AS friends and family members streamed into the Faith Redeemer Assembly in Red Bank, St Elizabeth, emotions and memories filled their hearts and minds; some thoughts bringing a smile, others a tear.
This gathering was to celebrate, through worship, the life of Evelyn Adelsia Johnson (nee Burton); a caring mother and faithful friend.
A child of Rose Hall district in St Elizabeth, Evelyn was the daughter of Eliza and Charles Burton. She grew into being a strong, hard-working woman who understood the value of family.
Herself from a home of 12 siblings, the mother of 10 loved and cared for her children and spared no ounce of strength in being able to provide for them. Her husband of 24 years, Vernal, was father to all her children; though they had only four together.
In tribute to the woman of God that she was, the service began with What A Friend We Have in Jesus, which helped to bless the hearts of those in the congregation. Grandson Alton Ellington read the first lesson, which gave reassurance that Mama Emblin — as she was lovingly called — rests in the arms of sweet deliverance. Deborah Dietrich, her granddaughter, read the second lesson, which was taken from Revelations.
Tributes flowed from the church choir, Patrick Town Primary, and close relatives including grand, great-grand and great-great-grand children. In delivering the remembrance, niece-in-law Claudette Thomas chronicled Mama Emblin's life of struggle and triumph. Speaking as she felt Mama Emblin would herself, she said "Miss Thomas, beg yuh read this fi me, at the right time and the right place".
She spoke of how she tried her hand at elementary school teaching, being a seamstress; taking on domestic responsibilities with the Witter and Parchment families, to settling on establishing a market stall working for herself in Montego Bay.
From this vocation she fed, educated and met the needs of her children. The bright businesswoman that she was, Mama Emblin moved from being passenger on a market truck to co-owner of a truck to transport other vendors.
Among the struggles was an accident in the 1980s from which she suffered severe burns. While this resulted in her staying home, she still never lost her spirit and simply directed more of her energies at her children and grandchildren.
It was during these years that her faith in God was strengthened as she gave God thanks for allowing her to enjoy some of the fruits of the seeds she planted in her children. Her involvement in church, initially at Bethel Church of God and then the Faith Redeemer Assembly family, was bolstered.
In Mama Emblin's voice, thanks were offered to her church family and home family. Pastor Conrad Bent, who also delivered the sermon, was mentioned as a "son" whom she loved, and her dear "Palla", the daughter she never gave birth to, was thanked and instructed to take care of her flowers, which she loved so well. And fittingly, her succeeding generations of children honoured her during the service with a floral tribute.
Mama Emblin died at age 89, having lived a full life fraught with love and precious memories. Though she battled Alzheimer's for the last nine years of her life, she never lost her personal spunk and jovial personality. She suffered a stroke in July, bounced back, but departed as mayor of "Button Town" -- the community of family she created around her — on July 30, 2012.
She rests now with loved ones gone before and leaves a legacy and example for her relatives and friends to forever hold in their hearts and use as a guide for their lives until they are reunited... after the last mile of the way.
Mama Emblin was interred in the family plot in Rose Hall.