My Mother (Theodora Victorine Gilkes)

I can only remember my mother for a few years. She died before I was seven years old. But the little I do recall of her was that she was beautiful, and a devoted parent.

She was Eurasian. Her father, I was told, was an Indian, from India, who arrived in British Guiana on one of the several ships which brought indentured workers from that sub-continent. this was the policy of replacing labor on the sugar plantations, following the abolition of slavery, as the freed slaves simply refused to work for their former masters any more. This maternal grandfather was bi-lingual, and acted as interpreter for the laborers who came to work for the English owners of the plantations. He married into one of the families from England, and had two children, a boy, Frederick, and my mother, Theodora Victorine.

My mother was my father’s second wife, and I here mention the fact for the very good reason that some time after my mother died, one of the children of my fathers first marriage - my half-sister - played a very important part in my upbringing during the most impressionable years of my life.

As a member of the Salvation Army, my mother was one of its staunchest supporters, and I was often taken to the Central Hall in Alexander Street, just around the corner from our home in Charlotte Street. There is not a great deal more I can remember about my dear mother. She died at the age of thirty-three, leaving six children. I have already enumerated Jack, Edward, May and myself in a previous chapter on early memories. Two other children were born after me, namely a sister, Edna and a brother, Frank. Frank was a baby of six tender months at the time of her demise.

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