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My Mother

Tributes by the Children

Tribute By Ann       Tribute By Barrington




I Celebrate My Mother

By Ann Marie Albury (daughter), May 10, 2015



Today I celebrate my mother.  As the world celebrates Mother’s Day through all the hyped commercialization that for me obliterates the true value of our constant appreciate for our mothers…..I, as I have always done,  choose to celebrate through the simple things, a lifetime of consistent thoughts and gestures that showed the depth of our love for each other.

Sleep evaded me last night as I cried, smiled and even laughed as I reminisced on the gift of the Mother that God orchestrated for my siblings and me to share.  Mary Elizabeth Catalyn Brennen was not an ordinary woman, a limited edition indeed!

For the first time, since her death I sit and write my tribute to a woman worthy of praise--my mother!

Her Heart: The love that she showed us as children and adults was unfathomably extraordinary.  Her love was exemplary to the love she believed from God.  She accepted the promise of His abiding presence in all our lives even when we fall and hurt ourselves.  As a mother she demonstrated this love as she remained beside us when we fell, picked us up if necessary, carried us when necessary, cried when we cried, and if possible tried to heal us.  As the truth of God’s love in his promise; he promised that he will be with us always-so was my mother and the love she offered.   

Her Mind: She was intelligent and as a mother, a teacher in the classroom or an administrator, you knew she would have all her facts together, and if she did not know she showed how by example to find them, through research.    She often told us of her mother, our grandmother, whom we came to know, was not educated, however, her mother made sure her children, (my mom and uncles) received the opportunities that she was not afforded.  My mother knew that even though she received far more than her mother did, she was willing to sacrifice even more for her children to go further than she did.  We were going to go to college. 

This seed of possibility and preparation became a reality as Mommy embraced the idea that she had to nurture not only the hearts of her children but also their minds. The avenue she sought to do this was through encouraging us to read, read, read.  I can remember so vividly, receiving $2 or $3 every Friday most of the times or sometimes alternative weeks; to walk to United Book Store in Palmdale, or The Christian Book Store on Shirley Street to purchase a book to read for that week.  My siblings and I would walk there with great excitement in our hearts because we too had accepted her premise that once you can read there are no limits to where you can go and who you can become.   Even in our adulthood, we remain avid readers.  The feeling of anticipation and excitement that I got then when I bought a new book, remains with me today as I seek to enlighten my mind with so much about the world around me.  Wherever I go around the world I feel like a child in a candy store when I enter a bookstore and now experience it through the world of technology-Kindle.  A student asked me last week, “Ms Albury, how many new books are you reading now?  Every class you refer to a new title you are reading.”  This was lovingly nurtured by my mother.

Another extraordinary opportunity my mother gave me was to have pen pals.  Before I went to college I had “visited” more than 50 countries around the world through corresponding with people from places like, Malaysia, Nigeria, Uganda, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and many, many other places.    She encouraged us to frequently write our pen pals and to this day I often wonder how she afforded all those stamps.  But through this experience she fostered I came to appreciate the art of writing, but more importantly, the diversity of people and cultures that touched my life through correspondence.

Her Hands:  Mary Elizabeth was a talented, creative mother.  She was the family seamstress and taught us all how to sew.  She never, never accepted mediocre work from us.  It could look right to you, but if it was not done in the correct manner, be assured you were going to pull out every stitch and start all over again.  We had no surges to complete finishing work on the inside of the garment, but my mother taught us how to do finished work all the same in her unconventional style.   Every dress, blouse, and skirt that I wore while attending college was sewn by me under the tutelage of my mother.   My mother taught me how to be proud of anything my hands created with the principle that the product will be a reflection of who I am…my character. 

I can also remember all of us assisting her in making many charts for the classroom, and activities for her children to learn math.  Nothing was bought from the store for the classroom.  Everything was handmade.  She did not like idle hands, so we often made crafts at home during summer months to constructively occupy our time.

Her culinary skills, especially as a vegetarian cook, was phenomenal.  As the smallest and youngest of the crew, and due to childhood illness, I was the chosen vessel to remain by my mother’s side, and of course that meant a lot of hours in the kitchen.   The knowledge and love for cooking and entertaining came from mommy’s exemplary modeling of this art.   We would cook, and cook.  Many, invited and uninvited came by our home to eat at our dinner table.

Her Smile & Laugh:  My mother had a beautiful smile that she wore hourly.  She was always spirited and cheerful.  There was always music in her voice as she greeted people.   And oh, to hear her really laugh!  What joy!  She was not an actor or playwright like her brother, James Catalyn, who made many laugh through his plays.   However, I can assure you, the stage she had within immediate reach-home, school or church-she could execute a good prank, or do something creative in her presentations/lessons to bring everyone present alive.

Her Faithfulness: My mother demonstrated faithfulness to us literally every day.  She was as constant as the North Star.   In earlier years, with growing children on our own, we all knew we did not have to cook on Thursdays.  Mommy would cook the biggest pot of soup, be it pumpkin, okra, lentil, or pigeon pea soup with dumpling.   We knew there would be enough for all to have a “belly full.”   Her devotion to her children, grandchildren and friends, in her senior years; with her limited mobility transitioned to her telephone calls.   She called every day, sometimes twice a day.  She found herself in a place where she could not do for us as she would have in her earlier days.  Thus, she elevated her presence and encouragement through words and the use of the telephone.  I cannot express what strength this gave me during my very dark days in a valley in my life. 

Her Graciousness: Mommy, for me, was the epitome of graciousness. Her kindness and warm courtesy and ability to welcome everyone, even strangers with this spirit was a gift.  She was also very frank with her words but with the smoothest tact and propriety.  She acquired the art also of responding to any insult with gracious humor.   Many can speak of her stern but merciful and compassionate spirit.   The crowning of this spirit that I witnessed over and over was her elegance and good taste, especially in her choice of words.  The text we often heard her quote: “Words fitly spoke are like apples of gold and pictures of silver.”     During Mommy’s illness I witnessed this spirit remain, in spite of her pain and discomfort.  I recall one day the caregiver handed my father the tray with the food to feed her.  He sat in the chair next to Mommy’s bed making ready to feed her.  Napkin in place, food in spoon, Daddy proceeded to put the spoon to her mouth.  However, my mother looked and looked; a look that we know brings forth wisdom and chastisement.  Finally she spoke looking directly at my father:  “You did not tell her thank you!”  Although her mind was beginning to be touched by the ravages of Alzheimer’s, she did not forget the simple courtesies of her lifetime.  I witnessed this consistently throughout her ailing days, no matter what was done for her she would echo, “Thank you,”  “That’s so kind of you”   She was gracious up to her death.

Mommy is not here today, and although my heart is sad because I miss her so much, it is filled with enormous gratitude.  There are so many gifts she gave me. But one of the greatest is not anything that I can do with my hands, but rather with my heart.  Mommy always looked for and saw the best in any situation or person.   She taught me the value of touching another life, leaving them a better person because of our encounter and the value of seeking life’s lessons….those lessons to be learned from it.   This has become my life’s mantra. May my love, all that I can accomplish with my hands and my mind, my faithfulness, my sense of humor, and my graciousness touch as many lives as my mother.  In essences she taught me unconditional love and acceptance.

Mommy offered all she had within.   She gave all of herself to teach us as a mother and she completed her task with distinction to the very, very end.  Mommy knew of my love and appreciation for her.  I never failed to tell her, “I love you!”    And although today I can no longer say it for her to hear, her love remains within my heart and my spirit. 





My Dearest Mother and Me

By Barrington H. Brennen (son), January 14, 2015



Today, I dedicate this column to my dearest Mother, Mary Elizabeth Catalyn Brennen who died on January 7, 2015, at the age of 86. She impacted my life greatly. As an educator, she also influenced and molded the lives of countless Bahamian citizens.

My mother was married to Alfred Brennen for over 63 years. Interestingly, they were married on July 18, 1951 at Ebenezer Methodist Church, Shirley Street, by a pastor with an unusual name: Rev. Lovelock, a native of Canada. He certainly did lock them together and threw away the key. This marriage yielded four children, and I am the only son. What is so special to me is that my dearest mother treated me, the only boy, the same way she did her three daughters. The skills she taught her daughters, she taught me also. Curfews and social privileges were no different among us. I did not have special or extended privileges because I was a boy. We all had to come home the same time.

I could never forget the day Mom called me to sit beside her at the Singer sewing machine. That was the first day of many days she began patiently teaching me the different kinds of stitches, how to hem, put on buttons, install a zipper, knit, pom-pom, thread a sewing machine, etc. She would lovingly show me the chain stitch, straight stitch, underhand stitch, and overhand stitch. I am happy she did that. She taught me that a man need not depend on a woman to do simple things or anything if he has the skill to do it. She taught me that I must not treat my wife as a maid by demanding that she do things for me. Today, although I am not able to truly craft a dress or pair of pants, I am really good at making adjustments and mending. In fact, at times I am my wife’s chief consultant when she makes dresses. Thanks to my dearest mother. I have never made Annick feel that she was required to do something for me simply because she was a woman. Thanks to my dearest mother, Mary.

I acquired the paper art skills from my mother. She loved decorating anything. She not only decorated classroom walls, but books and fabrics. She was magnificent.

How can I forget her culinary skills? When it comes to cooking and baking, all the children were “required” to cook and bake. Using an ancient-of-days kerosene old stove and a top-of-the-stove portable baking oven, Mother taught me and my sisters how to make tasty meals, cakes, breads, and her famous Johnny and Bennie cakes. Oh, I cannot leave out the guava and raisin duffs. By the time I was in my early teens, my treat was to cook breakfast every Sunday morning for the entire family. The cottage-cheese salads garnished with diced apples and raisins, grilled cheese sliced bread, pancakes, scrambled eggs, etc, were some of my specialties.

We were all vegetarians and ironically, I did not like peas and beans. Mother knew the nutritional value of peas and beans and got me to eat them by making peas and beans patties and pancakes. They were delicious. Today I love peas and beans. They are like candy to me. That’s a creative mother. Her great cooking and creativity in the kitchen led her to become a much-demanded caterer at many weddings and social functions. As children we would stay up late at nights delicately cutting the dark brown edges off each slice of bread. She taught us that gourmet sandwiches were not made with the bread edges on them. I cannot leave out the Saturday night church socials and the corn fritters, corn dogs, and “veggie conch” salad; all her creations. Summer youth camp leaders demanded her presence in the camp kitchen every year for decades. As camp matron, she would lovingly get up in the early morning hours to cook breakfast, with the help of her team, for almost 200 campers. This was all a labor love.

What was most exiting to me as a young child was when I first saw my mother and father kiss on the lips. Wow! That was special. In fact I jumped for joy as though I was saying “do it again mom and dad.” That was my first lesson in sex education. My mother and father were very concerned that her children received the proper knowledge about sex, love, and social life. Young men who were interested in having a relationship with my sisters were not turned off, but were instead guided by my parents. My dearest mother would tell us all that our friends could come to visit us at the home, but they had to come inside the house to talk with us. There was to be no lingering in the streets or around the corners of the house. When we went to social events we were advised to remain with the crowd. Do not sneak around dark corners. We were to protect our own dignity by keeping “everything in the light.” As a result of that I developed a philosophy that governed my life as a young man and still does today in a real sense. Here it is: If I could not do something in my parents’ presence, I could not do it behind their backs. That included kissing a girl. Perhaps that is why I never kissed one until I met my wife, Annick.

As you can see, sex education began very early in the Brennen family. My mother and father held nothing back from us. We had long discussion sessions about sex, boyfriend, and girlfriend matters. Most interestingly, my dearest mother kept her contraceptive in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom for years. She was waiting for the right time to talk with us about sex by showing us the diaphragm she used as a contraceptive. Of course, we asked questions. Yes, it was a stimulating discussion. More importantly, she taught us it was better to wait until after you say “I do” before you engaged in sexual intercourse.

My dearest mother understood how “puppy love” worked in the heads of little children. When I was five years old, I asked my first grade teacher (more than 25 years older) to marry me. I was “in love” with her. I begged her to wait for me when I get older so we could get married. I would sneak under her desk and kiss her feet. I would hide behind the door after class to wait for her and rush to her to help her take her books to the car. My mother never condemned or criticized my “love affair” with Miss Blake, a native of Jamaica. She understood how tiny little hearts of boys work when it comes to love. My dearest mother would smile and sometimes even went along with the “affair.” It is so special to recall. She did not condemn me and say words like “shut up you stupid boy” or “that’s a silly thing to say.” Her responses were always sensitive and understanding. That’s a great mother. She knew I would grow out of it.

We were so open in our family about love and relationships, that my parents knew every female I had a crush, especially Mother. When I was in Jamaica studying at Northern Caribbean University, I would write long epistles to Mother about any relationship, romantic or casual, I had with females.

She was the best Grade 1 teacher in The Bahamas for decades. She was patient, caring, understanding, and motherly to every child in her classroom. The child who could not read well would be inspired to read because of my dearest mother’s genuine interest in making sure that every child succeeds. She would take the time, with crafted phonic and word cards created by her own hands, to unwearyingly tutor any child who needed help. The child who fell and bruised her knee was quickly nursed by my mother’s tender hands. She was the self-made campus nurse. Alcohol or mercurochrome was rubbed under Band-Aids or gauzes on the bruised skin of countless students. If you wanted your pain to go away, just let “Mrs. Brennen treat it for you.”

These are fond memories of my dearest mother. Time and space would not allow me to fully express the impact she had on me, my sisters, and countless citizens of our country. “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate" (Proverbs 31).

Send your questions or comments to or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002