A Loving Tribute to My Father, Cuthbert Emmanuel Vincent BEM (1928 - 2010)
For The Generations To Come!
As I read 1 Chronicles in the Holy Bible, I marveled at the amount of family history recorded and preserved for more than 2,000 years! Things such as the number of sons and daughters that a man had, their names, which cities they founded, their trade/profession, where they originated from, who they married, who they had children with, how many of their descendants were men eligible for military duty, etcetera.
Then my mind shifted to my Dad (may he rest in peace), and I thought of all the wonderful things he had quietly accomplished in his life; since he was not much of a talker but very much a doer.
And while I have many cherished memories of my father and heard so many wonderful stories from other people, after his death, about how he had impacted their lives in his own quiet and pragmatic way, I thought that I needed to pay him tribute beyond the eulogy that I read on the day of his funeral (December 20, 2010).
So I have written this loving tribute to my Dad - Cuthbert Emmanuel Vincent - so that long after I have expired and the people who knew him, loved him and shared memories of him expire, his name, deeds and fond memories of his immediate and extended family will live on for the future generations in the Vincent family.
This is a photo of my Dad, at age 78, that I took on December 24, 2006. We were going to Mass on Christmas Eve which fell on a Sunday.
"Dad! Here's to you! Thanks for being the best father a daughter could ever have!"
One thing I was really glad about after my father's passing was that I had asked him to write what he remembered about his known family members. He wrote some interesting information that I could never have known otherwise and so I have the honour of preserving it for future generations.What is really great about this hardcover journal is that it uses questions as prompts to help you as a father, or your father, answer some important questions about the family’s history or genealogy. It’s easier with these prompts and there are some questions asked that you or your father may not have thought of by yourself/himself.
Dad the FAMILY MAN
My Dad married my Mom (Mary Imelda Vincent ne Simon) in August 1960. Together they had 6 children as follows, by order of birth: Raphael (a.k.a. Anthony Christopher), Martin, Cletus, Heidi, Michelle and Irenaeus.
In August 1985, my parents formally renewed their marriage vows, on their 25th Wedding Anniversary, with a Mass and a small informal gathering of family friends.
Although it was my Mom who actively planned outings, my Dad participated fully by driving his family to where ever we were going (beach, around the island picnics, drive-in) and helping my Mom prepare and pack food. My Dad often cooked lunch during school weekdays. He would also pick us up from school during the lunch hour and we would eat as a family at his office from our family lunch basket, then he would drop us back to school. He also waited for us after school to finish our after school lessons and extra-curricular activities.
My Dad travelled sometimes for his job and as children we eagerly waited for the presents he would bring back. He lived and studied in Puerto Rico for one (1) year during the early 1960s. He travelled to Russia in the early 1980s and to Canada and several other Caribbean countries in the late 1980s. He never forgot to bring back something special for each of his children and his wife.
Many family photos were lost due to extreme water damage during Hurricane Ivan on September 7, 2004 (My Dad's birthdate. Would you believe it!). Luckily, I was able to salvage the family photos in this article).
Vincent Family Photos Over the YearsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Dad and HIS AWARDS
Dad was honoured, on the Queen’s Birthday, with a British Empire Medal in the early 1980s for meritorious civil service.
“The British Empire Medal (formally British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service) is “a British medal awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown [British Monarchy]”.
“As a Commonwealth realm, Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of Grenada and Head of State”, which is why this award originates from Britain.
In November 2006, as the Grenada Ports Authority (GPA) celebrated its 25th anniversary, management remembered the excellence with which my father had served the GPA more than 12 years earlier, and presented Dad with an award for loyal and effective service from 1982 to 1994.
Dad's Award from the Grenada Ports Authority
It took me 3 and a half years after my father’s death to put together this article about my family’s history and many times I have wished I had more time with my father. In retrospect it’s just never thought that he would be gone so soon. This book is “A warm, accessible, step-by-step guide to creating precious personal histories from the memories of older people, by the best-selling author of Hang Time and his sister, journalist D. G. Fulford.”
Dad driving his Mazda 1800 Sedan
As a teenager (around 14/15 years), I was playing around with a camera in the back seat and took this photo of my Dad driving our family's Mazda 1800 Sedan near Ms. Snagg's shop in St. Pauls. How precious a photo it is now. I'm glad I did not throw it away.
Dad the MECHANIC, MACHINIST & WELDER
There was no better mechanic, machinist or welder in Grenada than my Dad! My Dad was dedicated to his job and a problem solver. He travelled all over the island fixing government vehicles and machinery that had broken down or fallen into disrepair.
The true testimony of his mechanical skills was his 1970 Mazda 1800 Sedan which he kept in tip top shape from the day he bought it, somewhere in 1971/1972 until 2004, when Hurricane Ivan damaged the car’s windshield and no replacement could be found for it. That’s 33 years of faithful service from his Mazda 1800 Sedan with his loving and expert care and attention to that car.
As a child growing up, that faithful Mazda 1800 Sedan took our entire family to Mass every Sunday, to school every day of the week, around the island on family picnics and outings, to the beach, to the Drive-In cinema, to church harvests and more.
The Mazda 1800 Sedan was our family’s Sunday and special occasion vehicle. The original colour was yellow and it was first my Mom’s car which she drove around whenever we weren’t going out with my Dad. If we were going out as a family my Dad drove her car, which was our luxury car. My Dad’s car back then was a Hillman and that was considered the family’s work and school vehicle.
In later years my father had body work done on the Mazda 1800 Sedan to prevent rusting of the body and it was spray painted a metallic brown instead. By then it had become our ‘old car’ since my Mom now had a new Chevrolet car.
My Dad taught me to drive with that Mazda 1800 Sedan and, in 1990, I took my driving examination with it, passed the driving test and got my driver’s license. He subsequently lent me his car to go to work, since I sometimes worked late night shifts at Barclays Bank, to steel pan practice and other outings from time to time.
For most, of his working life, Dad worked at the Public Works and for some time at the Drill Yard. After officially retiring from the public service in 1982, he worked another 12 years, from 1982 to 1994, at the Grenada Ports Authority.
Dad was extremely skilled at machining also and many persons, including the Port Manager of the Grenada Ports Authority at the time, Ambrose Phillip, have acknowledged how he often saved government lots of money by crafting replacement parts for vehicles and machinery that served as perfect substitutes.
Dad crafted lots of wrought ironwork, especially with his signature ‘S’ shape which he bent into shape through welding. He burglar proofed our home with his beautiful wrought iron work and my former Secondary School, St. Joseph’s Convent, as well as the Cathedral parish in St. George’s are among the many places that also benefited from his wrought iron work. His wrought iron work at our original home is the only thing that remained intact during Hurricane Ivan in 2004 (see the pictures below of our renovated home post Hurricane Ivan in 2004 with his wrought iron burglar bars still intact).
Image Credit: Mazda 1800 Sedan/ Michael/flickr.com
Some of Dad's Wrought Iron Work
Notice the burglar proofing, made by my Dad, on the 4 windows to the front of our renovated home - Post Hurricane Ivan
Family Genealogy - How Far Back Can You Go?
How much of your family's history do you know?
Dad's Early Years & Known Family Members
My Dad, Cuthbert Emmanuel Vincent was born on September 7, 1928 to Octavia Antoine and Lewis Vincent. He grew up in Mt. Airy, St. Pauls, St. George with his grandmother Louisa Antoine, his grandfather Lewis Vincent, his mother Octavia Antoine and his three (3) sisters by his mother – Monica, Thelma & Ena. He was the only boy in his mother’s four (4) children and his three (3) sisters by his mother adored him.
His father, Lewis Vincent, later married Marie Vincent ne Beharry and Dad gained two (2) more sisters - Cynthia Victor ne Vincent and Yvonne Munro ne Vincent - who loved their big brother even more.
He attended the St. Dominic’s Roman Catholic (R.C.) School in Perdmontemps, St. David and served as an acolyte at the St. Dominic’s R.C. Church.
His childhood was challenging. He recounted having to walk to the town St. George’s to make his first communion in a shoe that was too tight, sometimes going to school hungry and eating yellow plum for lunch on many days when it was in season or breadfruit or plain rice with no meat. His mother did her best by sending a box of groceries for them from Trinidad when she could and he was responsible for collecting it at the port.
Dad’s family, as far as he remembers, consisted of:
1.His grandfather, Ellis Antoine, who he remembers as being “a very nice person to me”, was in charge of the Mt Airy Cemetery in St. Paul’s as the caretaker and when someone died and wanted to bury someone, they came to him to get directions for where they could dig the grave for the deceased person.
He fondly recalled sitting on the wooden steps of their home every afternoon from about 4 o’clock and looking out to see when his grandfather “would come riding up the hill with his 2 long feet stretching down almost touching the ground on both sides of his donkey.” He would run to meet his grandfather and his grandfather would lift him up onto the donkey and they would ride home together.
Ellis Antoine eventually, died and left behind his wife, Louisa Antoine. Dad believed that they honoured him by burying him close to the main gate of the Mount Airy Cemetery in St. Pauls when he died.
2.His grandmother, Louisa Antoine, who was a Barbadian and was nicknamed “Dada”. He fondly remembered her as “a very dear and devoted old lady to me”, who shielded him on many occasions from being beaten by his mother, Octavia Antoine.
Louisa Antoine worked on the family’s plot of sugar cane land in Hope Vale and helped other small sugarcane farmers to reap the sugar cane from their lands. My Dad recalls that in those days, sugarcane fields, plantations and mills were prevalent in Grenada. He also mentioned that those who owned their own small sugar cane plots of land, like his grandparents, helped to reap the cane on other small owners’ lands and received help from them to reap the cane on their land. No one paid for labour. They just helped each other out when harvesting time came around.
He also affectionately recalled that his grandmother used to wear a dress made of checks or dungaree material, with pockets on both sides, and always carried home some bread and fish cakes for him in her pockets.
As a young man, Dad helped his grandmother ‘Dada’ take care of his sisters after his mother, Octavia Antoine, migrated to Trinidad and later to the USA in pursuit of employment. Then when ‘Dada’ died he continued to take care of his sister Monica who, by then, was the only one of his mother’s daughters still in Grenada.
His grandmother then passed away and was buried next to her husband, Ellis Antoine, near the entrance of the Mt. Airy Cemetery, St. Pauls in an unmarked grave. I know that he loved her very much because he said, “Now with my grandmother and my Aunt [Elaine] dead, I used to lie in my bed and cry for many nights.” In Dad’s own words, “May they rest in peace, Amen”
3.His father, Lewis Vincent, who he met for the first time when he was somewhere between 8 and 12 years and liked very much. He described his father as a very flashy person who wore very pretty suits, had lots of gold teeth in his mouth and gold rings on the fingers of both his hands. He bought several pieces of land all over the island, including Charlotte Valle, and he lived in a small house just after the former Nutmeg Pool in St. Pauls.
Before she migrated to Trinidad, Dad’s mother, Octavia ‘Tavi’ Antoine, used to send him to his father’s home every Sunday morning to get money from him to buy food for the two (2) children he had fathered by her - my father and his younger sister, Monica.
He recounts that when he got to his father’s home, he never came out to see him. Instead, a woman named Brin would answer the door and then a few minutes later she would bring him a silver coin, the value of 2 shillings and 6 pence. This went on for some time but he doesn’t remember when and how it stopped. Dad described his father as very loving and giving.
Lewis Vincent married a fair-skinned dougla woman (a product of African and East Indian descent) from Sauteurs, St. Patrick, who Dad called ‘Ms. Marie’. Every Christmas, she used to give my father money to buy a ham for her. Ms. Marie loved Dad very much and she had two (2) daughters with his father, Lewis Vincent - Cynthia Victor ne Vincent and Yvonne Munro ne Vincent - who also loved him very much. In Dad’s own words, “May God bless Ms. Marie and may she rest in peace.”
4.His Mother, Octavia ‘Tavi’ Antoine, whom he described “as a very hardworking mother to her 4 children; 3 girls and 1 boy. Always doing something to make a shilling so that we could have had clothes on our backs and food for our belly”. She washed clothes for the priests in Perdmontemps, St. David and St. Pauls, St. George.
After a while, she told her 4 children that she was migrating to Trinidad to seek employment. Every Friday, she sent a large cardboard box with groceries by boat, which lasted them for several days. She did this for several months and then she migrated to the USA in 1965.
She worked in the USA for several years and later died there. Dad learned of his mother’s passing via a telephone call from his sister, Thelma, who had by then migrated to the USA also.
He was unable to attend his mother’s funeral at the time of her death but several months later he did visit the USA and he said, “my first request was to take me to the burial site of my mother, which they did. I felt very sad but I did not cry beyond a watery eye. May she rest in peace.”
5.Three (3) sisters by his mother - Monica Vincent who travelled between Trinidad, which became her primary home and the USA, and Thelma & Ena, who migrated to the USA.
6.Two (2) aunts, Elaine Antoine and Irene Thomas ne Antoine . Alas, by the time I had the good sense to ask Dad to record the details he remembered about his family, he passed away before telling me about his Aunt Irene. The only thing that I gathered was that she was married based on the additional surname that he gave me.
Of his Aunt Elaine he said, “She was a very nice and highly educated person and I liked her very much. She always had very good advice for you.” He also recalled that she worked as a nurse at the Colony Hospital in St. George’s (now called the General Hospital) and was later transferred to the Tuberculosis Hospital as the Matron in charge.
She left work and was home at one point but was not enjoying good health. My father speculated that her deteriorating health was as a result of a ‘no good fellow’ who came into her life and she began drinking rum, smoking with her tobacco pipe and eventually had a baby with that same ‘no good fellow’. The baby died at around 6 to 8 months and was buried on family land at the foot of Madigras Hill, St. David.
7.His uncle, Clifford Antoine, who Dad described “as a very short and aggressive fellow who was always looking other fellows for fight.” And get this! “He had one good hand and a ‘finney hand’ (deformed hand)”. Can you believe this? (smile)
“He was always well dressed in his cream flannel suit and his wife was a very nice and pious lady.” Clifford Antoine worked for a large company called ‘Mc Cartney & Williams’ which owned several businesses in the town of St. George.
He visited Dad’s grandparents, Ellis & Louisa Antoine, who were his parents, on Sundays and usually spent the whole day. Dad recalled that his grandmother “liked Clifford very much and was happy when he came home”.
Clifford Antoine also loved to play cricket but because of his deformed arm and leg, whenever he was batting, someone else had to do the running for him to score runs.
He got sick and remained at his home for a while before he died. “For 3 days after the burial, a great crowd of people gathered at the home saying a lot of prayers and drinking tea or coffee. Then I started to feel the absence of his being or person. May he rest in peace and may the Lord have mercy on his soul. Amen”
8.His cousin, Kernal Clark, who Dad told me about while he was alive but regrettably I do not remember any of the details about his cousin and he did not have time write about him for me. He did, however, show me where his cousin used to live in Perdmontemps, St. David. The only other information that I have about him was graciously shared by my Aunt Theresa Laura Pivotte (on my mother’s side), who told me that Kernal Clark was a tall, slim man, who worked as an Orderly at the Mental Hospital in St. George’s.
Family Heritage Activity for Children
See How to Make a 3 Generation Family Tree for Kids
"Introducing your children to their heritage when they're young is a great way to stimulate their interest in family history and the relatives who came before them." (Karen Frisch)
This ‘living’ family tree is a great idea for a young couple who will eventually start a family, already has a growing family or for grandparents. There are six (6) tiny photo frames on the tree that you can place pictures of all the children in (or the parents and children, if the family has 4 or less children). Grandma and grandpa would just love this gift, so that they can show off their grandchildren!
Dad the DEVOUT CATHOLIC
My Dad drove his family to church every Sunday and he prayed the Holy Rosary with his family every Saturday afternoon. In later years, he preferred the Saturday evening Mass and I was lucky to have had the privilege to go to Saturday evening Mass with him for the last 2 years of his life.
As a boy, my Dad served as an acolyte and in those days, the Mass was often said in Latin. Throughout his life, he remembered every response in the Latin Mass although he never formally learned Latin.
Dad prayed his Rosary every night and he was a Third Order Dominican . He took his monthly Third Order meetings seriously and never missed a meeting. Even on days when meeting attendance was low, if only one person attended the meeting, it was sure to be my Dad.
His association with the Dominican Community was as a result of the fact that earlier in his life he wanted to become a priest. This was not possible, however, since the Catholic Church at that time did not accept persons who were born out of wedlock to become priests. So he was particularly proud when my youngest brother, Irenaeus, who is also the last of his 6 children, became a Dominican Priest.
My Dad was a real man! He prayed the Holy Rosary daily and attended to all his duties with true devotion.In this book, "David N. Calvillo narrates his own life-changing experience of the Rosary, presents a comprehensive guide to the Rosary, and offers a 33-Day Rosary Challenge." Give your father, son or other man in your life this meaningful gift.
Dad the FARMER & COOK
I still don’t know how he did it but after working whole day, my Dad would wait for us to finish our extra-curricular activities at school, drive us home while attentively listening to how we had spent our day and then on arriving home he would change his clothes and go down to our land to plant something, reap something, cutlass etc.
Dad planted short crops such as yams, dasheen, sweet potatoes, green peas, sorrel, corn, sugar cane, carrots, tomatoes, various seasonings, etc. for our own home use. Dad also reared fowls, pigs and rabbits, at various times over the years, for our own home use.
We had various food and fruit trees in our land such as breadfruit, fig/banana, bluggo, plantain, seville orange, soursop, sapodilla, french cashew and mango. There were cocoa and nutmeg trees and the crops from these were sold to the Cocoa Association and Nutmeg Association, respectively, in order to supplement his salary.
As children, we had to help with shelling green peas, breaking clove, picking up nutmegs, separating the mace from the nutmegs, removing cocoa beans from the cocoa pod etc.
I don’t have earlier photos of him in the garden but this is a lovely one taken by my oldest brother, Raphael, with 2 of Dad’s grandchildren - Octavia (named after Dad's mother) and Andreya - in April 2009 (Dad at age 80 he took 81 in September of 2009).
My Dad cured and baked our Christmas ham every year! That ham was THE BEST! He also baked bread weekly and helped my Mom mix the heavy cakes, such as the Christmas Black cake.
For our Church’s annual breakfast everyone wanted my Dad, Mr. Vincent, to prepare smoke herring because my Dad would take his time and de-bone that smoke herring with all those fine bones and season it up. When it reached the Church breakfast, it was gone in no time at all.
My Dad had a Seiko watch like this one and when he was in the hospital, he took it off and gave it to me for safe keeping. When he passed away, I resized it to fit my hand. For me it is a priceless heirloom!Make this Seiko solar watch an inheritance piece in your or someone else’s family.It does not require batteries, has “a protective Hardlex crystal dial window, features day and date and is water-resistant to 30 m (99 feet).”
Until We Meet Again Dad!
They say that “In cherished thoughts and memories, loved ones never really depart.” I believe it because, even as I write this tribute to my Dad, close to 4 years have passed since his death and I feel him ever present in my heart. I ask God and my Dad for help when I’m stuck with a problem, I brain-storm with them, I tell them about my joys and my disappointments and I ask them to help me, pray for me, guide me and protect me.
I hold on to four (4) precious reminders of him - his Seiko watch (which I resized to fit me), his Rosary (which I use to say my daily Rosary), his 4-week Psalter of the Liturgy of Hours (which I use to say my morning prayers) and the last Christmas Card that he gave me in 2009.
And I know in my heart that Dad is busy in Heaven praising God and still trying to watch over his family.
Photos of Dad & I... - at various stages in my lifeClick thumbnail to view full-size
The HOW & WHY of Family History Research
Cool reasons for why you should learn about your family's history.
A very useful tool to help you start the process of learning about and documenting your family's history.
Learn useful search techniques and websites to make your family history research easier.
Learn useful search techniques and websites to make your family history research easier.
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