Obituary: “The Lady, Her Life, and Her Love”
Doris May Rattray (Parke)—known to many as “Mom”—passed away peacefully on the morning of August 30, 2018 at the age of 93.
Doris was born on March 28, 1925 in Saint Mary, Jamaica to Ernest Parke and Eliza Pendley (White). The second of seven children (Nicholas, Leslie, Violet, Mavis, Doslyn and Carlos) to Eliza, Doris, a self-proclaimed “tomboy,” loved playing net ball and cricket and going to the beach. She was a precocious child. Purpose-driven and task-oriented, she quickly learned the disciplines needed to achieve her goals. Doris chose to use her time productively to satisfy her curiosity about life. Doris was well-read, loved to write and developed a strong aptitude for numbers.
In her youth, she exceled as a student and understood that education could provide boundless opportunities (a principle she passed on to her step-children and grandchildren). She attended Fellowship Hall Primary School, there she took the first and second year Common Entrance Examinations and passed with flying colors. Because of her love for numbers, she managed sales transactions at R. Hannah & Sons for several years.
Doris’ life-long passion, however, was music. She loved all kinds of music: reggae, country, gospel, R&B, pop, blues, and classical. Doris’ favorite hobby was singing. Her natural shyness would quickly disappear whenever she picked up a microphone to belt out a song. And although she usually would have to be coaxed into singing in front of a crowd—particularly if she were asked to do so impromptu—she would perform like a professional. Her naturally beautiful soft voice would melt your heart every time. She loved to record her singing for friends and family. And you could always find her in record stores buying records. She easily owned over a thousand albums and knew the names of every artist and song.
Doris married the love of her life, Winston A. Rattray—whom she affectionately called “Winnie”—on December 23, 1961. A pioneer in her own right, Doris migrated to Chicago, Illinois in 1968 for better employment. Unaccompanied and with little assistance, Doris laid the groundwork for Winston, Pauline and Paulette (her then teenaged step-daughters) to follow her to the U.S. from Jamaica. Doris found work as a nanny before she and Winston decided that Boston, Massachusetts had more to offer their family.
Doris led the way to Boston, moving there in 1972 and followed by her family a year later. Her step-daughter Maxine soon joined them. There, Doris worked as a caregiver, first at the Jewish Memorial Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in Roxbury and later at Sherrill House in Jamaica Plain, from where she retired at 65. Doris was known for soothing patients with her warm nature and lovely singing. Patients even made song requests!
Doris’ marriage to Winston deteriorated over time, but their deep friendship lasted until his passing in 2007. For the majority of her years in Boston, Doris lived in the Mission Hill area. After she retired, she moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to live with her younger sister Mavis Fletcher. Doris returned to Massachusetts to live near her stepdaughters and her grandchildren for more help and support because her health was declining.
Doris was a member of Faith Christian Church in Dorchester and, although she had long declared her love for the Lord since her childhood, was baptized in 1999.
She embodied the scripture: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matt. 5:8-9). She never spoke ill of anyone and loved everyone. She loved to cook Jamaican food and feed her family and friends—earning herself the nickname “Mom.” Whenever asked how she was doing, she’d simply respond: “Well… I’m still kicking!”
Doris’ final years sadly were affected by dementia, which often caused her to be confused and forget details. She never forgot her loved ones, however, and, according to the fantastic caregivers who tended to her, she never lost her voice. She sung for everyone until the very end.
Above all else—including music—Doris loved her family and friends. She is survived by her siblings Doslyn and Carlos; step-daughters Pauline (William), Paulette (Daniel) and Maxine (Edlon); her grandchildren Damian (Yndia), Natalie, Gregory (Romina), Tamika (Ti’Shaun), Akeem, Monique, Joshua and Deborah; her great grandchildren Gianni, Justin, Sydney, Eva, Romina and Askary; her nieces and nephews Olga, Carolyn, Carmen, Gloria, Nellie, Adrienne, Helene, Sandra, Audriene, Anna-Kay, Dahlia, Arlene, Mervin, Curtis, Charles, Vincent, Norris, Darren and David and their families; and a host of friends.
Doris was not overwhelmed by the cares of this world. She was an optimist who pursued life with a lightness of spirit. She had an intense awareness of self, her abilities, dreams and talents. She was confident with her accomplishments, yet she respected the dignity and the worth of others. When others saw their limitations, Doris saw their true potential and was quick to render her knowledge and expertise to motivate and inspire them to go above and beyond. She was a teacher in her own right, always ready to educate and sometimes counsel others on personal responsibilities. Doris was an amazing, selfless, kindhearted, loving soul who touched us all deeply and who we will miss eternally.
The Family would like to extend its sincere appreciation to Doris’ many friends and family members. Thank you for your presence and participation in making this service a memorable one. We would also like to thank everyone for your kind words, telephone calls, visits and support during this time of bereavement.
The Family would like to extend a special thanks to the fine team of clinicians and caregivers of CareOne nursing home in Randolph, MA and Old Colony Hospice and Palliative Care of Bridgewater, MA. Thank you for the high-quality health care services that you provided to Doris in her later years. Your consistent thoughtfulness and compassionate care are sincerely appreciated.