Clara Estelle Bush, 105, who passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 14, was born to John William Bush, and his wife Abigail Miriam Bush, nee Powery, on Nov. 8, 1913.
From all accounts, the Cayman Islands was an inhospitable place to be at her birth. Mosquitoes by the millions, no roads, very poor homes, no electricity and for the very poorer family’s, life was difficult to say the very least.
Education opportunities were nearly non-existent for poor children, but Caymanians were resilient and had ambition, and to that generation, no work was demeaning. They survived by the sweat of their brow.
In the early sixties, I was just a little boy, but I remember “Uncle” John well. He was a close family member. The grandnephew of my grandfather William Atkins Bush who had passed away in 1929, “Uncle” John came to my mother’s yard everyday about 3 p.m. to have coffee, to help my mother and aunt with the thatch that was made into rope. From him I heard a lot, of the older people – where they came from, what they did and how they existed.
Cousin Estelle, his daughter, took loving care of him in his later days. I remember when he died – there was no vehicle road to his home and today it is named “John Bush Road,” a paved roadway.
Cousin Estelle was a most interesting woman. She never married and devoted her earlier life to taking care of her father. She was a devout Christian and a member of the West Bay Pilgrim Holiness Church, now Wesleyan Holiness Church. After her father passed away, she worked mostly at the church and for the various pastors at the mission home (manse). She did everything – cleaned the church and kept the manse impeccably clean. If there were children, she helped with them and kept the yard in good Caymanian style.
She was a stern disciplinarian, took no prisoners, and had no favorites. All of us, as children growing up, were pretty well “scared” of her. She tolerated no foolishness. We were children, and was to be seen and not heard and kept out of discussions of adults. We dared not run in the church if she was around, and she always was.
When the Rev. Ruth Bowman came to the church in West Bay, and then got her own home on Watercourse Road, Cousin Estelle shifted her work and went to work mostly for Sister Bowman. But she still helped with the caretaking of the church and mission home, together with Sister Rose Anglin (Ms. Rosie). Her entire life revolved around our church and its pastors and their families. She really loved the West Bay Wesleyan Church and there was nothing she would not do for it.
She also helped the teacher with the small children in Sunday School class, mostly to keep order in class.
I remember her as a very, very hard worker, who earned income from working at times for the more “well to do” families in West Bay Central, but that was secondary to her devotion to the work of the church compound.
It seemed to me her one desire in life was to own her own home and, that was a goal she worked toward. She succeeded in building one of the most beautiful small one-bedroom homes in West Bay at the end of Uncle Jimmy’s Lane in Boltins Avenue. She gave God thanks her entire life after she built it, and made it very special, so very proud and satisfied that she as a single woman had built it, and it was special.
There you would find the most impeccably kept home, you could not walk in it with shoes on, and if you were respected enough by her to be invited in, you had to take your shoes off before entering, and once inside, talk in a whisper. She got all of the sand and gravel needed to build the house from the beach herself, taking it from the beach in a basket on her back. For years, she did that until she had enough to build with.
She loved the hammock and kept one in her kitchen, which was a very lovely one-room wooden building a few feet behind the main house, and she often slept in it. She was a devout Christian, and was one of the most hardworking women in Cayman, who took pride in whatever she did. The smallest deed was a great accomplishment to her. She never drove a vehicle or rode a bicycle. She never married, never had a boyfriend (and told me she never wanted any, as none was good enough for her.)
When I was first elected over 34 years ago, I worked to get her a proper paved road, as she did not have one to her house. And when the road was built with the help of McKernel Miller and his wife Glenda Miller, who were her neighbors, and who gave land to widen the 4-feet path she had. She was one of the most grateful constituents. She prayed for me and offered me counsel. Her nephew Kenneth Colmore assisted and helped her through some difficult times.
She has many family members left, but in particular to mourn her passing are nephews and nieces, most notably Judge Eileen Meyerhoffer and her sisters; Sister Reba Manderson of the Church of God at West Bay on Captain Reginald Parsons Drive; Oralee Hydes of West Bay; Corine Glasgow’s father and his brother, who are her nephews; grandnephew Craig Merren; nephews Brother Darvin Ebanks of the Church of God Chapel West Bay and his brother Kenneth Ebanks and their families; her niece Marion Powell and her brothers Carson and David Bush; niece and nephew Bernice and Conolly (King) Ebanks; her church family and many other family members and friends throughout the island and overseas.
Cousin Estelle lived to be 105 years old. She was honest and paid no attention to other people’s affairs, except that for which she was tasked to do. Her testimony was good and I believe she is resting – sweetly resting – with Jesus, her Savior, and ours too.
May God’s light perpetual shine upon her.
McKeeva Bush, Speaker of the House, read this eulogy at Ms. Bush’s funeral service on Nov. 20.