Fri | Dec 8, 2023

Antonette Haughton – Lionhearted, brilliant, beautiful

Published:Thursday | June 8, 2023 | 12:50 AM


The death of lawyer, media personality and politician Antonette Haughton elicited mixed reactions. The Gleaner has always prioritised balance, so I write to share memories of my friend Antonette.

We met in 1983 on a packed beach in Ocho Rios, when my young son and I got separated – she pushed her way through the crowds and delivered him safely to me. It was an instant friendship. We spent the rest of the day ‘labrishing’, and her giving me salsa lessons.

Antonette lived briefly with my family while practising law in Port Maria. We had intense conversations – discussing poverty, exclusion and social inequality – revealing her intellect, memory, deep spirituality, and commitment to make a difference.

Young people gravitated towards ‘Auntie Ann’, who thought the primary purpose of education is to develop their pride, confidence and aspirations. My four children spent summers with her, husband Osvaldo, son Cheikh and extended family. The household brimmed with ‘adopted’ children, homeschooled by her parents.

Once, while on the way to her office in downtown Kingston, a little boy with a lame leg was begging on the sidewalk. Antonette sat down beside him, gave him money and prayed for his healing.

She loved to sing lines from Nina Simone’s numbers: “I wish I knew how it would feel to be free ... . I wish I could share all the love in my heart. ... I am just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”

Her unbridled compassion ultimately led to difficulties with her beloved profession. While aware that this quality did not make life easy, she stayed true to herself: “I wish I did not care so much,” she would say.

Articulate, energetic, as strong as she was fragile, as dynamic as she was vulnerable, Antonette’s trust in those around her was limitless. She could have benefited from more understanding of her uniqueness.

“.... If your intentions are correct, the errors can be lived with, because you are trying to improve things” is a quote attributed to her.

We lost contact years ago, but I remember her as lionhearted, brilliant, beautiful.