A Tribute to My Mother


In the lush hills of Hanover, Jamaica, in the village of Maryland and on the Atkinson homestead known as “Cottage” a baby girl was born in 1899 to Thomas Samuel Atkinson and his wife, Clementina Bucknor. They named the baby Mabel Tilora. As an infant she was baptized in the Maryland Presbyterian Church. Later she attended Maryland Elementary School. Although she was exceptionally gifted she lacked any opportunity to further her education. A huge setback for her was that at an early age, her mother Clementina passed away and she had to assume the responsibilities for caring for her father and eleven brothers. Her older sister who was married also died leaving an infant child, Joanna Mahala. The lot befell on Mabel (popularly known then as “Aunt May”) not only to take care of her niece but to raise her as her own child. Such obstacles did not prevent her from being active in the church and community.
Aunt May produced children of her own, namely Walbert Gladstone (Bertie), Myrtle May, Ethelred Leicester, Windsor Edward and Rupert Glen-Arthur (Bob). She always stressed to her children the value of education and although she herself lost out on the opportunity for advancement, the children did her proud attaining to the utmost, according to their abilities and circumstances. (I must say here that the dream of most Jamaican parents is to see their children achieve and excel in higher education.) This philosophy has certainly paid off in our family.
Aunt May was one of the kindest and most generous women I have known. She was always looking out for the interest of others even to the point of denying herself. She was always taking in poor and disadvantaged children, sometimes even adults, providing them with food and shelter, even with her meager resources. I remember that children from far who attend Maryland School would stop by and receive a warm meal before they continue on the journey home. Many village children were always visiting our house which they called “Big Yard”. ¬†We were not the poorest, but we shared and were blessed for it in many ways.
Aunt May was widely read. She was very deeply religious, got down on her knees and brought her children, relatives and the rest of the world to the throne of grace every night. She was very resourceful and worked very hard to keep us in school even to the point of reading the “riot act” to us if she felt the belly ache or not feeling well, or being late finishing ones chores was an excuse not to go to school. The church was an integral part of her life. She was devoted Sunday school teacher and Bible Class leader.
Mable Tilora Atkinson worked very hard in her life. In May 1978, she became very tired in and went home to glory. A service of Memorial was held at Greendale United Church, Spanish Town and she was laid to rest at Dovecott Memorial Gardens, Spanish Town, Jamaica.