STORIES OF OUR FAMILIES
To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.
Victor Colin Johnson
Edith Florence (Flo) Sheppard
1924 - 2005
Eulogy written by his eldest daughter
Colin, Daddy, Grandpa, Uncle Colin, Mr. Ceejay, Boss - was born in Barbados to Barbadian parents Douglas Dowding Johnson and Iris Foster on December 8, 1924. He was the eldest child in a family of four (Maguriette, Lloyd and Angela). Daddy grew up at a time very different to now, a time when people enjoyed the simple things in life, a lot of outdoor activities, when men booked dances with ladies, your vehicle of choice when you were courting was a bicycle and people got married very young for the right reasons. It was a time of chivalry, family unity and adventure.
As a result, Daddy left his much loved home in Barbados at eighteen and headed for the green Trinity hills of Trinidad (as many people did back then) to craft his future. He started his career at Cable & Wireless as a telegraph operator. Shortly after that at age twenty-one, he found himself in the magical spell of the beautiful Florence Sheppard and would have celebrated sixty years of marriage next year May. Daddy not only got married to a "Trini" but also ended up with six brothers and five sisters and their partners. He became a brother and a true friend to all of them.
Colin and Florence (Flo) - 4 May, 1946
His working life successfully spanned companies such as Citrus Growers Association and Neal & Massy but of course the best was when he took the plunge and founded his own company some twenty-five years ago - Ceejay Engineering Limited. He successfully built and grew this family owned company from the back room of their home at Appleblossom Avenue where he was comfortable working in his pyjamas and short pants. Over the twenty five years he shared his knowledge freely. Just a "simple man of trade" with a wealth of knowledge in the field of engineering. Always giving his technical advice freely. He was proud to have accomplished all he did in his life and in particular, his business career. He loved the company he built and continued working right up until his recent surgery.
Daddy was a simple, humble, hardworking, committed person. He was guided by a set of strong moral values. Daddy had faith in people and a trust that they would always do the right and honourable thing. He was always forgiving, never spoke ill of anyone nor did he ever encourage any ill words of anyone. He kept his feelings and thoughts to himself. Caring, quiet, kind and sentimental were some of his other traits. In business, he was a leader, decisive but always took the time to comuicate with his customers, suppliers and staff. Although, he did not take advice easily, he was a fair person and a good listener.
Besides work, Daddy had other passions - Family, Food, Gardening, Writing, Driving and Sight-seeing. He was always happy to take his "Harem of Ladies" (Jessie, Ida, Sybil, Angela, Nora and recently Joan) for leisurely drives or to the "Bight" for some fish cakes and a drink of Fridays after a long hard week and a good deposit at the bank. Daddy still did the company banking, since he liked to go in and chat and maintain a personal relationship. He thought that was very important.
Daddy never belonged to any social, sporting or golf clubs. He was content to work hard and come home to his wife and family. Daddy had Flo well trained from Day One. She just had to hear his car horn beep once and she would be up and opening the gate, even in the rain. She got so good at it she just had to hear the engine as he turned the corner. When they were married fifty years, we thought it was time we gave them an electronic gate but Dad would just smile, as he had his own special "gate-opener".
Family was high on his priority list and it was reflected in family vacations, of which we have very memorable ones - at Toco (Patience's Bay) and Barbados. He especially loved when it involved several family members being there. He loved a good joke, even blushing and laughing over the few rude ones he gave, and he often shared these jokes with his "Sea Bathing Buddies" as they enjoyed the beautiful Barbados water. He would get so mad whenever we teased him that the Trinidad beaches and sea were "just like Barbados".
He was so happy with and proud of ALL his children, grand and great-grands (the last being his namesake, Colin). He loved being a part of their lives, but not in an interfering way.
Colin and Flo on their Golden Wedding Anniversary, 4 May 1996
with their children Michael, Jeffrey, Christine and Carol-Lyn
Daddy loved to eat, especially good old local foods (yam, eddoes, sweet potato, Oil-down, Souse and let's not forget Cou Cou and Flying Fish!) He could always tell you where you could get the best meals on any holiday. His eyes sparkled and mouth watered at the thought of the Atlantis Sunday Buffet. Mummy would cringe any time Daddy was planning a party (there would be cooking for days). After coming back home from vacations abroad, Daddy had to pass through St. James to pick up a few rotis. In his youth they fondly nicknamed him "Ocean", probably due to his healthy appetite.
Gardening was Daddy's relaxation, destresser and joy. He loved his kitchen garden and roses, which he lovingly planted, nurtured and grafted with great care and patience. Daddy was very meticulous about his weeding, no nut grass or stones got away as he sat for hours on his home-made wooden stool.
Writing was another favourite pastime. Every Christmas card had a personal note included. When at boarding school, I was probably the only girl who received regular and lengthy letters keeping me in touch with home. Most recently, he embarked on writing his very detailed and graphic memoirs from his early years- from two-and-a-half years, and had just reached age seventeen. I guess we have to complete this task with Mummy filling in the missing parts.
Finally, as the doctor promised, "Colin, you will enjoy a far greater quality of life after this operation". And it is true, only not what we had in mind. Colin has gained something however much more precious than that - he has gained Eternal Life.
Colin, Daddy, Grandpa, Uncle Colin, Mr. Ceejay, Boss - go on now and Rest in Peace and continue planting in your Heavenly Garden "Up Yonder".