy Heaven’s peace.
(Written by Susan Harris)