An International Women’s Day Salute to the Women Of My Family

Family photo celebrating women during this  international women's day

On this International Women’s Day 2021, I would like to take this time to salute the phenomenal, headstrong, steadfast, powerful and amazing international women in my family who were instrumental to my upbringing.

Today is about Mabel Romania Brewster, my paternal grandmother, whose roots were Bajan (Barbados).

A housewife and mother to her son, she was determined and ambitious. She waited for my grandfather to leave for work so that she could wash and iron for clients, she kept secret from him. Granny, as we called her saved enough money to build a house in 1932.  That house was also my childhood home.

portrait of Nicole's paternal grandmother celebrating women during this  international women's day

Today is about my maternal grandmother, Ena Evancia Marie Labadee.

Born in St. Lucia with roots in France. She worked as a housekeeper and cook on the American base in Chaguaramas, Trinidad. In addition to being a single mother to two girls, she was also an entrepreneur and a seamstress. On her day off , she sewed dresses, draperies and other items for her clients.

These are the women whose achievements I celebrate today.

These are the women whose legacy live within me.

These are the women who fought against all odds in a patriarchal society for their rights, economic empowerment and equality; and in their own unique way, succeeded.

Grainy photo of Nicole's maternal grandmother outside in a housecoat celebrating women during this  international women's day

Today, I also honor my queen, my mother, Annette Simeonise Gibson-Commissiong.  

For the first ten years of my life, she was a Stay at Home mom.  She never missed a PTA meeting, ballet practice nor recital. She taught classes in floral arrangement, cooking and ceramics. She is a creative genius.

In addition, she attended Secretary school. My mom is phenomenal, a badass who pursued her dream.

She was also a singer in a choir. The woman could do it all and she did because she wanted more out of life.

Today. I celebrate my mom, who decided to go to school for nursing while she was pregnant with my little sister. Life for her was no “crystal staircase”.

However, she had a vision for her life and she executed that vision in the midst of resistance and adversity. She tackled all of those challenges but NEVER gave up!

Black and White portrait of Nicole's mom Annette celebrating women during this  international women's day

She took all of us, her children, on projects and campaigns to help the poor, to serve orphans and to read to the elderly. She opened her home to women who had no place to go. During the holidays, she brought home children who were left at the hospital so they could have a family to spend Christmas with. She taught me lessons in charity and humility that I’ve continued to practice in my life and pass on to my children.

Today, I celebrate this woman who made tremendous sacrifices for her family. Her achievements are immeasurable. She raised us to be kind, loving, responsible well adjusted human beings who put God first.

She believed that there was no substitute for education and exposure to other cultures. So she took us on many adventures during our Summer holidays.

three women in family grandmother, daughter and Nicole celebrating women during this  international women's day

I come from a long legacy of strong,determined persistent women and  I am very proud and grateful that they paved the way for me to be great. It is my responsibility now to pass this legacy on to my children.

This is what I celebrate today on International Women’s Day and this month, Women’s History Month.

Because of them, I am.

Celebrate the women in your life, give them the honor and respect that they deserve. Stand with them! Speak up for them and their rights because women’s rights are human rights.

They deserve your support.

To all you beautiful women, continue to be determined, be inspired, be motivated and embrace your journey.