Catherine Watson

(Brownsville Recreation Center)

My name is Catherine Watson and I was born in Jamaica, West Indies, in a little parish called St. James. Jamaica may be like any other island, but I’m from Jamaica, so I’m going to say it’s the nicest one! I grew up in Jamaica, I went to school in Jamaica, and I finished everything in Jamaica before I came here. I’m a registered nurse. I went to the University of the West Indies after I did my training, right before I came here. What made me want to come to the States was the greener pasture that everybody’s looking for. Originally I just wanted to visit. But I couldn’t get a student visa because I was a nurse–ten times I tried! So eventually I was forced to just come and live here.

America sells itself very well. When you look at the television, it’s like everything is framed in gold. But when I came here I realized they have broken-down cars, they have bad roads, etc. So when I came here to the States, I regretted it a lot at first. I used to cry because the environment was so different than back home. I lived in Boston first, and eventually I came to New York and I started working at Brookdale Hospital. I still love Jamaica but I am a New Yorker now. I live in Queens. Every day I travel from Queens to the Brownsville Recreation Center to participate in the exercise club.

I have two kids. My daughter’s name is Sheree Monique Watson and my son’s name is Locksley Plummer. My son is the first born and my daughter is the second. My son was a teenage pregnancy and I had my daughter later after I’d gotten married. For me back then a teenage pregnancy was not acceptable, so I wouldn’t let anybody see me when I was pregnant. I had to stop school. My father was so mad, but it was a kind of motivation for me. I went to UWI and finished up my nursing degree. After I graduated I got married and had my daughter. Today, my son is a nurse and my daughter is a doctor. My daughter always wanted to be a doctor and now she’s a pediatrician. My son wasn’t too sure what he wanted to do from the beginning, but he said nursing is something that you can always get a job in. Both of them, thank God have never been on drugs, and have never been involved in anything like that. They are good kids and I’m proud of them, very proud of them.

My daughter is married, but she doesn’t have any children—not yet because she’s always very busy. My daughter used to go to a very good prep school called Prep for Prep, and she had a very good education; she went to the number one private high school in the country, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. When she finished that, she went to Brown University and then she came to Columbia and did medical school here in New York. When she finished Columbia, she went to Harvard for her residency. She has no time for children yet. I used to pressure her about having children, but now I don’t. My son is also married and he has three children. Now my son, he’s more close to me. Anything happens to me, he’s there. And my daughter in law, she’s like a daughter to me; that’s how I treat her—how I would want someone to treat my daughter.

People tell me all the time that I am a strong person. Because of that quality people are often drawn to me. When things are difficult, I might get depressed, yes—but I get over it! I believe you have to accept things that you can’t change, and this is how I deal with most situations. I’m always wishing people well. I see the goodness in people, not the badness in people. All of us have bad pieces, but I see the good in you more than I see anything bad, no matter how evil you are. Maybe that is why I’m a bubbly kind of person.

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