New book a story of the many women who raised author
May 11, 2017
With her mother spending most of the time at the hotel she worked at in Jamaica, Rosemary Borel was raised in several homes and villages.
The four women, who played integral roles in raising and nurturing her, are on the front cover of her memoir, ‘Thriving in the Care of Many Mothers’, which was released last year.
The book will be launched in Toronto this evening.
At the 2016 launch in Jamaica, a long-time friend of Borel, who is close to Arts & Culture Jamaica founder and past president Paula DeRonde, was bowled over by the publication and suggested she bring it to this city.
“Toronto is one of my favourite cities which I enjoy very much during the summer,” said 76-year-old Borel who has been a Tampa Bay resident since 1984. “I have many friends and relatives in that city and my husband (Charles Hull) lived there for about eight years.”
In the Caribbean, many children are raised by their grandmothers and other female family members.
It was not different for Borel.
With her single mother – Frances Anderson – busy working in the hotel sector, she was left in the care of Edna Palmer, her uncle’s wife, who was based in St. Mary.
“She provided me with the stability I needed in my early years before I headed to boarding school and stayed with other families,” said Borel, the sister-in-law of retired Ontario Institute for Studies in Education business professor Dr. Lennox Borel who has been a Greater Toronto Area resident since 1960.
A member of a family of educators, Florette Robinson took care of Borel for nearly five years.
“They lived in Clarendon and provided me with extra help with my schoolwork that enabled me to get one of the very few available scholarships to enter secondary school,” she said.
Years later, Borel forged a close relationship with her mother-in-law, Carmen Borel, after moving to Trinidad & Tobago with her husband, Ainsley Borel, who died in 1978.
“She was very welcoming and was like a mother to me,” said Borel. “I had a number of people who cared, nurtured and loved me and I learnt from each of them. They helped to shape my life and make me the person who I am today. I love to tell people I was raised by a village.”
Julian Borel, who along with his sister Denise Billups were born in T & T, encouraged his mother to write the book after she retired in 2006.
“I didn’t think they would be interested in my upbringing and the fact that I lived in different countries and travelled quite a bit,” she said. “When I did sit down to think about it, I, however, realised I had a story to tell.”
With assistance from the University of South Florida Osher Lifelong Learning Institute that offers classes to seniors on how to write their life story and the Lifelong Learning Institute that provides adults with an opportunity to fulfil their creative potential, Borel received the training and tools to complete the book.
After graduating from St. Hugh’s High School for Girls in Kingston, she met her father – Income Tax Department deputy commissioner Rupert Smellie – who passed away in 1970.
“I was about 16 at the time and working in a government office next to his department building when I was introduced to him for the first time,” she said. “When I made the decision to attend university and was accepted by the University of Hartford in Connecticut where my mother and step-father lived, my dad stepped in and convinced me to go to England and pursue studies at the University of Leeds even though I had no family or friends there. He felt I would get the best education I needed there.”
She took his advice.
While in England, Borel met her first husband who was pursuing chartered accountant studies at the time and they married seven years later in 1967.
The Carnegie Fellow joined the Jamaican diplomatic service after graduating from university and was assigned to the United Nations. She was also posted to the high commission in London before quitting the diplomatic corps in 1968 and moving to T & T with her husband.
Borel taught high school in the twin-island republic while raising their children before relocating to Tampa Bay in 1984.
“This is the longest I have been in one place,” said the author who re-married two decades ago to Hull, a civil engineer-turned-book publisher.
The book launch takes place this evening at the Consulate General of Jamaica, 303 Eglinton Ave.