Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 26th 2014 Contents B7
January 26, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
CONTINUES FROM PAGE B1
For most of them, their job was
to take care of the family.
Matelot had its treasures. Pem-
"Every morning, I would snatch
a towel and bathe in the river before
going to school. We were poor, but
growing up there was good...My
parents had a little cocoa and coffee
estate...We were free to move
around there as children, and we
used to dance in the cocoa trays,
"Going to the beach was great.
Near us the river and the sea joined
together, so we had river-bathing
and sea-bathing. It was remote,
and although my parents were
poor, there was always food on the
table, and we always had lots of
fruits, all kinds...we were happy,
"Our community was chiefly
Caribs. We had very few Africans,
and there were no Indians at all in
the community when I was grow-
My father s father was from
China, and my father was half-
Chinese. And my father married
an Afro-Carib woman. So I am a
mixture of that."
"We were brought up Catholic.
Going to church on a Sunday was
a must. You never missed church
unless you were sick.
"My mother was a very simple,
lovely person. She had 11 children
from two marriages. She was a
stickler for good manners, decency
and respect, and she taught us to
work. That carried us through life.
"I always had lots of friends from
school. We didn t have gates, but
I would carry my friends by the
gap at the front of the house, and
my mother would joke that I would
make her broke because I kept
bringing my schoolfriends home
and she would have to feed them!"
Thirst for learning
Mary Pemberton, however, had a
curiosity about the world, and a desire
to learn, which led her to leave Matelot
for the bright lights of Port-of-Spain.
"I entered the nursing profession at
19 on September 1, 1933. I went to Port-
of-Spain General Hospital to be trained
as a nurse. After seven years, I was qual-
ified as a state registered nurse, a cer-
tified midwife, and a district health vis-
itor and school nurse.
"At first I was very timid, because I
was not exposed to people...but soon,
mixing with the public, I became more
She worked as a nurse and midwife
from 1933-1974, until age 60, and then
after a ten-month break, left retirement
to work for another few years, retiring
finally in 1982. She has worked in
Matelot, Sangre Grande, Princes Town
The downside of being a midwife,
she said, was the demanding, erratic
hours. Even on Christmas Day, if a baby
were to be born, she d have to drop
everything and go to help.
One time, a desperate male visitor
asked her to help with a baby delivery
late one night. She alone had to walk
with this strange man from Grande Riv-
iere to Matelot, some seven miles away,
in the dead of night, through the forest,
with the man holding a flickering flam-
beaux which kept going out. One part
of the road through the forest was
infested with mapepire snakes, which
she says was frightening.
They left at 11 pm and arrived at 2.15
am: but just ten minutes before their
arrival, the baby was born all by him-
The best part of her job, Pemberton
said, was being able to help people. She
loved the satisfaction of helping mothers
through successful births. She s done
many other nursing duties, including
helping during surgeries. She admitted
she would often privately feel upset at
any leg or breast amputations, but would
do her duty as a nurse conscientiously,
in order to help the patients survive.
The love of her life
One of the high points of Mary Pem-
berton s life was getting married on
August 16, 1943, to Kenneth Christopher
Pemberton. Her husband was a super-
intendent in the Ministry of Works.
"We were married for 42 years, five
months and four days," she says crisply.
"It wasn t always so rosy, you know;
we had our ups and downs...but we
never gave up on each other, we stuck
with each other, and we kept our mar-
ried vows until death...he was a very
good father to the children."
No matter what the demands of her
job, for Pemberton, her family life was
Pemberton today remains an
extremely independent person, who
shares her own home with one of her
adult children and a visiting caregiver.
Her advice for a good life?
"I ll tell you what my mother told
me. If you have developed good man-
ners, respect, honesty and self-esteem,
then all the other things in life will fall
in place to make you a good person and
"Train children from young in the
fundamentals of life: let them know
that when they grow up, they will have
to earn a living. And remember, children
will follow your example."
A woman with Carib, Chinese, African roots
'My mother's values
carried us through life'
"Every morning, I would snatch a
towel and bathe in the river
before going to school. We were
poor, but growing up there was
good...My parents had a little
cocoa and coffee estate...We
were free to move around there
as children, and we used to
dance in the cocoa trays, you
---MARY PEMBERTON ON
GROWING UP IN MATELOT
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