Take the time to capture the moment
Howard “Hubby” Charles, a man who was born, bred and was lifelong resident of our beloved parish of Devonshire.
For the past few days, I have been wondering how best to remember my dear cousin — dare I say my dear double cousin — “Hubby” aka “Black Cowboy”.
Maybe I should best remember him as my older cousin, related to me on both the Charles and Famous side of my family. As he, and his dearly departed sister, the late Rita Peniston, liked to remind me, I was named after their father, my great-uncle Thomas Charles.
Maybe I should best remember him as the first person to put me, at age 4, on top of a horse and tell me, “Hold on tight and ride that pony, bie.”
Perhaps the memories of watching him give horse and carriage tours to thousands of tourists from his post on Front Street for decades — no doubt giving them lasting memories of their unique Bermuda vacation.
Then again it could be the memories of recently spending time with him cutting grass across different parts of Devonshire to feed his animals. Indeed, with his collection of livestock that included horses, rabbits, chickens, ducks, goats, a pig and a turkey, he was the living embodiment of Bermuda’s very own “Old McDonald”.
For some reason or the other, one could venture to say the will of our ancestors, Cousin Hubby and I got to spend more time together in the past year or so than we had in our entire lives.
I recall vividly the endless family stories and history that he felt duty-bound to make me aware of:
• Uncle James Browne, father of Dame Lois Browne-Evans, driving horse and carriage to raise funds to build the legendary Clayhouse Inn
• Our family giving up land in Devonshire to allow Watlington Road West to be built
• The various crops grown on our family land for multiple generations
Anyone who knew Hubby could testify to his love for farming and husbandry. You could not have a conversation with him that was not dominated by talk about either of those topics.
One of our last conversations was in reference to him trying to find a male pig to breed with his female pig, and a female turkey to mate with his male turkey.
In his own words: “Chris, that turkey is following around the chickens a bit too much. The roosters are getting jealous.”
The only other topic that held higher importance than livestock was his love for family, with him constantly telling me to bring the younger relatives to see him and to visit the homestead.
Saturday, February 24, 2018 was the last time I had the privilege to have an audience with “Old McDonald”. I took a younger cousin, Antoine Richards, to meet his legendary cousin and to see the family homestead.
They talked for quite some time about family history and, of course, the topic of getting back to growing our own crops to feed ourselves. Antoine was somewhat spellbound by the entire experience of walking the very land that his great-great-grandfather, Herman Charles, once walked.
Before we parted, a voice spoke to us and said: “Capture this moment.”
So, you see, it will be impossible for me to single out any one memory of Cousin Hubby.
However, there is one lesson that I will not only carry for the rest of my life but share with anyone:
Life is very brief, and we know not when it is our time to depart. No matter the minor quarrels, differences of opinion and/or lifestyles, family history, stories and relations are paramount. Please take the time to visit your family and share time and tales with them.
Most of all, please “capture the moments”.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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