Clarendon centenarian talks love, commitment, heartache
Hope Taylor confesses that as a young child, she found it funny as her mom, Leanora Commock Taylor, would get up at daybreak to pray for the entire village and then utter the names of her 12 children one by one, getting emotional with each name.
Now a mother of six, she finds herself doing the same thing, realising the tremendous job the now-102-year-old Commock Taylor did in covering them.
In fact, there have been many lessons from the centenarian, many of which the family shared with The Gleaner recently as they celebrated her longevity and looked back at the good, the treasured and, at one point, the painful.
An ardent Christian, Commock Taylor grew her children along the same path she walked as that was the only way she knew.
“Mi grow up in church and den after having them, them have to follow my footsteps,” she shared with The Gleaner, recalling how they would attend Sunday school class before taking a seat “beside big people” with their Bibles.
In the nights, they would be back in church, and 69-year-old Taylor vividly recalls the intense prayer sessions.
Commock Taylor’s husband of more than 70 years, 96-year-old Zacchaeus, sat quietly and listening intently as his wife took a trip down memory lane.
She still recalls their first encounter.
“In church, we had a baptism and he was there. Mi siddung side a him and and him looking at me,” she said.
After asking whether he liked church and he replied in the affirmative, noticing Zacchaeus was still staring at her, she fired off another question.
“I said, ‘Why you looking at mi so?’ Him seh, ‘I love you’,” Commock Taylor recalled. “I said, “You love me? You have to put yourself in church and walk the ways that I walk.”
More than seven decades and 12 children (four now deceased) later, they are still together – although their journey got interrupted briefly.
Their marriage reflects much of the pragmatism that defines traditional marriage, particularly within the context of the conservative Christianity’s pride in sacrifice and suffering.
Husband left home
Zacchaeus had left the matrimonial home and had three other children with another woman, but the 69-year-old Hope said that her parents reconnected after she took them both to Canada, where she lived.
Commock Taylor said that chasing her husband out of the home was a dark time in her life.
“I never like it. No, man, because I wasn’t looking fi dat. ... I want to live a good life; I meet him in church,” she said.
Reminding him of their pledge before God, she told him to leave her alone if the other woman meant more to him, he should leave. He did exactly that.
A few nights later, Commock Taylor found herself lying in bed and questioning the Lord regarding her action in turning away her husband.
“Di mawning mi wake up mi go over [Palmer’s] Cross, mi see him siddung pon di step and mi seh, ‘A yuh mi come fah. Come on. Pick up yuh clothes and come’,” she recalled. “Him go in and pick up di clothes. Mi seh, ‘Come, I made a pledge wid you until death and you was once a man walking in church and you want to live this life, come home and put back yuhself in the hands of God and let us walk together’.”
However, the pain of betrayal still haunted her and her 96-year-old husband is still reeling from the bitter words exchanged during those years.
He still remembers her running him and telling him to go back to “Cross” as he mumbled that she is not talking the right truth.
Asked whether he is willing to apologise to her, he declined.
“No, sah, because she do mi more wickedness than weh mi do her,” the elderly man said, as Hope interjected, telling him to stop the “old story”.
Commock Taylor makes her way around using a walker, with arthritis in her knee, diabetes and hypertension her main complaints. However, she still enjoys dumpling, banana and salt mackerel as well as KFC meals.
Laughing, Hope recalled that the first time she bought a KFC meal for she mom, she said, “A who teach you fi cook dis? Mi want more!”
Although she might not agree with her mother’s decision to take back her father, Hope says she respects Commock Taylor for being committed to the union.
After she had taken them both to Canada, Hope said that she had no intention of sending her mom back to Jamaica, but she kept insisting that she wanted to “die in Jamaica and not Canada”.
After getting her wish and leaving her husband overseas, she soon began complaining about his remaining there until he, too, came back to the island.
“She loves him. She wants him around,” Hope acknowledged.