McKeeva Bush: Rest in peace, dear 'Aunt Julia'

I’ve known and been associated with Aunt Julia practically all my life.

She was a cousin to my mother who is now 91 years old. She was a historian and musician extraordinaire.

When I was a young boy, our playground was in the Boggy Sand area where she lived – where we picnicked, went to the beach, and as we got older, where we went in groups with our girlfriends to enjoy the beach, picnicking, surfing, fishing, just having good clean fun.

She was our protector and would not allow anyone to take advantage of us.

She saw to it if there were any arguments, there were no fights. She knew everything. We couldn’t hide anything from her. She was the policeman, the judge and the jury, too. She was serious!

Her fun involved her work when she could get it, the music of yesteryear. And she would tell me about the old songs and what some of them meant, for each one had real life meaning.

As I grew older and got involved in politics, she became my supporter – on my second try.

When I became the minister of culture in 1992, I was encouraged and supported by her. I have a great interest in music and she supported the idea of our national children’s choir and a national orchestra. In her few short words, it was “good for them children.”

She was an awesome woman. And I appreciated the way her family cared for her. She didn’t know the need of anything they could provide.

Aunt Julia greatly respected Her Majesty, the Queen. When Her Majesty fell from her horse and damaged her arm, shortly afterwards she made her second visit here to our islands.

Aunt Julia wanted to meet her, and we got her to the Government House reception and got her in the front row.

Sure enough, the Queen stopped and had a chat. Aunt Julia said to her, “What happened to your arm, ma’am?” To which the Queen told her that she fell from her horse. “Oh my, that must’ve hurt, nuh?” Her Majesty replied, “It sure did.”

On the same trip and at the opening of the Ed Bush sports field, Aunt Julia was on the front row and repeated the same thing she did the night before to Her Majesty. She answered and smiled.

After Her Majesty had left the line where she had greeted the seniors, she said with a smile to me, “That lady asked me the same thing at the Government House reception.”

In 2010, I was in London and Her Majesty invited the Overseas Territories leaders down to Windsor Castle on the occasion of Prince William’s engagement. On talking to me, she said, “Is that bold lady still around?” I answered, “She certainly is, and at age 101.” The Queen just smiled and said, “A grand age!”

She is certainly our music icon.

Brave in what she thought was the worst occasion, and gentle in her own way she thought necessary.

A hard worker, frugal and my defender.

We miss her already.

Our condolences are extended to her only daughter Francine and her family, her sons Edmond, Ray B, Lewie Ceto and Edroy, all of whom have made a special contribution to the development of these islands, and their spouses and the many grandchildren, all of whom are contributing members of our community positively, and great-grandchildren and other family members.

Rest in peace, (old cuz) Aunt Julia.