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Tribute to Marcia “Rossie” Providence

Tribute to Marcia “Rossie” Providence


by Adaiah Providence-Culzac Fri Jan 11, 2013

Marcia Providence was a vendor of many years under the former Banana Growers’ Association building, Upper Sharpe Street. She passed away on December 27, 2012. The telephone kept ringing, but there was no answer. It didn’t cross my mind that, over the Yuletide season, my aunt had been called “home”. The instant shock on hearing the news that she left so suddenly, without a warning, still squeezes me during my restless, sleepless nights. My pain is transfixed, not only on the future I wanted to share with an aunt who had given much to me, but on the present, her two loving children, Aaliya and Elliot Providence.

You should have seen her. She was a very simple woman who was not troubled by the demands of an ever-increasing materialistic world. I remember as a child, watching and sitting alongside her, selling newspapers and other goods in her tray under the former Banana Growers’ Association building. However, she was not just a vendor in its singular meaning. She often traded her hard-working nature and independent skills at the port, whether it was marking goods for export when the Windward Lines operated or helping the guys off-load containers. One day, I saw her tray unattended, only in a flash to see her alighting from a truck moving goods to a local shipping office. My own formative years were spent plying this trade with her. I learnt how to work hard, selling newspapers on a Friday morning before class, spraying banana boxes at the wharf for export, pushing the trolley to stock up on snacks or drinks for the ice-box and running similar errands. She opened my first bank account that was mistakenly re-activated recently, as if to remind me that our bond exists beyond death.{{more}}

She was an “Aunty of Auntys”. I remember the first time I travelled as a child with her. I was no older than six years old and even before her death, I always cherished the fun times and little scenes of happiness that were pressed in my memory. It was easy to have mistaken her for my mum when I was a kid and even though her role had changed from its maternal inclination, as I became an adult, I entrusted her with all my personal matters. Our relationship was not just familial, but of a friendship that I cherished. She was the first ear for all my dreams and plans. The spot where she sold for over thirty years was our meeting place, sitting on the bench discussing education, politics, sports and other matters of general life. Now residing overseas, it was the telephone or email that bore our last moments.

Hers is the first death that I have experienced in my family and the first time that I have cried for someone other than myself. This unflinching feeling is indescribable and I have so many questions. I know that her passing would have greeted our entire family, her associates, customers, especially those persons who would religiously depend on her for supplying their weekly newspapers or daily snacks, in a similar resignation of grief. It is impossible to number the lives she has blessed, from the stranger that passed under the gallery seeking direction or information, to the men and women seeking the results of their lottery tickets, or the errands provided for the businesses in the area. What is certain is that the “spot” which she occupied, like my grandmother before her, will forever be a place filled with the memory of two giant women of simple disposition. It signifies literally and figuratively a “spot” of rest and reflection before climbing life’s hills and mountains situated at the foot of Long Wall and Sharpe Street.

I think of how I can honour her memory, to safeguard that quiet heritage she was building for her two children. No doubt, we all have to play our part in looking after Aaliyah and Zekiel, for this was her daily mission. Her life’s value and most sacred wealth was motherhood. The community of Long Wall and surrounding areas would particularly have seen the real Marcia “Rossie” Providence. They would have seen the woman who rose early in the morning to ply her trade and return late at nights. Instead of resting on the weekends, she would pick away at hard rocks surrounding her home to make life comfortable for her family. They would have seen a woman who gave a gift of education to her children and unmeasured love. Behind closed doors, she was a woman who liked watching DVDs to quench the tiring darts in her feet and hands. She liked to have the good conversation, with a guarded interest in music and new trends, so as to leave behind the daily economic trappings and political discontentment.

Outside or inside, you would have just seen my “Aunty Rossie” and now that she has fought a good fight, run a good leg and passed the baton over to you and me, let us build new and lasting legacies, remembering those who have gone before us and preparing well for those to come after.

May grace and peace be with us all!