Horizon at Sandy Point

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Remembering Greg Page

Since I wrote this to remember Greg, I found these happy portraits that must have been taken by Ranji when we were in Miami in 2001, on our way to the Disney cruise. They are lovely photos that capture his spirit, his warmth and grace.

Photos of Greg Page, taken in 2001 by Ranji Ganase

I am rummaging through old family albums, photos dusty and faded. We didn't take photos back then. I am looking for the one that I know is there somewhere. I remember it so vividly. There has to be a photo of Greg and Leemoy's wedding day. And as I search, the mind reels back pulling and piecing together the threads of memory.

My Dad's sister Aunty Leemoy, Pamela Wong Chong, had travelled to Miami just months before - July? - to seek her fortune with her older sister whose husband was an independent importer-exporter. Uncle Sandy ran his business out of his camper van, and maybe he could use an administrative assistant. Leemoy, a qualified nurse, could do that until she found her feet. But before the year was through, Gregson Page came out of nowhere and swept her up to a life she could not have envisaged or planned.

It must have been November of that year when we received the invitation to the wedding. She asked me to be a bridesmaid alongside her Jamaican girlfriend Olive Chin. Which year was that, I wonder? Because I was "13 but looked like 16" - having shot up tall and lanky - I conclude it was 1964. The wedding would take place in December and my mother agreed to have my dress made before we arrived, a long sheath with a lace top.

December in Miami was cold for my tropical blood. The wedding reception would take place in Aunty Seemoy's home which was still seeing Christmas with the tree up. They would marry on the last day of the year - something about filing taxes in that year. There was wedding cake - a yellow sponge with marshmallow icing which Kathy and I tested from the back. No one noticed small finger digs in the icing; they were too preoccupied with other wedding matters. After the wedding, I remember a Miami modern cottage where they would live.

Uncle Greg was a quiet handsome man, over six feet tall. Next to him Leemoy was tiny. Mutt and Jeff I thought. She was a radiant bride, and he smiled a lot, silent mostly among this new Trini Chinese family in which the women talked fast and plenty and loudly, and laughed a lot. He doted on "Pam," as he would call her in his slow Kentucky drawl. It was clear whose voice would carry the weight but I came to respect his strong, well-mannered and respectful silences; his shrug or smile saying it all.

Greg loved Leemoy - Pam as he always called her - from the first, and beyond reason. I heard stories about his sleeping in a car sometimes in those months before they married: because he stayed late with her perhaps. By the time Wendy came along, their love was cemented, steadfast. I was named godmother for this lovely girl, my first godchild.

Who knows what turbulence rocked their marriage through the years, the need to find work, to earn to live, to be upwardly mobile, to provide for the growing family. Through it all Greg was calm, compliant, the peace-maker, qualities I admired; that I would project onto myself because we shared birthdays in the end of October. He would take me out with him inspecting lines for Florida Power and Light. We would talk about his job, where he was from, what I wanted to do "in college" and after. I didn't know. They suggested that I could "do well" to move to the USA.

In a flash, almost 50 years have gone by since the Miami wedding. Wendy, Raymond and Anthony have grown up. But for me, Leemoy and Greg were always the same: welcoming, happy to see us, wanting us to stay. That love which they shared in life continues even though Greg may no longer be here. It is unwavering, unflinching even to anger and irritation, steadfast and enduring. And this is what I will remember of Greg: his ready smile, his calm demeanour, his steadfastness, his loving kindness. Always.

I did find two photos taken at the time of the wedding. But they are of the bride and her bridesmaids. Self-effacing Greg is not there, but present. We see him in the happiness on Pam's face.

This was a polaroid photo taken in front of Seemoy's tree. Chinny (Olive Chin), Leemoy and me

Wedding day for Greg and Leemoy!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dear Gail,
    This is Wendy, now 45 years later. :)
    Thank you for your words. Those words that you spoke of describing my father reigned true even in his last days, breath in this body. He died with a smile on his face. A peaceful, steadfast face as he let go, journeying onward. My mom said to Dad "Don't forget to come back for me" and I bore witness to that love and sweetness that you spoke of. Thank you again for reminding me in your words because as Chris and I were reflecting the other night- what you see is only a part.... there is so much more. Especially when it comes to love. Unfortunately, I struggled with the other side of love, rage. That's what I struggled with and strived so hard to remedy... and now realize in my father's dying more than ever, how complex love is. Like it's my job to fix love, what hubris!
    Thank you dear God-mother for your steadfast presence in our lives. Although, much time passes in between contact, you are real in my life. The last time we really talked via e-mail, I was struggling w/the difficult decision to leave Miami. That's another story and it's still unfolding. Life is wonderful and I hope we can connect soon.
    The service for my dad in tomorrow evening starting at 6:00 pm. There will be a gun salute because of my father's time in the Army and his honorable discharge. Since my father passed, there has been a huge full moon looming over... even as we flew into Miami last night. I connect my father w/that moon.
    I love you!