To Mary Geo Quinn

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By Dotsie Isaac

A seedling of the Hampson stock

Planted firmly in the Antiguan rock . . . in Winthorpes

Uprooted by the Americans for military space

She was replanted in a new place.

In the New Winthorpes this daughter blossomed and grew

Into. . .

Author, matriarch and mother

Educator, teacher

Dear wife of a preacher

She was Mary Georgianna Quinn.

Only she could tell

Of all her talents which one she loved so well

Enough for it to be number one.

Some would dare say… author

For her characters left the black-and-white of the page

Came alive in vibrant colours, acting on the stage

Of our imagination.

She could do that.

She was Grand Dame of poetry and prose

So could that have been her favourite, you suppose?

Scores of yellow, legal pads

Scribing every thought, every idea she’s ever had

No computer or Microsoft word; pure long-hand

That’s the way she got it done

Shuffling her words into timing and rhyming

Rearranging her lexis across the pages

Metering it into rhythm and verses

Tales of Mama and Papa; and love; and love of mangoes

First kiss by the sugar mill, and who knows?

The arsenal of words in her possession

Shaped her perfect alchemy of expression

Her poetry.

But she also waxed poetic in scripture and verse

So could her greatest love have been the Church?

She proclaimed her Christianity

Taught about the Bible and sanctity

Superintendent of Sunday school

Teaching the golden text and golden rule

But hundreds of her past students may disagree

Hands in the air they say, “Pick me! Pick me!”

And they would say “Teacher.”

Teacher is the one she loved best

The reading, writing and ‘rithmetic tests

And all the loving time she spent

On our manners and personal development

The “yes m’ams,” “no sirs,” and all the “I am sorrys.”

The “thank you,” “good morning, teacher,” the “excuse me please.”

The the special way she made us feel

After all those decades she remembered our names

So much of what she instilled in us still remains.”

Then there was the great love of her life

The one who made her his honourable wife

Mary was hers …. and Joseph, his name

But not the ones of immaculate conception fame

Joseph and his beautiful, new bride

Were indeed quite fruitful, and they multiplied

They brought eight children into the world

Five boys with biblical names and three girls

A brood of which she could not be more proud

Spiritual, accomplished and well endowed

With talent and intelligence of her pedigree

Perhaps her children are her best legacy

A round of applause for the life of this extraordinary woman

Who gave for the pure joy of giving

Gave without ever expecting.

Between her poetry and songs and stories

Between her hallelujahs and her glories

She’s given so much to community and nation

She gave so much to education

She gave to it with all her heart

She’s given to culture and the arts

She’s given us her very own children

Among them:

Educators and teachers

Activists, orators and a preacher

She’s given us our very first elected woman parliamentarian

Mary Geo Quinn did that!

Oh yes! She did much good

And she held the line for as long as she could

After eighty-seven years she’s gone…but not without a trace

For she’s left her mark all over the place.

Literally.

Raise the standard for this remarkable woman.

This impeccable daughter of Antiguan soil.

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