We are here today in celebration of Our beloved matriarch: Henrietta Lucretia Francis nee Henry-York. 

Auntie Crechie was born: March, 13th. 1926 – the same year as Elizabeth The Second, Queen of England. Lucretia’s parents are Thomas York (Dada Yorkie) and Susanna Henry from, Phillipses – Molyneux, on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Kitts. She was the first child of Dada Yorkie’s second marriage and the seventh of his nine recorded children. Lucretia had six elder siblings: auntie Sunku, uncle Peter, auntie Visa, uncle George, auntie Ellen and auntie Roslyn, they were mostly born in the latter stages of the nineteenth century, as the dying embers of African slavery were fizzling out. She has two younger siblings: Arthur Nathaniel Henry-York and a second Ellen York, who remain alive; Arthur residing in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England UK and Ellen the younger, and youngest of all, who still resides in the Caribbean.

Our family is vast, like sand on the seashore. It’s no secret, close relatives pass each other on the street – without blinking – ignorant to the fact they are intimate, closely related family members of the eternal York clan, from Phillipses. In this very memorable case, bible words do ring true: The dead are arisen and We who remain rise up, in spirit, through Jesus Christ Our Lord – in the blood of Our hallowed fore parents to meet HIM. Yes! We are from Phillipses – right underneath the mountain, on the edge of rain-forest and the remnants of slavery. Our post-ceding generations became Molyneux Project – where I was born – on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

Auntie is survived, by: Three children, Glenda Henry-York, aka Sue, Tessa Francis, York and The youngest, David Francis, York. Wendell, her second child, is no longer with us but he is no less loved. We have fourteen grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren, as well, her two aforementioned siblings and innumerable nieces, great and great-great nieces, and likewise nephews.

Before coming to England, auntie worked as a housekeeper, a process labelled ‘lived in’ because she actually lived at the premises where she worked. She left the island in the late fifties at the age of thirty – 1956 – to join her, now, departed husband, Charles Stanley Francis, in England. They settled in Handsworth, Birmingham before moving to Winson Green. Auntie worked hard all her life and in various roles. She did: piece work at Concentrics and Friedrich Woolley, also as a dinner lady @Handsworth grammar school. She would reminisce about the passing of the ages and time: when she once – with her work colleagues – had to sleep in Hockley bus garage because the fog was too thick, for them to make their way home, so they had to leave the garage early next morning and proceed, straight to work.

Auntie worked hard, to eventually send for her three children remaining in the Caribbean, enduring heartbreaking abuse from strangers as well, as work colleagues, she; would sit and rue as others were offered regular and invaluable work but she persevered, showing great determination when, finally, she was in a position, financially, to send, for: Glenda and Wendell aka Yorkie – Tessa was to follow not long after. Her family became complete again. In 1966 precious David was born, auntie dearly wanted to have a child born on English soil, to consolidate and gratify her transition, from slave descendant, island dwelling non-entity, to an inhabitant of the British isles, living in England – David fulfilled her dream, in the same year England won the football world cup – a most memorable historical landmark, just like the year of her birth.

Henrietta is the matriarch who held our entire family together – visiting her younger brother more frequently than regular, in Leeds. She loved to cook and, up until October, 2017. was sprightly enough to do her own shopping. Glenda’s friends would often remark, after seeing auntie shopping, ‘I thought your mum suffered from foot ailments?’ Trying to work out how she so frequently visited and made her way around the Bull ring market. On occasions, the family would head to, 7. Goodie Avenue – on Sundays – the site of our favourite restaurant, there; would be laughter and merriment, with tears, especially when auntie would take a hand and put the grand and great-grand children in their place. Her favourite colour is red, hence everyone at this celebration has been requested to wear some kind of red item, as tribute. Cousin Gastnell, son of our second Ellen York, though unable to be present today, sends fond remembrance of being escorted to school – from Phillipses to Molyneux – in 1958, walking with our grandfather, Dada Yorkie (Thomas York), wearing his brand new red pants our auntie had sent from England, for him. Sam, also, can remember being taken to church by auntie, having to sit through a lengthy service, in the freezing cold, for the end of the service and a hot cup of tea and biscuits but on best behaviour, because auntie Crechie would watch everything and make sure keep everyone under control. She is very strong and liked to see everything done right.

Her faith is always in God – That is why we all love her so much

 

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