I met Merceline Dahl, married later named Regis, when she studied medicine at the University of the West Indies, Mona. Immediately recognizing that my mother was a Dahl I invited Merceline to meet her. We then learned that Merceline’s father, George, was the brother of my mother’s father, Ernest Dahl. The Bahamian and the Jamaican Dahl’s are close relatives. Following this discovery, on every visit to Nassau on UWI business, I visited my grand uncle and therefore met and interacted with his elegant, dignified and poised wife, Mrs. Marguerite Dahl.
However, it was during the period when my family lived in Nassau for seven years that I simply came to love Mrs. Marguerite Dahl. We became friends. I became enthralled by her strength of character, fierce independence, practical enterprise and powers of discernment. She read people like books and summed them up in concise and precise phrases. I could only be genuine with her. Any pretense would be an insult to the integrity of our relationship.
But her insights were not confined to individuals. Her understanding of Bahamian society was devastatingly down-to-earth and academically profound. Listening carefully, I became an adoring student. In those latter years of her life, she had time on her hands, and I had time for her. On occasion, because of circumstances I turned up at the home without calling ahead but considered that the breach of protocol could not be compared to the richness of the fellowship that we would share and the wealth of knowledge gained. I have adopted some of her sayings. Up to last Sunday, I commended one of them to my Sunday School Class. It was respect to her daily responses to the circumstances presented by life: She lived between the poles of “Lord have mercy” and “Thank you Lord”: dependence on God and gratitude to God. Is there any better way to live?
The wisdom of Mrs. Marguerite Dahl was writ large. She was a treasure trove. She recalled the hardy years before the halcyon days of the Bahamas, in order to provide perspective. She knew the powerful and the wealthy before they ascended to power and wealth.
I felt compelled to learn from her, not as a source to write books, but as a resource to live a better life. She was salt of the earth. Victor over difficult circumstances. Triumphant in the raising of her children. Unapologetic about the principles by which she had lived her life. Rejoiced in the God she served. Thankful for her family, friends, Church, and country. It was impossible not to recognize the giant of a lady that she was. I simply loved her and loved spending time with her, visiting or on the phone. I always felt so special when she would say to me, “Errol I was thinking of you, and wondered if you here.” I would assure her that I would never be in Nassau and neither visit nor call.
Ann, Tony, Merceline, Iva, Donald and Georgette as you clearly know, your mother loved each of you and was extremely proud of all of you. You were at the pinnacle of her phenomenal achievements in life. We were all hoping that she and we would be around for October 19, 2019, because we could work out the mathematics of October 19, 1919. However, the Lord knows best.
Condolences to all family, relatives and close friends, on behalf of Sharon, Catherine and myself and also from the Ernest Dahl branch of the Dahl family of Jamaica. She fought a great fight and finished her course. To God be the glory.
Professor the Honorable Errol Miller