Bruce Golding – tremendous family man
Bruce Golding’s family life has invariably been in the closet. But on Monday, December 5, the closet doors were flung wide open by his wife, children, and grandchildren, who conspired and pressured him to have them hold a 75th birthday dinner for them.
It was his platinum jubilee, and they were not going to relent. So he acquiesced. The dinner took place at the home of Glen and Marva Christian, and it seemed to be a smashing success. His wife, Lorna, son Steven, and daughters Sherene and Ann-Merita, six grandchildren, and brothers Trevor and Tony were there to help the reluctant and “stubborn” former prime minister celebrate this significant personal milestone.
In one of her remarks, compere for the evening, Emprezz Golding, his daughter-in-law, spoke about him only in superlatives, and the accolades, praises, honours, gratitude, and graciousness spewed like the ‘coloured’ water jetting in arches from the pool in the background. His children let it all out – the love and respect that they have for the man who has been married to their mother for over 50 years.
Sherene, the oldest, was at the microphone first and started out by telling her father that anytime one of them was saying how much he had meant to them it was “very emotional”. Then she turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, thank you, thank you for choosing well, and not just well for yourself, but well for us … . We have had an excellent father, not just excellent in terms of what he has taught us, but the examples he has set for us and the deliberate, the intentional, way in which he has taught us.”
She recalled the first car her father bought her, and while he was installing a stereo system, Pearnel Charles exhorted him to go find a “little man” to do same. Golding’s response was that she was not going to remember “a little man” doing the job. Her general message was that her father was always there for them without being asked. He was there to help them correct their mistakes, so he should not be thinking about leaving anytime soon, for there might be more mistakes. “Empowered we are, empowered we feel because of Dad,” she said.
In her emotional-laden presentation, Ann-Merita echoed Sherene’s sentiments of their father always being there for them and that she got to spend much of the time with her father when he was not at the height of his political career. He was her student politics campaign manager from prep school to college, and she recalled instances, like when he took her Devon House ice cream every Sunday while she was boarding at St Hilda’s High School, that she would never forget.
After quelling the emotional outpouring, Steven Golding was terse. He recalled when his father lost the general elections of 1989. At school the following day, a boy was deriding him for his father crying on national television. “And being a 13-year-old boy I felt I had to defend my father’s honour,” he recalled.
Earlier, Prime Minister Andrew Holness had referenced that same moment, saying how it had inspired his political ambitions, to which Stephen said, with much dry humour, “This is the first time I am hearing somebody confirming that he was in fact crying on TV. And if the PM were still here, a might affi knock him out tuh.”
He then segued into an adult joke about three prime ministers at a birthday party. Holness had left by then to “rest for an overseas trip”. Former Prime Minister P. J. Patterson, and former president of the People’s National Party Dr Peter Phillips and his wife Sandra Minott Phillips were also in attendance.
Lorna Golding did not address the gathering, but when Family and Religion approached her to get her thoughts, she was quick to say, “He is everything, and all the lovely things that have been said about him … He is a family man. Oh Lord! that is tremendous, a tremendous family man.”
Yet when pressed to say exactly why she put up with him for “50-odd” years, Golding did not hold back. She smiled and said, “He doesn’t demand much at all, and he gives a lot. He’s easy to deal with … I just wish for him a long, long, long life, and I want to be around for him at least 25 years more.”
In his response, which was riddled with humorous personal anecdotes, and other things, Bruce Golding gave God thanks for his children, with whom he said he lives like “brothers and sisters” because he sometimes forgets how old he is. “They are wonderful,” he said, “And I am proud of them.”
He also gave thanks for his brothers, Tony and Trevor, with whom he said he shared an “unbreakable bond”. “We are like three peas in a pod, and we have been like that all our lives,” he told his rapt audience. In his brief tribute, Trevor said, “I want to say how proud we are of you and your accomplishments.”