Obituary of Norman Kingsley Julien
Norman Kingsley Julien. It was so illuminating to hear the stories related by his friends about our father. I know my siblings would be just as intrigued as I was to learn so much about his life, even if it was posthumously. Our father married Erica Patricia Julien at the age of 24 years. They met when mum was working at Ritchie’s, a popular Pharmacy in San Fernando. According to Uncle Leslie Lewis, Dad, like himself, was very ambitious and wanted to study to improve his chances of getting a good-paying job. “We were apprentices at Trinidad Leasehold Limited (TLL) together under the mentorship of Teacher Brown. We were taught discipline and were encouraged to work and study hard to move up the ranks in the company and get better-paying jobs to support our families”. Dad exercised regularly and could be caught lifting weights (old iron) with the likes of his partners Harry and Ahing. Uncle Ahing and Auntie Cynthia Austin would later turn out to be one of our cherished neighbours to this day. We were fortunate to have exceptional neighbours of the likes of the Edmonds, the Geoffroys, the Gopauls, the Lockharts, the Achongs, the Raymonds, the Mahabirs, the Carrs, the Tysons, the Lewises, the Awais and recently, the Hoseins and Mala and family. We thank them for their support over the years. When the opportunity presented itself, dad would apply to get a place on the oil tanker that was sailing to Liverpool for he and mum, shortly after the birth of my eldest sibling, Lynette, who they left with granny Nora. I vividly remember the stories our mother told us about her three-week journey on the seas, the crashing waves, the dinner tables sliding from side to side and the many times she prayed earnestly for fear of not being able to make it safely to land. We all sat around lapping up every detail. The ship, called Hilary, departed from Dunkirk, New York, docked in Portugal and then arrived in the port in Liverpool on 21st October 1958. My father was greeted by Uncle Augustus Lewis, a childhood friend with whom he made mischief in his formative years, who lodged my parents in his brother Earl’s home and showed them the ropes. “ He was a good friend, and we grew up like brothers. I was friends with Norman for many years.” My father studied construction engineering at Tottenham Technical College. The month of October was a significant date for my family for my two brothers, Brian and Anthony, were born on 26th October in 1960 and 1961 respectively. Not to be left out, sister number two, Carol, eased her way into the world a year later. My parents returned to Trinidad and Tobago with their three toddlers to reunite with Lynette to take up a lucrative job offer that would position him as a senior staff of the company, then owned by Texaco. This afforded the brood which then comprised of six children due to the addition of my sister Margaret and myself, the unique opportunity to attend St. Peter’s Primary and Secondary Schools, for which we were extremely grateful. Dad also lectured at San Fernando Technical Institute for some years, imparting valuable knowledge and experience to several students. Dad was very knowledgeable about his work and took his job seriously. Uncle Rogér Aché attested to this. “Norman was a crack shot in the refinery. He was the go-to-person when one had anything to do refractory or construction in the refinery and shutdowns of the cat cracker. He was well respected for his diligence and competence and knew everything there was to know about insulation in the refinery and was sent on training courses overseas by Texaco.” Literary expert, Michael Anthony also shared his memories of Dad. “He was my friend growing up, and we shared many a time fraternising together. He was a good boy.” 2 Dad spent many hours repairing his vehicles, the Opel and the ever faithful yellow Kingswood under the watchful eyes of my brothers Brian and Anthony. They also tinkered with plumbing and other household things that needed to be repaired and learnt a great deal from him. He was extremely proud of every single one of his children and provided for us in the best way possible. Besides being a family man, Dad was very much a part of his extended family. Auntie Elsa, the closest family relation was his confidant and best cousin. Her father, Julius Sealey was his father figure which probably explains the closeness. Uncle George, Auntie Veronica and Heather and Garvin Sealey were also very close to his heart and he took great interest in their wellbeing. Rosetta was later to be his wife and, as a retiree, Dad enjoyed playing tennis with Rose and Adrian, his step son-in-law who he became very close to. They had many ding dong tennis matches on Endridge courts each trying to out-do the other. He also enjoyed taking long walks every morning (even if rain was falling he would use an umbrella), playing scrabble almost every night and ballroom dancing with Rose and the regular visits to and from her many family members. Rose, her offsprings and her entire family, especially Collette, Adrian and Janet, and all the neighbours of Short Street were a constant in this phase of his life. He embraced them with love and joy and shared many happy moments in their company. Thank you all for all your efforts. Some five years ago, after much digging, Dad was elated to find out that he was not an only child. To his surprise and utter joy, he found his siblings from his father’s side and went to lengths to meet every single one. He even visited New York to meet his sister. This was such a fulfilling experience for him. He could not contain himself and spoke quite often about them and tried to keep in touch with them as far as possible. This was an absolute highlight of his life. He lived for his grandchildren whom he loved so dearly, Andy, Sheldon, Keegan, Caron, Charissa and Joseph and took a personal interest in their academic pursuits and development. Father’s day and his birthday were very special occasions for him to catch up on anything happening in our lives that he may have missed. A year ago Dad suffered a stroke that would leave him with limited mobility but the love and caring meted out by Marilyn, his caregiver, Dr. Adenekan his ever-attentive physician, Bianca and later Anton his physiotherapists, supported by Steve, they ensure that he remained relatively active with a positive frame of mine. Always one for a good joke, he enjoyed the visits from his children and grandchildren. His sisters-in-law visited almost every evening and filled his life with love, joy and laughter. Janet, thank you and all your family for looking after Dad. Dad fully enjoyed armchair sports, cricket (he stayed awake for hours on end to support his team, always hopeful that West Indies will pull off a win and celebrated when they did), tennis ( he was a big fan of Serena and Djokovic) and was extremely intrigued by the discovery channel and the history channel. Textie ,his barber, had a special place in his life. Every Thursday dad would locate himself under the house waiting for his trim (skinhead) and shave and would then douse himself with Alcolado. He enjoyed the chats, the jokes, the learning experiences shared by Textie and this brought him great joy. Dad, we will miss you. We love you. Thank you for all that you have done for us. May you rest in peace and rise again in glory. Amen.