I walked beside her, as a young adolescent herself, caring for her younger siblings after her mother’s untimely death. I confronted the grueling, but rewarding efforts of “reine corvet,” (queen of the feast) cooking large meals for dozens of men hungry after working collectively on the land. I sat beside her learning to read, not through a formal education, but through the use of a Bible and thanks to her uncle’s patience.
It is this last memory that I always turn to when I think of what and who she stood for. Two undeniable facts about Gamma was her undying faith in God and her belief in the importance and power of education. And the significance of this image—that my Gamma learned to read because she wanted to experience the Bible on her own— has never been lost on me, as I still recall the unexpected tightening of my chest the first time I heard her tell this story. Her spiritual freedom and her curiosity to intimately know her God and His son, was intrinsically tied to her intellectual freedom.
I would often proudly declare that Gamma was my best friend, but I always knew that our relationship was a far second to her intimacy with God. Gamma laughed the loudest, cried the hardest, and talked the most while reading the Bible and praying. Her joy and comfort in this harsh world did not come primarily from her family, but from her faith in a merciful God. Her unconditional love for us was never of her own doing, but was a reflection of the love she felt from God.
In a way, through sharing my connections with Haiti and my understanding of my Haitianness on Anacaona’s Daughters, I continue to honor my Gamma. I am building relationships with other women by sharing snapshots of my life, and equally honoring her memory by sharing her story as well.