Ilva Marjorie John; My Grandma

Eulogy of Ilva Marjorie John: My Grandma

Written and compiled by N’koma Monsegue


If tears could build a stairway and thoughts a memory lane
I’d walk right up to heaven and bring you home again.
Though Farewell words were spoken and I got time to say good-bye
You were gone in a very quick moment And only God knows why.

My heart’s still active in sadness And secret tears still flow
What it meant to lose you No one can ever know.
Now I know you want us To mourn for you no more
but To remember all the happy times, Life still has much in store.

Since you’ll never be forgotten I pledge to you today
A hallowed place within my heart Is where you’ll always stay.

I Knew you for a Moment but loved you for a lifetime.(Poet, Unknown)

I will miss you 


It is a great honour for me to be asked to stand here before you today; to lead the leave-taking of such a kind, warm, well liked and much loved lady.

So I invite you now to listen as our family, through me, pays tribute to her life and honours her memory.

Ilva, was a well read articulate lady, as many people have commented, she was an interesting lady to listen and talk to, someone who could understand and appreciate your personal point of view. Yet with no PhD was able to deliver to you such great philosophy.

Many of us gathered here today were proud to call her, their mother, their grandmother, their aunt and their friend. She was the epitome of motherhood as she mothered not only her own offspring but those of her family, neighbours and friends. This justified her fondly called names of “Mamine”, “Mammy John” and “Granny”. Vicariously, many experienced her nurturing skills through their relationships with Ilva’s own children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  

Ilva was very versatile in the area of home care, she could turn her hand to tasks that would leave most people totally perplexed, and she was always willing to help her family and friends with theirs; cooking, baking, washing, ironing and starching and childcare, just to name a few.  Nothing was too much trouble. A reliable, hard-working, kind and considerate lady she was.

Being mainly family oriented, Ilva had very few interests outside of her home and family circle, but she did love holidays, Easter and Christmas. Very steadfast in faith, she regarded these two periods as pinnacles of life. Always ensuring that whatever traditions are carried out and most important the attendance to services surrounding these time. Prayerful and faithful she was.

Ilva was not a materialistic person; she was more than contented with what she already had around her, her home and her family.

She was a friend to so many people and touched so many lives in so many different ways; I believe she answered the Lord’s call to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Trust me her saltiness was strong up to the last day.

Ilva’s integrity was never questioned; it was quite obvious to everyone that met her that she had something about her that was steadfast and true; her love for, her faith, her trust and her hope in the Lord. She had strong principles that she believed in and lived by. She had very high values and a strong sense of duty and lived to impart this type of understanding to her loved ones.

Ilva had a great sense of humour, she was extremely witty and incredibly sharp, and you had to come back with a very quick retort in order to avoid the occasional sting. How stunned were many after they experienced her sting. She was one of those very rare people that were able to talk intelligently and confidently to any person on any subject. Her knowledge of the world and life was almost legendary, whether you were nine, nineteen or ninety if you were privileged enough to be seated at the table or bedside with her, you could be sure of an interesting and lively conversation. A wonderful storyteller; she had a fantastic memory and could recall the smallest but significant details of her life with great clarity and then magically weave them into her story. Like her trek from Tacarigua to Belmont, Port of Spain after being left behind by the train; many, many years ago.

There was a focus of love and affection that radiated out and touched those of us who were privileged to know her. We all have many happy memories of Ilva and these we must hold dear in our hearts and cherish them, as she cherished us.

Ilva lived and enjoyed her life to the full, and made the most possible out of every single precious moment. She was a warm, loving, generous, compassionate, understanding mother and dear friend to you all. She could be serious when she needed to be and great fun when she didn’t.
Many people come and go in our lives, but very few make a worthwhile memorable impression.

Excerpt from The Dancing Cocoa, Running Rails Photo Project: Ilva Marjorie John,  97, Belmont.
Ilva Marjorie John’s parents had ten children. Her father worked at the Bonanza store time keeping and taking messages at Ross drugs. But his skill was as a blacksmith, he made coal pots, irons baking stoves and grid irons. “I would carry food for him in the evening cause he worked through the night…people would rent coal pots from him”
Ilva was an obedient child who liked to mimic her parents movements “I always behind my mother helping her in the kitchen and helping, my father plant in the yard”. In the plots in Belmont her family would plant corn, green peas, bodi, melongene and ground nuts ( peanuts).
Ilva attended The Methodist school in Belmont until the St Margaret’s School for Girls was completed. The former school had become over crowded, “the boys were in a tent in the back.”
At St Margaret’s discipline was the modus operandi: “the bell rang for silence, then you would march with your arms out and to the sound of a piano…you couldn’t enter the class room without saying good morning.” In the classroom, you were arranged by height.
After school Ilva would assist her grandmother with cooking on Bedford lane. Paying a penny for Jellit, snow-cone and Popsicle, they would run through the lanes of Belmont to the homes of relatives. On Sundays after Sunday school, she and her siblings would ride the tram around the Savannah for a penny. “They put a bench right at the top of Frederick street for the children to wait for the tram.”
Her sewing lessons began at her godmother’s house at age 12. “I pick up scrap (cloth) to make clothes for my dolly. “Her godmother was a seamstress and employed eight girls around a table on evenings. After helping her grandmother, she would go there to sew. She was a certified seamstress at age 16, making dresses for clients and costumes for her brothers’ band, The Mc Cleans. The band was well known playing all over including on the backs of trucks for carnival. Ilva still sews, making infant clothes and her famous pillows in her Belmont home.

A Beautiful Angel © Christopher Warner

A beautiful angel is all that is here
Saying O’Lord please leave me here
Not ready to leave but has to go
Wants to go back but God says no
Her children, Grandchildren,

family and friends
A meaningful life that suddenly ends
And angel is what she was meant to be
Now think of all that she can see
Watching over her family night and day
Saying I love you in her own special way
In the night we sleep and in the day we cry
While she watches us all from her star in the sky.

Words that Describe Her






















Christmas Eve 2013



2 thoughts on “Ilva Marjorie John; My Grandma

  1. We are fortunate to have the experiences that we have had with our grandmothers. I often wonder what my life would be like when my ‘hot mouth’ granny is gone. They are always our biggest fans, our most energetic cheerleader.

    Ms. Ilva did more than her fare share, so now it is time for her to rest and enjoy the rewards for the great life that she lived.

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