Harper Bella

Harper Bella

An Open Letter to my Grandmother

Words & Images © Harper Bella. Team New York No. 2.

In 1976, a family in Boston, the Fish’s, enlisted the help of a live-in Nanny from Barbados. Grandma was chosen for the job. So you packed your suitcase and parted with your husband and 4 children.

At the age of 28 years old, you were unaware of what was in store for you, but you were optimistic about the possibilities. So you kissed your babies goodbye and migrated to America to begin your new role as a Nanny.

I imagine your first winter in Boston must have been brutal for you, but I know you well enough to understand, no complaints ever left your mouth. For there was more to gain than to lose and I suppose, much to do to keep you busy and warm. Your youngest daughter; Heather, turned into ‘Little Missy’; your son Roddie in Barbados became ‘Kevin’ in Boston.

“During the night,” Grandma says, “Little Missy was afraid of the boogie man because of her brother Kevin. Consequently, she would ask to sleep in the second bed in her room.” It makes me wonder what my mother did when my Uncle frightened her senselessly on late nights. Who comforted her?

You always said the Fish’s were good to you, but after 3 long years, with your adopted children, Little Missy, and Kevin. It was time to move on again. So you kissed your babies goodbye and migrated to New York for the next chapter in your life.

I did not understand before, but I acknowledge now what it entails to be a hero. While the job of a Nanny may seem meager to most, it is a significant role requiring endless patience and an abundance of love. Nannies are silent heroes. They raise children in partnership with busy parents and still have to hold space for nurturing their own families as best as they can.