Without question, our childhood influences us into the adults we are today. From our values, talents, faith and morals, we are groomed from an early age. My mother, Gloria Antoine, and my father Richard Hypolite had ten children between them. Marvin was on my dad’s side, and my other eight siblings were on my mom’s side. Nyron, Fitzgerald, Troy, Nicole, Deneal, Samantha, Genia, Carlvin, and me.
Although we were poor, I will cherish these memories of our big family for a lifetime. I had so many aunts, uncles and cousins that we made up almost eighty percent of our village. You never needed to look for any friends outside of your village because your siblings and cousins filled that role for you.
We all went to the same schools, so you always had a companion walking to school. You also had someone with you for evening entertainment or a partner for getting into trouble. You even had backup protection in the event of being accosted by other kids.
After school and weekends, we spent our time under the star apple tree, laughing, telling jokes, jumping rope, tops, marbles, cricket, hopscotch, hand games and talking about movies. One favorite pastime was making coconut fudge.
Sundays were spent at the river where we would load up all our dirty clothes and the older girls would help with the hand washing of the clothes. The adults would then lay the clothes on rocks to dry.
The small children would swim in the small basins while the older boys would catch crayfish. At the end of the day, we would all bathe and load the clothes into a pail on our heads for the long journey home.
Mango season was my favorite time of year and I was known as the village’s Mango Queen. To this day I own that title with pride. I would climb up and crawl under the mango trees before sunrise, and before anyone got up.
On other days during mango season, we would go to the bush to pick mangoes to share with older family members. During mango season we would turn our pots down and replace most of our meals with mangoes.
My other favorite time of year was Christmas. We spent Christmas Eve cleaning the house, baking cake, bread, and boiling the salt ham. At night we would go to town to see all the Christmas lights and window shop. Getting an apple, we could afford was a treat.
We never received presents and toys. I thought we lived too far away from the North Pole, and Santa couldn’t reach us. I prayed every year for his arrival but that never happened. Christmas day was a day for sharing and celebration. It was the only day each year we were allowed to overeat to our heart’s desire, especially the cake, soft drinks and hams during visits at our neighbor’s house.
Another of my favorite holidays was Easter. The boys would be busy making Easter kites for Good Friday. A group of us would go to The Rock or up in Maddie to see the kites fly. The worst part of the kites flying was the buzzing noise they made at night.
For Easter, our meal always consisted of seafood and ground provisions. Salt fish, smoked herring, mackerel, fish, yams, green bananas, sweet potatoes, dasheen, and dumplings. Lemon or lime juice was the perfect beverage that went along with the meal.
I have so many other fond memories of my early days in Grenada, but these are the ones that stood out most that I treasured. You can take the girl out of Grenada, but you can’t take Grenada out of the girl.