By Nelson A. King
A prominent Vincentian designer in Brooklyn two Saturdays ago sprang a big surprise on her retired nurse mother by hosting her 68th birthday bash at their East Flatbush home.
Zulema George, who owns AK Couture Boutique & Beauty Bar on Church Avenue in Brooklyn, invited a few close relatives and friends to share in the surprise celebration for her mom, Edna George, who retired in 2010 as a nurse from the then St. Mary’s Hospital in Brooklyn.
“It wasn’t a milestone birthday, but it was very important for me to put this together,” Zulema told Caribbean Life. “Every year, we either take her out to dinner, or dad takes her away.
“This year, with her just coming back from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I knew she wasn’t expecting much; so, I saw it as the opportune time to have a surprise dinner party,” Zulema added. “And I am so glad that I did. Her expression when everyone yelled ‘surprise’ was priceless. And that alone made it all worthwhile.
“She is a superb mom and friend, and she deserves the best,” Zulema continued. “Happy birthday again to the best mother in the world!”
Edna, who averts the spotlight, declined to be interviewed, but her Vincentian-born husband of 48 years, Auton “Frankie” George, a retired accountant and economist, furnished information after the lavish celebration that comprised good food, drinks and dancing to the sounds of a popular Vincentian DJ in Brooklyn, SupaEyes.
Frankie said Edna Robertha George, née McDonald, was born in the interior village of Gomea in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the fifth child of Marian and Cornelius McDonald.
As a youth, Frankie said Edna always aspired to being a nurse.
“So, on graduation from high school, and after a cursory stint with teaching, she took and passed the exam to attend nursing school in Kingstown [the Vincentian capital] at the now Milton Cato Memorial Hospital [formerly Colonial Hospital],” he said. “Through hard work and dedication, she progressed through the ranks to the title of Staff Nurse.”
But realizing that she needed to expand her nursing knowledge and skills, and that these were not entirely possible in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Frankie, a former master at the St. Vincent [and the Grenadines] Grammar School, said Edna migrated to Toronto, Canada, where she worked at Toronto Western Hospital.
In Toronto, Frankie and Edna, who had dated while in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, re-united. Frankie, at the time, was studying at Memorial University in Newfoundland on a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship. Frankie and Edna got married in 1970 after Frankie graduated from Memorial University.
A year later, after Frankie completed a post graduate degree in economics at York University in Toronto, the Georges returned to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Frankie said he had to fulfill his obligation to the Vincentian government, which had offered him the scholarship.
He said Edna returned to the hospital, where she was initially trained, as a Staff Nurse, and that, in 1973, their only child, Zulema, was born.
“Figuring that the educational opportunities would be greater for her young daughter in the U.S.A., she [Edna] migrated there in 1974 and settled in Brooklyn, New York,” Frankie said.
He said Edna worked as a licensed nurse for the St. Mary’s Hospital organization in Brooklyn, and “attempted to combine work, parenting and scholarship by attending Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn.
“But this attempt at being superwoman proved too much, and she decided that focusing on caring for her young daughter offered greater rewards than a university degree,” Frankie said.
“Edna is a wonderful mother and wife, who does not like the spotlight,” he added. “As she says continually, once her home and her daughter are ‘balanced,’ she is ‘a happy camper.’”