ALL WHO were touched by the very exemplary life she lived, her passion for loving and caring for others –across political, cultural, race and religious boundaries — would share the sense of loss with the passing on Thursday evening of Phyllis Carter.
Ailing for sometime, the widow of that internationally recognised poet laureate of the Greater Caribbean region, Martin Carter, died at the Mount Hope Hospital in Trinidad. She was 77.
In a brief telephone comment from Suriname, where he was participating in the CARICOM Summit on Youth Development, Guyana’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr Frank Anthony, told the Sunday Chronicle yesterday:
“Her passing is cause for deep sadness. It was my privilege to have known her personally, and to benefit from her valuable insights about her husband; her concept of family; and the deep friendship she had shared for many years with our late President Janet Jagan.
“It is difficult not to remember the roles of Phyllis Carter when we think of the remarkable human being who was her dear friend and husband …”
In addition to reaching Dr Anthony, we felt it would be most appropriate to secure a response from this region’s foremost political novelist and longstanding close friend of Phyllis and Martin Carter — George Lamming.
“I met Phyllis Carter in the most unusual of circumstances,” recalled Lamming. “I arrived from Barbados (in 1955) and made the Carters my first visit, to discover that Martin, a casualty of the colonial government, was under a detention order.
“The order prohibited him from venturing out of his house or entertaining more than three people at any one time. Phyllis Carter became the shield and source of that large family’s survival.”
As Lamming further noted, Phyllis Carter was a woman of “much quiet and self-effacing courage. She brought a radiance of joy and hope to family and friends.
“The example of her resilience as citizen and wife remains with me to this day. Hers was an exemplary life…”
It was to his wife that Martin Carter had dedicated his first published collection of ‘Poems of Resistance’ that included his oft quoted ‘Death of a Comrade’.
Death must not find us thinking that we die…..
From the mourning vanguard moving on.
dear Comrade I salute you and I say:
Death will not find us thinking that we die (RS)