What is God asking you to give?
May 9, 2024
Friday May 10th: The Promise of Christ’s Presence
May 10, 2024

Love is priority for great-great-grandmother Mavis

By Lara Pickford-Gordon


On today’s Mother’s Day eighty-three-year-old Mavis Sylvester has attained the title of great-great-grandmother with the birth of her first great-great-grandchild at the end of last year. This matriarch, born and bred in the village of Paramin, thanks God for this privilege. She is the grandmother of 29, great-grandmother of 12 and great-great-grandmother of one.

Her own family started pre-independence in 1960 with the birth of her first child Miguel. She was 20 years and a junior accountant with a grocery located at Charlotte and Queen Street. Her 21-year-old husband, Lloyd, was a radio technician with a company. Sylvester said when she began having children, almost consecutively, she stopped working. Her nine children born between 1960 and 1972 are: Miguel, Ian, Arlene, Garth, Rawle, Sean, Geddes, Delano, and Kenton.

In an interview with The Catholic News, she spoke of a Catholic upbringing. Her family lived at ‘The Junction’ (Fatima Junction). Paramin RC, constructed in 1951, was next door and she walked to the school. Masses were held there on Sundays.

Sylvester said, “When I was much younger growing up, I always tell myself I would like to have three children but when I got married, I had no other choice. But to be honest with you, I happened to manage with it because of my parents because I lived next to my parents, and they were very supportive.”

Asked what she learned from her mother Augustin and father Method Boisselle about parenting, she stated: “They were very Catholic, to say your prayers. Every day she [her mother] would come across by me and say, ‘Did you teach the children to pray?’, ‘you all pray last night?’ and ‘going to church?’.” She added: “We born Catholic, and we had to maintain it.”

Sylvester remembers that though she was a married woman with children, she had to heed the advice of her parents in relation to raising the children. “They were very strict with me and my children; they don’t want to see them on the road and those sorts of things, so my children grew up inside,” she said. Her father had an estate of cocoa and fruits so there was no shortage of space for the children to play. Her family also had a shop and parlour in Paramin.

It was a time when members of the community looked out for children’s welfare. Sylvester said: “My children, if they out on the road and anybody from Paramin meet them, aged person, they will ask them, especially if they see the time ‘mummy know that you out here? Ok, allyuh better go home now.’ We grew up like that, and when they came home, they could not complain to tell me Peter or John or Mary bawl at them to go home”.

She was vigilant raising eight sons while living at ‘The Junction’, the busy thoroughfare in Paramin. “I was very strict with them; one or two used to ask me ‘mummy, you don’t like me?’ They find I am so stern, but I say, ‘I like you that is why I correcting you’ but thank God”.

Sylvester said she got her sons involved in Scouting and they took part in community cricket and football events. Her last son Kenton, with whom she is staying in Diamond Vale, attests to  her discipline but said everyone turned out well and have their own businesses. He called his mother “numero uno”.

She strove to instil independence in her children, just as her parents had taught her and her siblings. Sylvester said, “They grew up close and I always fight for them to maintain it, no matter they are all big and have their families. I always beg them to maintain the closeness.”  Her husband died in 1999 so has not seen how the family has flourished.

Sylvester became a grandmother at the age of 41, when her daughter had Ruben. He was 42 years on April 13. She became a great-grandmother when Ruben had a daughter, Jeashae. She is now 18 years. Another generation was added when Garth became a grandfather. Diamond, the daughter of his son Kirlon, had Keon. The baby was baptised in March. “I never told myself I would live to see that. I am happy and every day I am thanking the Lord; I never thought I would be in my eighties. I am happy about it, I feeling real good.”

Grandparents are known to spoil their grands, but she said, “I wouldn’t say spoil, but to me I would say pay more attention to them…I just wanted them to be on the right path, so I try to show them a lot of love. It is a lot of boys I have, grand, so I always try and show them a lot of love and explain them certain things.”

On Mother’s Day she will be relaxed. If any of her children or grandchildren see her in the kitchen helping with the meal, “is noise. Children, grandchildren everybody quarrelling ‘Granny, today is not your day to be in the kitchen, come from the kitchen’, so I just bow and walk out. Really it is nice, and I am happy to live to see that”.