Carmona praises his father: ‘A life well lived’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Former president Anthony Carmona comforts relatives as they speak about the life of his late father, Dennis Carmona, at the St Benedict’s RC Church in La Romaine on Friday. – Photo by Marvin Hamilton

A life well lived. Former president Anthony Carmona said this phrase aptly summed up the life of his father Dennis, 95.

Dennis Carmona died at the San Fernando General Hospital on June 11.

Delivering the eulogy at his father’s funeral at St Benedict’s RC Church, La Romaine, on Friday, Carmona praised God for Dennis’ life.

“There is no greater legacy than following the example of a good man or a good woman.”

As he thanked the many people who sent condolences and comfort to his family, Carmona reflected on many things which distinguished Dennis during his lifetime.

While Dennis was a skilled worker in the oilfields of South Trinidad in his early professional life, Carmona said that success did not come without the attendant discrimination associated with the colonial environment of subservience at that time. He worked for three foreign-owned oil companies at different times in his working life. Carmona said it was a period when companies were run by expatriates who either ruled with great kindness or with ruthless efficiency and condescension.

As a member of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU), he continued, Dennis was not afraid to stand up for his rights. He related a story of how Dennis staged a one-man protest during his lunch hour, outside the gates of the oil company he worked for in Santa Flora

Carmona said his father’s actions caused other workers to join him and the protest intensified.

“The management called him aside and asked him why, as a white man, he was protesting?

Carmona said, “His response was sharp. He was not a white man because he was fair. What he was fighting for had nothing to do with the colour of his skin.”

Dennis was fighting against injustice and unfair treatment of workers, regardless of race or any other consideration.

As as result of his father’s advocacy, Carmona said, he and his fellow workers later received the promotions they deserved because of their hard work.

Dennis rode by bicycle from the family’s home in Palo Seco to the oilfields in Santa Flora daily. Carmona recalled when his employers felt he should not be doing so, as a senior employee, Dennis gave his bicycle to another person in the village and “walked to work daily for months.”

He said Dennis held steadfastly to the view that “no one should be able to use you in your own country.”

Dennis was not materialistic and believed education was key to success. Carmona said this was a fundamental lesson Dennis taught to his children and grandchildren.

“Be educated and self-sufficient. No one can take away your education and knowledge.”

Later in his life Dennis often spoke with his grandchildren about their career ambitions and asked them to read newspaper stories to him, to keep him informed and to hone their reading skills.

Carmona said this fond memory caused Dennis’s grandson Aaron to describe him as one of the “thinkers and leaders in a world of zombies.”

Dennis loved his community. Carmona recalled the family’s home was open to children to come and watch television shows like Bonanza and Lassie. Dennis was an avid reader as well as a lover of classical music and calypso.

Though he became blind later, Carmona said Dennis never let his disability prevent him from leading an active life. He knew the layout of the family home by heart and was either doing physical repairs himself or directing others to do so.

“He was blind but he was still able to see.”

Dennis was a man of indomitable faith. That faith, Carmona continued, contributed to him and his siblings being given names from the Catholic almanac that were unique and reflected “the power of Almighty God.”

Dennis’ brother Alex told the congregation, “He was our hero.”

Fr Emmanuel Pierre described death as a doorway.

“He (Dennis) has entered that doorway and is headed home.”

Among those who came to pay their respects were Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe, Justice Frank Seepersad and former independent senator Stephen Creese.