The Matriarch

In Fun
Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Portrait of Grandma Mack
Portrait of Grandma Mack

My grandmother was an extraordinary woman. She emigrated from Jamaica in the late 60s to seek new possibilities for her family. Despite being married and the mother of five children, my grandmother made that life transition entirely on her own, a true demonstration of her strength and independence. While she grappled with the adjustment of living in a foreign nation, she hustled to make a living to support her children. Unaware of my grandmother’s effort in forging a path, my mother felt disheartened by her five-year absence. She anxiously awaited the “green light” to immigrate to America and reunite with her mother. Having scraped together just enough, Grandma was prepared to welcome her two girls to their new “home” and later, her three sons. Not only did my grandmother face the challenge of assimilating to American culture uneducated, but she became burdened with the responsibility of raising five children on her own. She single-handedly paved the way for my family to prosper. Though I have few memories of her, I am constantly reminded of the legacy she left when she passed - hard work brings great reward. Because of her toil and tenacity, her children, their children (me), and even their children’s children can live a life rich with opportunity. Her spirit still lives today, permeating the air of our cherry-brick house where she began that new chapter, and through this framed photo that sits proudly on our front table, her gentle eyes watch over us. Beryl Maud McKenzie was and still is the quintessential matriarch. Thank you for taking that leap blindly, Grandma Mack. 

Place(s): Jamaica

– L.M.

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant