It was an emotionally uplifting evening-one that ended with a prayer of gratitude to God. Earlier, homage was bestowed on three remarkable Caribbean individuals-Dr Lamuel Stanislaus, 91; Elmina Parris, 100; and Pearline Thomas-Sandy, 83. They had given decades of service to family and community-they themselves sustained by that ineffable energy. It was an regal evening-sharply Afrocentric, with rolling drums and narration. "Yesterday's Children," a concept that germinated five years ago-the brain child of renowned Brooklyn publicist and CEO of Mauby Media Services, Glenda Cadogan, finally bore fruit on an overcast Saturday evening in Brooklyn.
Cadogan viewed the undertaking as a "spiritual mandate," one that only she could facilitate. "I spoke to many people, even organisations about doing something for our elders. They all thought it was a great idea, but nothing really materialised," she said. But like the Grecian poet inspired by his daemon, Cadogan experienced that epiphanical moment. "All of a sudden the inspiration came. This was my work...my responsibility." Subliminal messages came-one following another-the path cleared, and the vision realised. "I knew exactly what I had to do, who I had to call...and as you can see, this was a collaborative effort." According to Cadogan, there existed an ideal-a noble intent that transcended the time and space of the event. "'Yesterday Children,' is about honour, gratitude, love, obedience, and unity," she recited. These were the words that elicited a climate of reflective quietude that evening.
"The programme was also about honouring the legacy of my mother, and the mothers and fathers of all those who were present and absent. Many of our mothers were home makers, but they were really more than that. They were nurses, accountants.. ..You name it." Cadogan also explored the sociological implications of holding such an event, identifying what she called "the principal causative factor for our fractured communities." She was passionate and incisive: "There is a preponderance of youth programmes. All that is good, but if the foundation is wobbly we have a problem." She articulated the "sanctity of the elders," frustrated that "our youths are oblivious of the sacredness of elders. She was appalled that young people would utter comments such as, "I don't want to live that old."
She attributed "our suffering" to this nonchalance-this matter-of-fact approach to an essential spiritual precept. "Honour thy father and thy mother so that your days be long," she intoned. "Honouring our elders is a form of healing for our young people. It is really healing from the roots. Our youth programmes will continue to have very marginal results if we ignore our elders." As planning for the event took form, Cadogan needed to conjure gift ideas that best reflected the selfless service and sacrifice of Dr Stanislaus, and Mmes Parris and Thomas-Sandy. What could have proven painstaking for the uninspired, became almost routine. The gift was imaginative as it was enduringly inspiring. The international Star Registry was contacted, and three stars were named after the honorees-copyrighted with precise stellar coordinates, allowing anyone to locate them via a telescope. Congratulatory letters and certificates were also issued.
Of her decision, Cadogan stated, "It was a timeless gesture." And in an effort to lend some tangibility to the concept of "elder veneration," the event also raised money for Helen Charles Senior Citizens Home in La Brea, Trinidad; Top Hill Senior Home in Caricou, and Uncle Eddies Nursing Home in Georgetown, Guyana. "I just felt that we had to go beyond the subliminal effect and do something very practical. This will only add to the perpetuity of the message," she ended.
Dr Glenville Ashby
New York correspondent
The Guardian Media Group