Wed | Jan 26, 2022

Open Letter to my mom

Published:Monday | May 8, 2017 | 12:00 AMMarica Mitchell
Devene Sutherland and her mother, Rosalee Sutherland.
Merlyn Salmon (third left) surrounded by her children and grand-children.
Denise Dawkins and her mother, Diana Dawkins.
Contributed Photo Suzette Salmon and her mother Merlyn Salmon

Today, Mother's Day, we celebrate the strength, courage and love that mothers give every day. I have so much respect for the work that all women and mothers around the world do. It is beyond me how mothers manage to do so much for their family so effortlessly.

The moment I was given the gift of motherhood, I knew God's plans were ordained. I am a better mother because of my circumstances. I am a stronger mother because of my will. The love for my children has no limits, and I cherish every moment. Today, we celebrate three beautiful souls whose daughters, who are also mothers, share their respect, love and admiration through open letters.

-Merlyn Salmon (third left) surrounded by her children and grand-children

Dear Mom,

When I was a child, I was constantly reminded of how much I sounded, spoke and looked like you. I resisted, fought, and contradicted that truth. I didn't want to hear how much my hair, eyes or short stubby toes were yours.

Sometimes the very thing you resist becomes a reality. It stands in your face like a guest that doesn't know they've overstayed their welcome. The thought that I was my 'mother's child' terrified me.

Mommy, you were very predictable - get up, look after the kids, send them to school, clean the house, cook dinner, do homework with the kids (if you could help). You never made us 'miss' you like some other moms who went abroad.


I grew up envying children who had mothers abroad working to send toys, fancy clothes and all the frills. Feeling left out, I wondered why you were always home.

You showed so much interest in us; sewing our clothes, making sure we looked decent, instilled values and morals. It felt stifling at times.

Growing up in a six-sibling household had its pros and cons. Your five girls had natural hair, and though you did try pressing (hot comb) our hair, the occasional scars and burns due to our inability to sit still made it not worth doing. So, combing all that natural hair on a Sunday morning was a must. It didn't seem impossible or worth moaning or groaning about in my then youthful opinion. And why was everyone always dressed and waiting for you on a Sunday morning? You would be hurrying to grab a bite on the way to Sunday service.

Annoyed, we would sit in the van stewing and talking about your habitual lateness. Raising six children could not be that difficult!

Fast-forward 25 years. I am raising my own family - a boy and a girl. It takes lots of work and the patience of Job. The folly of youth and the wisdom of life experiences changed my outlook and admiration for you, Mom. I am the late one not just on Sundays, but every day.

I work from home to be with my children. I want to give my children what I got from my mother, and more. I was not raised a 'barrel child'. I am not a victim of a mother who went abroad, leaving their children to be raised by distant relatives or strangers. Mom, you sacrificed your life for all six children. You could have left us to pursue your dreams of becoming a nurse, but you chose us. You made a choice to care and nurture all of us. You gave us all you knew how to give, knowing your circumstances of being abandoned by your mother and never knowing your father.

Today I salute Merlyn Salmon, my loving mother. I am my mother's child. I am proud you are my mom.

- Suzette Salmon, Chicago, Illinois


In photo: Denise Dawkins and her mother, Diana Dawkins


Dear Phenomenal Mother,

My dear friend, mother, protector, adviser, confidante and mentor. I am grateful for this opportunity to express publicly how much I love and adore you.

I have a deep appreciation for the intensity of your love for me and so many other human beings.

Your love for others is unique; your unconditional love, the manner in which you love - even though it doesn't appear logical. You have always been supportive and your wisdom guides the mode of support. I really appreciate the manner in which you taught me invaluable lessons.

Do you remember when I put the hydrogen peroxide in my hair, not understanding the meaning of tint? You remained calm; I learnt to 'know and understand' before acting.

Do you remember when you came to Taylor Hall and put the box of groceries on your head because I was not moving fast enough? I learnt to be decisive.

Do you remember when I was with child and I no longer called and said, "Mummy, mi transact?" I learnt to be courageous.

Do you remember when during my failures you asked, "Wey yuh ah bawl fah, don't even say the word but spell it, T-I-M-E?" I learnt the value of forgiveness of self and others, as well as patience.

When I took the medication after you warned me not to, but I told you the concentration was reduced so I would be OK, and I got so sick, you had to take me to the hospital. I learnt to love and support even when the advice is rejected.




When I say "Hi, mummy" and your response is "Hi, Pammy," I learnt that in all relationships there must be times of laughter.

I am yet to understand the mechanism that you use to always know what is happening with me without me uttering a single word. It is remarkable the way that we resolve any disagreement within five minutes.

My love for you intensifies when you defend me, but most importantly, when I see how protective you are of your grandson. It is joyful yet hilarious the way you handle him with such care.

I am amazed by the support that you give to others; how selfless and compassionate you are. The epitome of kindness is the model that you exhibit daily. You have helped and continue to be a tower of strength for so many. So many people are drawn to you because you are just so sweet and kind.

Diana Dawkins, I love you more than I can find adjectives to describe. You are my wonderful, poised mother, my elegant queen. I appreciate you and I am wishing you a happy Mother's Day.

Je t'aime!

- Denise Dawkins

In photo: Devene Sutherland and her mother, Rosalee Sutherland.


Dear Mama Dukes,

I want to say how grateful and thankful I am to have you - Rosalee Sutherland, aka 'Mama Dukes', as my mother.

I would not have been the mother I am today, and the woman that I've become, had it not been for you. You saw potential in me when I doubted myself.

The type of mother that the Almighty gave me was a radical, praying woman who prayed for me when I felt hopeless. You uplifted every moral fibre in me when I chose to shun it. You loved me even when I found it absolutely impossible to love myself. You instilled wisdom and purpose in me as a child growing up until this very day. My life has been filled with so many tragic experiences and unfortunate events, and without you, I don't think I would have been able to amplify myself and be moulded into a woman of God. I am humbled and blessed to have you as a mother.




From my recollection, at the tender age of six, I would watch you countless days and nights around your sewing machine. You sewed from drapes to pajamas for my brother and I, and there wasn't anything you wouldn't try to sew with the Singer machine you owned. Funny enough, when you enrolled me into Westwood High School for Girls, you wanted me to do clothing, textile and the arts, and I was so upset!

I now can see the purpose and the potential you saw in me making and drawing clothing for my doll. I now have my own small business on the side which requires me to sew head-pieces, and all of this started because of you pushing me beyond my comfort zone.

But what I truly hold dear to my heart and will remain forever grateful for was the support you provided while I was attending university. Countless times I wanted to throw in the towel and focus primarily on raising my son, but being the woman you are, you reassured me. Night after night you stayed up with me, cheering me on and telling me how proud you are of me. Those sleepless nights paid off as I am now a certified teacher.

You are the strongest woman I know, full of so much love and inspiration, and I am incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity all these years to be your daughter. I will always love you, Mama Dukes!

- Devene Sutherland