Culture

Growing Up Like A Jamaican – Letters From My Grandparents

Written by Dahlia Welsh

My maternal grandparents Stafford ‘Doctor’ Samuels and Lucy ‘Ms. Ella’ Samuels were quite the pair. Although they’ve gone home I still lovingly refer to them as Mr. Spaghetti and Ms. Meatball because grandpa was 6’5” and grandma barely cleared 5 feet.

After “How To Raise Your Child Like A Jamaican” was published I naturally thought, what’s next? Well, when grandpa passed away last year I came across a stack of letters that they had written to me a couple of them are undated and they span a decade. As you will see my grandparents’ needs were simple but their words gave me insight into the lives they were living thousands of miles away.

You should know that neither of my grandparents could read nor write so they depended on the goodwill of others to write the letters as they dictated. Actually, grandpa could sign his name and identify some letters and numbers. I carry Ms. Ella’s Jamaica National Identity Card in my wallet – electoral no. 0282565 and where someone wrote: ‘her mark’ she signed an ‘x’. Anytime I think a goal is insurmountable I think of my granny and her little ‘x’. 

My grandparents were staunch Christians so every letter opens and closes with a prayer. And so that you know who is referenced in this letter, Sophia is my oldest sister and Alecia (Lecia) is the middle sister. I really hope you enjoy reading the letters, I hope they bring a smile to your face – but wait have you called your grandparents today?

Bless up!
Dahlia

P.O. Box XXX
Black River P.O.
St. Elizabeth
(undated)

Dear Dahlia,

            Let me greet you in the name of the Lord. This is just a few lines to let you know that I have received your card. We are glad to hear from you and we thank you for what you are doing for us.

            Your grandma is not too bad now. She can move around. Tell Sophia & Lecia that I will send them a letter soon. Please tell your mother that I am asking you for two dressing trousers, waist 43”, length 47”. Your grandma says she is longing to see you and also myself. Try and make it the earliest date you can.

            May the Lord richly bless and pilot you in your going & coming.

Your same
Grandpa & Grandma

About the author

Dahlia Welsh