A CariMAN Mother’s Day Conversation with Lester Guye:
In this short interview during the lead up to Mothers Day 2013 (12th May) and The 2013 Giraudel Flower show (19th May), Adom Philogene Heron (researcher on family life in Dominica and Cariman member) caught up with Lester Guye (psychologist/counsellor at The National HIV and AIDS Response Unit and Cariman member) to discuss Lester’s memories of his mother – from his time raising up in Eggleston, through his educational years, and up to the present.
This special CariMAN conversation is a tribute not only to Lester’s mother, but to all of the mothers and motherly substitutes across Dominica and her Diaspora. On behalf of all of your sons CariMAN extends an extra special ‘Thank you’.
A Beautiful Flower
APH: What is your mother’s name?
APH: And when you think of that name what is the first thing that springs to your mind?
LG: A rose obviously! [a smile suddenly lights up his face]
APH: A rose? So a beautiful flower?
LG: Oh, definitely!
APH: Give us a little background, some context on where you raised up and the family you raised up in.
LG: I grew up in Eggleston/ Giraudel, the flower village of Dominica. I grew up with my mum, always a single parent. It has always been she, myself and my [younger] sister. It’s only later in life that I developed a relationship with my father, but it has always been mum. She worked at one of the supermarkets [in Roseau]; she has been there from since my sister was born.
A Perennial Educational Support
APH: One thing I remember you mentioning in a previous discussion is how supportive your mum was of your education. You mentioned how proud she was when you got into secondary school.
LG: Oh extremely supportive! Oh man! Secondary school, yes I remember that. I remember my mother buying stuff for us, buying your school stuff. And you could see more pride in her face than you yourself was probably feeling, you understand. Just the fact that she can safely say that “my kids, my son is going to secondary school” was something very important to her. And I think it carried through, not only through secondary school, but when I went out to university [in Mexico]… You were assured that every time she called you would get a boost of energy, or encouragement. And she would let you know that “Eh listen, I will go through the grinds for you to know that you will complete successfully”.
APH: So she offered emotional support throughout your studies?
LG: Exactly, you know emotional support was there, financial support was there. I remember at a point when she herself wasn’t even well. And she would encourage me not to worry about her because you got to do what you got to do. “You have to do what you have to do”. Because she have support back home, because she’s back home. But you on the other hand are flying solo to an extent, so you have to keep your focus. Those kind of things meant a lot to me, they really meant a lot to me.
The Only Woman I Can Truly Rely On
APH: You mentioned in another conversation that you learned from a young age that your mother was the only woman you could truly rely on. At what point did you come to come to realise that?
LG: It would be my late teenage years… in our society at a certain age you’re supposed to somewhat be on your own, doing your own stuff. You have your little hitches, your little hiccups, but I could never remember a time when I could not call on her, when she wasn’t able to help – she would go the extra mile… In the given situations you knew that an extra effort had to be in place… based on the circumstances that were presented to us, financially and socially at the time. And it has stuck with me you know, and in any given situation, no matter where I am and what I’m doing I Know that I can call on her at any time.
From Provided to Provider
APH: I know that in his relationship to a mother, as a boy becomes a man, there is often a tipping point when he is no longer completely dependent on his mother and he begins to provide for and care for her as she grows old. Do you think of this as you look to the future, or even now?
LG: That’s a good question because it is something that has been established in my mind that whenever everything is said and done, she is retired and everything, for me the fact that she has to live with me–, it’s almost inevitable, it’s something that will just be. I will take pride in it.
I will even joke with her now. My mum is very particular about what she eat. So I will joke with her and say, “when you come to live with me, you get is what you will take!” [we laugh]. Just being troublesome, like naughty. Telling her, “eh listen, you know the tables have turned”. Out of love you know…. I have never said, “When you’re with my sister” or “if you have your own home”. No. It’s like “when you live with me, I am the one who will be cooking for you at some point”. So it’s Almost like I look forward to it.
Food is Love
APH: So food has a very special place in your relationship with your mother?
LG: I am not one of those people that are not very particular about what I eat. [But] I don’t eat meat and stuff… I can remember specifically when my mum would cook on a Sunday and she is making food for everybody and she would make the same thing, my own, but without meat. And that was never a problem. It was never like “oh, why can’t I just cook one pot” or “find something to do for yourself”. It was always like, “Lester, I did this for you and before I put the meat in I took out yours”…
Even recently, there is something I really like when I cook, I like tomatoes. My mum don’t really like it… Just the other day before I went overseas, she cook one day she says, “Lester, I put tomatoes in this because I know you like it”. And For me it was like wow. It seems like something so minute and simple, but in my head, for me it really meant something large for me.
…Even when I was younger I would go out and not eat. Even when you’d offer me something, I would not eat because I know my mother is preparing something and I have to eat my mum’s food. And it’s not out of disrespect for you, but it’s out of respect for her.
… And anytime I am with someone and she asks me have I eaten, it means a lot, it carries a lot of weight for me – because my mother does it… It’s something that meant a lot to her, that we’re never hungry. So for me, somebody looking out for my wellbeing in terms of alimentary stuff, for me meant a lot.
For mother’s day CariMAN in partnership with the Dominica National Council of Women will be giving a hamper to an individual Dominican mother who has been nominated by her community for her outstanding, exemplary and sacrificial motherly love.
To learn more of CariMAN’s work in Dominica and the Region: http://cariman.org/cariman-countries/dominica/
For more on Adom’s PhD research please visit: http://fathermen.blogspot.com/
For some background on The National HIV and AIDS Response Programme where Lester Works as a counsellor please visit: https://dominicanewsonline.com/news/homepage/news/health/dominica-assesses-its-national-hivaids-response-programme/