Horizon at Sandy Point

Monday, July 1, 2013

41 years

My favourite Tobago couple has been married 41 years today. Long-lived marriages are still an amazement to me. I always look close to see how they have survived and grown together. What of each now inhabits the other. What has the one given up to the couple. What has been gained. Always, it is a delicate - fragile even - tapestry that has been woven over the years. Any tensile strength could so easily fall apart if either party stops, or stops trying.

Last night, we had a celebratory dinner with Mary and Tony, married 41 years today. This means that they were married in 1972, when they were still in their early 20s, just after graduation in Canada. An inter-racial couple recognising each other across the divide of Canadian and Trini cultures. "We didn't see each other as race or ethnicity or colour," I remember Tony saying once.

"I think I could marry you," was what he had said to Mary.

70s couple! So cool.

Tony came home one evening in the early seventies, and with a flick of his wrist, tossed something small on the couch. "Check that!" he said. They met at the couch to unwrap the ring with diamonds - Mary's choice - and the rest as they say is history. Personal history is never mundane, and the words belie the feeling, the being, the living, from the soul's first stirrings towards the other, to what Mickey Nivelli calls, "soulmates."

Forty one years!
"We did a lot of liming in the first ten years," continues Tony. Calypso shows. Fetes. Late night limes. Moving between Trinidad and Canada - considering, deciding. Everything before Mauri was born in 1981. Then, they came to Trinidad "for good" in the early 80s. Mauri - he looked like Orphan Annie with an intense stare and a full head of loose curls - objected. But they came anyway, lured by the promise of an awakening age of the arts in the twin island independent nation, the new world waking up with Maurice Bishop and Trini promises of support, new education.

Mary - with psychology and nursing in her expertise - took up teaching. Tony was a founding member of the Banyan group, producing local television in Gayelle and later, Late Night Lime. He was the male lead in Suzanne and Hugh Robertson's (Sharc) "The Haunting of Avril" the feature film that was to follow Bim. Avril has not yet been completed or released in Trinidad.

By 1987, Mary and Tony - weary of the unkept promise of Trinidad - decided "to go and plant peas" in  Tobago. Their "peas" would be a school, maybe an art colony...  Lindsay was born in that summer. The school was modelled on a "one room" school house - primary level - with all students integrated as one learning group being taught through themes. Mary's school continues today downstairs of their home in Carnbee, where a music studio was also set up when Mauri's main interest emerged.

It took another ten years for Tony to get his break. This came in the form of an invitation to be a visiting  lecturer in Theatre, sponsored by a professor in the English department with an abiding interest in Trinidad Carnival. It's ironic that Tony made his mark in Trinity College (Hartford Connecticut) in order to survive in Trinidad, while Mary became the anchor to Trinbago.

Perhaps it does not look exactly as they envisaged their "school of the arts." But here's what it does look like: Tony has written and produced several plays, including Jean and Dinah, Lucky Diamond, Red House Fire! and Miss Miles. Mauri started the music studio. Lindsay dances in New York.

So many places where the road took them elsewhere. The way was not always clear, the journey seldom easy, sometimes painful. Forty-one years of perseverance later, there is joy and peace and harmony. Happy onward travel, Mary and Tony and Mauri and Lindsay!

Happy anniversary, cool Trinbago couple!
(Photos borrowed from facebook pages of Lindsay Hall and Mary Dena Hall)


  1. Replies
    1. Happy anniversary, Tony and Mary from Ashley, Lorna And Teak!!