Guyanese dad, daughter celebrate major milestones

Ninety-year-old Maitland John (seated) flanked by his six children.
Photo by Nelson A. King

It was originally planned as the 65th birthday bash for a prominent daycare provider in Laurelton, Queens, but it turned out to be a grand celebration for both the provider and her 90-year-old dad, a retired elementary and secondary school principal in Guyana.

Family and friends of Paulette P. Hyman, 65, a retired registered nurse, and her father, Maitland John, Saturday night celebrated their birthdays at Antun’s Catering House on Springfield Boulevard in Queens. Mr. John and Mrs. Hyman were born a day apart – on Oct. 27 and 28, respectively.

Though the gala celebration primarily surrounded Mrs. Hyman, Mr. John was very much in the mix at the event that was organized and chaired by Hyman’s elder daughter, Shaundell Agrippa, also a daycare provider in Laurelton.

Myriad family members and friends toasted the daughter and father, then danced the night away to sweet soca and reggae vibes.

Mrs. Hyman also received a plaque from her three children — Shaundell, Dwayne and Sonia — and eight grandchildren — Britney, Sasha, Joshua, Elijah, Jaheim, Sean, Jeremiah and Melvin.

“We just want to let you know you mean the world to us,” the plaque reads. “Only a heart as dear as yours would give so unselfishly.

“The many things you’ve done, all the times that you were there for us, deep down inside, we know how much you really care,” it adds. “We appreciate all you do. Richly blessed is how we feel having a mother and grandmother in you. We love you!”

In addition, the grandchildren presented Hyman with red roses and made brief statements, and John’s six children — who came from across the United States and from the Caribbean — presented him with a watch.

Talented singer / guitarist Naomi Raine, a lead choir member at the Allen Cathedral Church in Queens, serenaded Hyman with “You are my Strength” and Whitney Houston’s “I Look to You;” and the Edge School of Arts (ESOTA) dance troupe in Laurelton transfixed patrons with an African rhythm dance.

“It gives me great pleasure to see [that] many of you can come out to celebrate my wife’s 65th birthday,” said Melroy Hyman, also a retired registered nurse. “She’s been good to me.

“I want to wish you continued health,” he added, turning to Mrs. Hyman. “I want you to remain as sweet as you are. Keep it right and go to mark 100.”

Verlyn Wilson, who knew Hyman for over two decades, said she was “honored” to be part of the celebration, adding that Hyman “exemplifies goodness, and caring and giving.”

First cousin and close friend Eglyn Booker said she was “blessed” to be part of the celebration, stating that they “go way back as girlfriends.

“You’re very thoughtful,” she said.

Another cousin, Yvonne Newland, told Hyman that her “steps have been ordered,” and Malika Hill said the occasion was “befitting for such a beautiful person.

“You look 45 tonight, honey,” said Hill, shedding a tear. “You’re not getting old; you’re increasing in value.”

In toasting her father, Audrie Campbell, who trekked from Guyana, said he had worked at 11 schools in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member-country and was head teacher in six.

Mr. John regretted that his wife, Rowena, of 65 years, was unable to travel to the United States because of ill health.

Using a tissue to dry tears streaming down his cheeks, John told his children that he could not have attained such major milestone without their love and support.

“May God bless them,” he said, sitting in a special chair in the center of the hall, referring to his children. “May they continue to love together as a family.”

And as he returned to his seat at the head table, he uttered, to loud laughter: “Excuse the little eye water.”

Hyman noted that the birthday celebration was “a success,” expressing gratitude to family members and stating: “There will be no birthday without any of you.”

Singer and guitarist Naomi Raine serenades Paulette Hyman.
Photo by Nelson A. King

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