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Saturday 20 July 2019
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Double celebration for Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus

Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus, presiding officer of the Tobago House of Assembly. Photo by David Reid
Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus, presiding officer of the Tobago House of Assembly. Photo by David Reid

Mother's Day has always been a heartwarming occasion for Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus.

And, this year, it's doubly significant as she also celebrates her birthday today.

For Tsoiafatt Angus, Mother's Day is much more than a global acknowledgement of the role and contribution of mothers. She feels it is also a time for deep reflection.

"We celebrate motherhood and honour moms for their unconditional love and dedication to their children and families. But it is a day to entertain deep reflection on the sacrifices mothers make to ensure the best life they could give to their children," she told WMN.

The presiding officer in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Tsoiafatt Angus is kept quite busy maintaining decorum and dignity in the Assembly Legislature, Scarborough, Tobago.

She achieves this task with a calm, measured demeanour and strict adherence to the guidelines and principles governing her exalted position.

Tsoiafatt Angus also uses her office to promote greater awareness about the role of the legislature in safeguarding and enhancing democracy.

But when the debates and motions have ended in the Assembly, Tsoiafatt Angus quickly reverts to being what she loves best - a mother to her three children: Dayle, 26, a prominent fashion designer and sons Dylan, 23 and Danyel, 18, both of whom are studying abroad.

Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus and her daughter, Dayle Angus. Photo by David Reid

She said she does not commemorate the occasion with any special activity but leaves her options open.

"There is no predictability to the celebrations. It is all about my mood."

On the one hand, Tsoiafatt Angus said she may spend the day relaxing day in bed with a book or watching Netflix. On the other hand, the former Tobago Regional Health Authority chairman could also attending brunches and other social events or enjoying a weekend getaway.

She said visits to village harvests in Tobago have factored highly on her to-do list to celebrate the occasion over the years.

"There have been some occasions, though, where I wasn’t allowed to choose and was surprised, since my birthday, at times, is on Mother’s Day, like this year."

A medical doctor by profession, Tsosiafatt Angus said the birth of her first child, Dayle, in 1993, ranks as her most memorable Mother's Day experience.

"For the first time, I held my own flesh and blood at a mere two weeks old in my arms. My daughter was the best gift on that day."

Back then, Tsoiafatt Angus said, she paid no mind to the tasks associated with being a first-time mother but simply cherished the moment.

"It didn’t matter I had a sleepless night nursing and changing diapers, for me, it was the proudest day filled with joy and excitement of being a mom," she beamed.

"I don’t even remember how or where I ate that day but I can still feel the warmth of her body in my arms and see the beautiful bouquet of flowers from my husband (Dr Dwight Angus)."

Tsoiafatt Angus said that joy multiplied by the time her sons were born.

"Every time I held one of my newborns on that day, it was absolutely an amazing feeling of total satisfaction and accomplishment.

"In 1996, at three weeks old, my son Dylan with his big sister hovering, is how I remember that year. In 2001, Mother’s Day celebration, the joy of holding my six-month-old son Danyel was multiplied by having his two siblings at my side just as excited to mother and take care of him."

Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus, will spend Mother's Day with her family, including daughter, Dayle Angus and mother, Marjorie Tsoiafatt. Photo by David Reid

Tsoiafatt Angus said her mother, Marjorie Tsoiafatt, with whom she shares a close, loving relationship, also welcomes the flexibility in celebrating the occasion.

"After all, it's her day so she should be allowed to spend it according to her desires. So, at times, she wants a family day at home and that's what it becomes. Sometimes, she is excited at the prospect of going out and at other times, she definitely wants a getaway. We try to make it all about mom that day."

Tsoiafatt Angus admitted she and her younger sister didn't celebrate Mother's Day with their mom much as a child but recalled a few "mommy moments" which, she said, will forever be etched in her mind.

She told WMN: "I recall one night, my mom played the Michael Jackson song, Ben, over and over at our request, until we knew the word by heart. We were about seven and five years at the time. I definitely would not have had that patience."

Tsoiafatt Angus also recalled their mother taking them to Petit Trou beach in Lambeau as children. That outing stopped, she said, when her mother changed careers from public servant to business owner.

"These moments, I will always remember. So, we celebrate her everyday."

A former Secretary for Community Development and Culture in the previous Orville London-led THA administration, Tsoiafatt Angus said her mother taught her many valuable lessons.

Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus, chats with her daughter Dayle Angus and mother, Marjorie Tsoiafatt. Photo by David Reid

"The greatest gift my mother gave to me, aside from life, is the understanding that I am a citizen of the world. She taught me that I have a moral responsibility to myself and others, she kept me grounded in spirituality and she never let me forget to pursue passions with a commitment to excellence in whatever I decide to do. These, I think, are the gifts that I want to pass on to my children and hope that others continue to pass on to the future generations."

Asked if she felt mothers are given their just due in society, Tsoiafatt Angus was cagey, saying only that mothers will have a "diverse interpretation" of how they should be recognised.

However, she acknowledged that within recent years, more emphasis has been placed on mothers as being more than just childbearing women.

'This is what I believe has created more of an appreciation overall."

Nevertheless, Tsoiafatt Angus believes the greatest challenge confronting mothers is the "age old juggling act."

She observed: "We are so much more than mothers and sometimes it is difficult not to be put in the box of just mother, or to not be labelled as a career woman. We can be both but it is still hard for society to see us that way."

She said there is also the challenge of ensuring that family values take root in a world where social media and foreign, more liberal, cultural influences are extremely great.

So, has Mother's Day lost its significance in becoming too commercialised?

"I am not too sure I can say a 'yes' or a 'no.' People are so diverse in their needs. Some persons may feel that their mother never had some of those commercialised products and they want to give them the experience and it’s their way of acknowledging the sacrifices their mother made.

"For others, their gratitude for a mother’s health and life is expressed in spending meaningful time together without the added attractions. At the end of the day, as long as the mother gets what she wants, that’s what is important."

On her wish for the mothers of TT, Tsoiafatt Angus said: "I want it to be a reminder that they should be shown love and appreciation everyday for what they have done in the past and continue to do. I also hope that we, as a nation, take time to remember that mothers are not only mothers but are also multifaceted individuals who contribute so much to our society and everyday lives."

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