Eulogy for Monivet Phillips
by Andrew Simmons, through the eyes of Jungo’s daughter, Teshorne Caine
I just read an excerpt from a book entitled the “Spirit of Bird Island” written by Andrew Simmons, my father’s nephew. It is a bio-novel set in the 1970s on “Bird Island”, a small cay off Brighton Bay. The story highlights an important past time of the community and is based on a real incident that took place on the island with a group of young men from the village of Enhams. It is a coming of age novel. The book will be in stores internationally and also online by the end of the year. The book is dedicated to my father’s memory.
‘Taking a deep breath, Jungo said, “Ah ready now.”
Jungo looked more physically fit, much stronger and agile than ever. He seemed well psyched up for the task ahead of him. Jungo weighed about 210 lbs and was 5 ft 7 ins in height. He took every opportunity to flaunt his bronze muscular physique. Like a supersonic jet, Jungo ran off covering the distance in eight seconds. He was barefooted and stepped nimbly from one rock to the other avoiding stepping into the seawater collected in the small rock pools from the previous waves, and began climbing the rock to get to the plateau. This took 15 seconds. He climbed agilely, soon pulling his body to the top of the rock. The next wave looked huge and ferocious. We were counting down from the last 10. On the count of five, Jungo positioned himself with his hands outstretched above his head waiting for the water to strike the rock. Bantering and daring the sea to catch him, he stood like the great Hercules on Mount Olympus waiting for the Titans to strike. His bronze body gleamed and reflected the light from the sun into our eyes like a giant mirror. From the plateau, Jungo appeared taller and stronger – almost giant like. The muscles of his forearm were bulging like fig tree roots escaping out of the soil. He stood there mocking the sea, daring it to catch him before he took the dive.
We were there screaming hilariously. “Go Jungo, dive Jungo. Go, go, go, Jungo.” But he stood there waiting and waiting.
“What the hell are you waiting for? Dive off the rock!” Virden screamed.
Jungo waited and waited. We became annoyed because of his action and stopped counting. Our mouths opened wide as we screamed at him to get off the rock before the giant wave struck the rock. He stayed still, not even a muscle moved, waiting for the right moment. It was as if we were watching a movie in slow motion at the Drive-In Cinema at Diamond. Everything now seemed to move in slow motion. As the giant wave struck the rocks, he propelled himself up above the wave and drove himself off the rock at lightning speed. He went upwards, then over in a curved position and then a dive into the sea at a ninety-degree angle. His body struck the water so delicately and with such precision that not even a splash was heard nor seen. His body drove through the sea like a jig thrown by Gun at an iguana. He continued tunnelling through the sea like a torpedo heading towards a World War II battleship. Moving straight towards the iguana, we all waited. We could not believe that any living person could stay under the water for such a long time. The iguana was there still floating and feeling protected by the ferocity of the sea. Although the cave was less than 20 feet from where it was, it did not even bother to move to the safety of the cave because it felt protected where it was.’
As I stand here to present my father’s eulogy, I see friends and relatives that have come from neighbouring villages and also from great distances to pay tribute to my Dad and provide us with support during our period of mourning. I am humbled and quite frankly impressed at how he must have positively touched your lives. I can only speak for myself, but when I think of how he affected my life, two things come to mind, generous and hard-working.
Monivet “Raphael, Jungo, Stone” Phillips was born on Friday, September 23rd 1949 to Eucina Phillips and Meta John of McCarthy. On Wednesday, March 6th 2019 at the age of 69 he succumbed to advanced prostate cancer at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.
Among those left to mourn are his seven children: Linnette Patterson, Leroy Phillips, Violet Walcott, Louann McDonald-Phillips, Aviann Fergus Xaverna Black, and Teshorne Caine; his nine grandchildren including Andrenette & Andrea Patterson, Chinaza Walcott, Chereasia & Oronique McKenzie, Lorenzo McDonald, Kenville, Tyler and Shanique Phillips. Also left to mourn are his sister Mona Gertrude Barker and brothers Rudolph “Norm” Phillips, Leroy ‘Dando’ Phillips and Clifton “Cliffy” Phillips.
Duty, reliability, fearlessness, sternness, seriousness and commitment: these are all qualities that my father not only held in high esteem but practised during his time on this earth. He was a serious and disciplined man, but he could never resist the opportunity to have a laugh with friends and loved ones. He was a giving person, a kind person who will give away everything even if it means that he and his family will be left with nothing. He loved to entertain and hang out with his friends. His laugh was very distinctive and contagious. Even without seeing him, once you hear that laugh, you knew it was him.
My father was known as a ‘ladies man’ and possessed a smooth, persuasive tongue. He was a sweet talker and possessed effective skills in persuading persons to do anything without thinking of the consequences of their actions. From all accounts, he adapted that trait from his mother whose mouth was so sweet and charming that she was known throughout the villages as “Sugar”.
When it came to discipline, Daddy was very stern and very protective of his children. He did not want us to go out of the household or the village late or go out to events other than to church. I can recall I was at college and a classmate invited the class to her birthday party. I told Daddy that I was invited to my classmate’s activity, but his response was a resounding ‘No’. Whenever he made a decision don’t even try to persuade him because you know that he would not be convinced to change his mind.
He was a hardworking man. Daddy, like everyone else, had his bad ways, had a tendency to be ill-tempered, but overall we loved him dearly. His commitment to his family and his hard-working attitude caused him to spend most of his working life on contract cutting cane in Barbados and the USA. He was a very skilled mason, specialised in stonework and tile laying for companies and individuals alike.
Besides being an ardent practising farmer, he loved cooking. His favourite food was boil-up with a lot of different meats. Oh my, he loved corned-pork, and if you give him a chance, he will cook a whole pig or goat and invite the entire village for dinner. We were never out of corned-pork at home.
My Dad was an ardent 3D player. Despite his sickness over the past three years, he would never miss a game, sometimes he will walk from Enhams to Rampy’s shop or Huffle’s Ranch in Belvedere to ensure he got his tickets for the daily games. He was also a dead “Labour man” but one who practiced political tolerance and have an appreciation for persons supporting the other political parties.
Daddy was of a very strong and courageous character. He never concealed his illness from anyone and spoke freely and with humour about his pains and suffering. Although the sickness took all of his financial resources, it never kept him down, except for the last year when he spent time in the hospital. On many occasions we thought he would leave us, but he always bounced back like Lucozade. We would say that he was more powerful than Eveready battery, having more life than a cat or the energy bunny powered by Duracell.
Death is a journey we all have to take. The reality is no one will go to the great beyond until God is ready for them. Despite his suffering, whenever Daddy came out of the hospital, he would continue doing the things he does like working the land, going to buy his 3 D tickets and cooking. In January 2019 despite his pains, he assisted his ailing sister Gertrude Barker to tile her bathroom.
However, on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019 things took a fast turn during the final stages of his life. He felt weak and in pains and had to be rushed to the hospital where he succumbed to the dreaded disease.
I admired my father’s strength, his determination to live. He loved life and always tried to entertain others. He would not want us to mourn his passing but to celebrate his colourful and exciting life. Long live the memory of Monivet Raphael “Jungo Stone” Phillips. In God’s holy name may he rest in perfect peace.