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Profile of A Warrior Woman
She is a Warrior Woman
Grandma Shatty is a hero and I have always wanted to share with the world some details about her life. She was born during a period in our history when the world was transitioning from imperialism to nationalism. She was born in a place where, like the rest of the modern world, was going through political, social and economical changes. She was embarking on an era when those who were oppressed or disadvantaged would learn to forge their independence and self-determination. She experienced a world where women gained the right to vote and hence to participate more fully in the political process. Her life’s work was determined as much by her heritage as the post-emancipation world of the early nineteen hundreds. She also survived the Spanish Influenza, numerous hurricanes and at least one major earthquake. She is a warrior survivor.
Charlotte Ariel Anderson was born in 1915 in a very rural district in the Caribbean island of Jamaica. She was known as Aunty Shatty by everyone in her community and was fondly called “Shatty” by her family and relatives. She was the second of nine children born to Caleb and Drucilla Anderson. Her father was a Scottish landowner, whose father was a slave-owner in the district in which she was born. Her mother was a first generation former slave. Her grandmother was owned by her husband’s grandfather and father. The juxtaposing backgrounds of her parents were major factors that informed and influenced Shatty’s world views, and hence her response to what was happening in her community and the world.
She was a Liberal who took personal responsibilities for the advancement of her community. Simultaneously, she would encourage people in the community to participate in the political process by voting. She told them that in order to demand accountability and action from the politicians to change the statues quo, they must become involved.
Even with a grade six level of education, Shatty could mobilize grassroots groups in her community to challenge and change the statues quo. My grandfather told me of the time when she was instrumental in organizing the farmers in her community to demand higher prices for their crops. She was curious by nature, liking to travel and to read. She made it her business to be informed about what was happening in her community and the world. She was very involved in the Baptist Church and later the Anglican Church. She was not afraid of hard work. She worked in the fields alongside her husband.
Shatty was married to Cyril Hall in 1942 and had nine children: seven boys and two girls. Shatty and her husband were somewhat opposite in the way that they responded to their surroundings and interacted with others. While Shatty was curious, outspoken and outgoing, her husband was pensive and reserved. She had no reservations about giving her opinions on issues that impacted her and the community. Even though to an outside observer, she could sometimes come across as blunt and overbearing, people from her community agreed that she was the most caring person they knew. She cared for the sick and elderly in the community; providing food, shelter and financial assistance. She helped children who were about to drop out of school, by encouraging them to stay in school and sometimes providing financial assistance. She remained a pillar of her community for over six decades. My siblings and I spent all of our summer holidays with her and Pappa, and those are some of the most memorable times in our lives. Shatty was a great story-teller.
In 1996, my grandfather became ill with Pancreatic Cancer. She was his primary care giver as cancer took over his body. He died a year later in October 1997. After more than half a century of marriage and companionship, she was without the love of her life.
Eight years later, Shatty died on October 31, 2004 in New York City. She was loved by her nine children, forty five grandchildren and ten great grandchildren. She was eighty nine years old. One of her daughters, my mom, gave the Eulogy at her funeral, citing Shatty’s exemplary legacy of “hard work and a sense of personal and community responsibility as the expectation and not the exception.” Shatty you are gone but will never be forgotten. Thanks for being a positive influence on the world.