Cayman Islands Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush’s mother, Faith Muriel Bush-Ebanks, died Sunday following a long illness that had left her bedridden for the better part of the last five years, Mr. Bush confirmed Monday.
Funeral services for the late Mrs. Bush have been set for Saturday, April 16, at 10 a.m. at West Bay’s Wesleyan Holiness Church.
On Monday, less than 24 hours after her passing, Mr. Bush, 61, lamented the loss of the woman who he said “taught him everything.”
“Faith was my mother and my father,” Mr. Bush said. “For whatever good I am … my mother is responsible for it.”
Mr. Bush, who became Cayman’s first premier under the 2009 Constitution Order, said his mother and stepfather raised him through his childhood during a time in the late 1950s to early 1960s when times were much leaner and the British territory struggled with a local population of fewer than 10,000 people.
At one point during the mid-1950s, historical records reveal the Cayman Islands government’s main source of revenue was from the sale of stamps at the post office.
“[Mom] grew up in a time when Cayman had nothing,” Mr. Bush said. “Her father died when she was four. My grandmother died in 1953, two years before I was born.”
To make ends meet and help feed her family, Mrs. Bush worked as a housekeeper in West Bay for the Farrington family and its patriarch, William “Willie” Farrington. Later on, in the mid-1960s as the local tourism industry began to develop, she took various jobs at Cayman hotels, often working two shifts a day.
“She was very independent, a very hardworking woman,” Mr. Bush said. “She would get up at 4 a.m., do her housework, then go to work and work two jobs.”
She instilled that work ethic in her son, Mr. Bush said, and taught him how to sing. According to the opposition leader, Faith Bush was one of Cayman’s renowned singers in her day.
She worked in the local hotel industry until the early 1990s – for about three decades – until a heart ailment and back surgery forced her to retire. Mr. Bush said she was wheelchair-bound since the mid-1990s because of health difficulties.
In early 2011, the Bush family suffered the tragic loss of Mr. Bush’s only daughter, Tonya Anglin, at age 30. Mr. Bush said his daughter’s untimely passing seemed to worsen his mom’s condition. She was essentially bedridden after 2011, he said.
“[Tonya’s death] was a big blow to my mother who was already not well,” he said. “With all the investigations going on [against Mr. Bush and his former United Democratic Party government], she couldn’t handle it.”
Mr. Bush said that last Thursday night, his mother went to sleep and never reawoke. Mr. Bush said she was taken to hospital Friday and passed quietly on Sunday.
As news began to spread around the community, mourners and well-wishers gathered at Mr. Bush’s West Bay home late Sunday and early Monday. Among those contacting the opposition leader was long-time political rival, Premier Alden McLaughlin.
“I offer condolences to the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. McKeeva Bush and his family on the passing of his mother Ms. Faith after a long illness,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “The loss of one’s mother is certainly profound and something with which many of us, including myself, are regrettably familiar. Our thoughts, prayers and considerations are with Mr. Bush and his family during this very difficult time.”
“There’s been a real outpouring of support,” Mr. Bush said. “My mother would have liked that.”