A dream come true for MP’s mom, aged 89
LIBNAH “Miss Lin” Graham has realised another of her long-time dreams: She finally got the chance to sit in the House of Representatives and hear her son deliver his maiden presentation in the sectoral debate.
That moment arrived on Tuesday, May 25, payday for many workers across Jamaica, but a huge emotional jackpot won for her as her only living child, Member of Parliament for St Catherine North Western, and Opposition People’s National Party spokesman on commerce, science and technology, Hugh Graham gave his perspective on the areas under his column. Hugh won the seat over the Jamaica Labour Party’s Newton Amos in the September 2020 General Election.
“We are parishioners you know,” the Comfort Valley, St Mary-born reminded this writer as she, cane in hand, moved toward a thick orange sofa in her upper St Andrew living room on Thursday to mark the start of a 79-minute dialogue filled with anecdotes, facts, and insistence that belief in God was beyond debate.
Zooming in on the matter at hand that left her glowing last Tuesday, the older Graham said that it had not been her wish for Hugh, a Calabar High School old boy, to enter politics, but she embraced his move when it happened.
Interestingly, following her birth, her parents moved to nearby Top Leinster, where the political chant all her years growing up was for Jamaica Labour Party stalwarts Andrew “Charlie” Ross and his son Alva, also called Signie, who were virtually unstoppable in the constituency of St Mary Eastern and South Eastern for 40 years, from 1949 to 1989.
But by the time she touched 18 and moved to the Corporate Area where she would take up residence in areas like Grant’s Pen, Whitehall Avenue, and 100 Lane off Red Hills Road, her political outlook changed and she shifted her liking to the PNP, much to the chagrin of relatives in St Mary.
“If it was for me alone, Hugh wouldn’t go into politics…with all of the ‘bad name’ out there that people can get. But God put him into politics and will take him out of it when it is time. I am proud of him being in politics and I am so glad, so happy that I got the chance to go into Gordon House for the first time. Thank you Jesus! Mi live fi see mi son speak inna Parliament,” she said of the child whom she admitted to giving a beating only once.
“When I walked into Gordon House and sat down, I said ‘Massa God, thank you for helping me to go where I never go before.’ When mi sit down, mi say from mi a 18 years old me come a Kingston and St Andrew and never know this place. Thank God for Jesus. Me not a bright woman, but me beg God not to let my children come out as dunce people,” said Graham whose first child, a daughter, died at age 61. “God hear my prayer and the children turn out good, and they don’t turn them back on me. We live good. Hugh turns 60 this year. Lord, me son tun old man! Ha, ha ha,” she went on.
When May 2, 2022 comes Libnah Graham will mark 90 years but for her, she expects no excitement in the form of a party or related activities as she does not regard herself as that kind of person.
“I am not interested in celebrating my next birthday when I turn 90. I was born a simple person and raised a simple person, and I never kept company when I was young,” she stated.
A devout “born again” Christian going 60 years, Graham is a member of New United Prayer and Praise Church in St Andrew but her attendance at Sunday services has been restricted to three meetings in the last 14 months. She, however, follows services online.
The novel coronavirus, too, has curtailed her road activities as she would exercise by walking all over the neighbourhood.
“I have always been slim and trim by staying fit and eating good food, fresh foods – no mass production food,” she underscored.
Miss Lin does not sew as she did in former years but insists on cooking when she is in the mood. Her preparation and consumption of rice and peas, soup, and a practice that she refuses to give up – eating porridge (some say drink) – remain part of the regular routine.
“We have somebody here working and when me ready, me tell her that me wi cook today. Only mi knees is the problem but, thank God for Jesus, nobody has to do anything for me. All when the train run over you, you no dead from you believe in the name of Jesus,” she insisted.
The veteran Graham was never the type to go to dances, maybe turned off by an incident when she and four others walked from Constant Spring to Maxfield Avenue while in her twenties, and she became the subject of a jealous streak by one of the two men who accompanied her to the event, as he did not want her to dance with another man at the location.
She had to tell the jealous suitor “hol you corner”, and never went any place like that again unless she was in the company of her brother, Kerry.
Soon after, she got married to Rupert in 1959, but the union did not last long as there were things that she refused to put up with, one of them being his inability to keep his alcohol intake under control.
“I have enjoyed my life doing sewing, domestic work, and cooking. I am still an independent woman. I don’t beg or borrow and I am not in any need. Thank God for Hugh,” said the woman who has practically lived with her son all his life and has looked after his four children at stages of their growth.
One of her fond memories of yesteryear was working with a couple from Syria and in a short time being able to speak Arabic, as the wife could not communicate in English.
Miss Lin declared that she has had “no serious illness in my 89 years” and will continue to follow her own rules as far as staying well goes, which include avoiding bad company, which she has practised successfully all her life, continuing to speak the truth and resenting liars.
There was a time, too, when she would visit Hugh’s St Catherine constituency, even more frequently when he functioned solely as councillor for the Lluidas Vale Division in the St Catherine Parish Council, now Municipal Corporation. Although Hugh was elected MP last September, he, on the books, remains a member of the municipal corporation as no election for a successor has been held.
As a parting shot, Miss Lin insisted on urging those who were out of the loop to hop on the bus to glory: “If you don’t know God yet, try knowing him. He is too good for you not to know.”
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