Healthy Soul

Goodbye, Sydney O. Beaumont, Ph.D.

I was playing around with my new Flip video camera so decided to interview him, my Uncle Sydney, the only uncle on my father’s side of the family. He was born on March 9, 1918. Leslie, my Dad, born July 14, 1920 preceded him in death on November 1, 2006.

Aunt Dorothy & Uncle Sydney (Ezra Fider in background) at the funeral of his younger brother, Leslie R. Beaumont, Snr.

Aunt Dorothy & Uncle Sydney, with cousin Ezra Fider in the background, at the funeral of his younger brother, Leslie R. Beaumont, Snr.

Of course I’ve known him all my life, knew that he and the love of his life Dorothy Elaine West Beaumont were married December 27th, 1950, and that he so desperately wanted to outlive her, so he would always be there when she called. She was in the advanced stages of dementia; he was having problems with his sight.

Uncle Sydney with fresh picked lychee from his farm. Each bunch would be shared among the relatives and family friends. Everybody enjoyed the harvest.

Uncle Sydney with fresh picked lychee from his farm. Each bunch would be shared among the relatives and family friends. Everybody enjoyed the harvest.

That summer afternoon, two years ago, we chatted for hours on his verandah. The verandah cradled in fruit trees, many of which they planted over the almost fifty years of living in the same home. The enclosed verandah with tables covered with books, newspapers, and pamphlets. As an academician and author he was an avid reader. The verandah on which I played with my cousins, his five sons, while waiting for my Dad to pick me up after a day at Beaumont’s Comprehensive College, the school he founded after giving up the presidency of then West Indies Training College, now Northern Caribbean University.

Uncle Sydney with the three books completed in retirement in competition with his Rotarian volunteerism..

Uncle Sydney with the three books completed in retirement competing with his Rotarian volunteerism.

I did not know that at 25 years of age he left sunny Jamaica to pursue higher education in Lincoln, Nebraska on a scholarship to the Seventh-Day Adventist Union College. I didn’t know that while he was there in Nebraska that his winter coat was among the first purchases my Dad made from his pay for picking fruit on a farm in New Jersey. I didn’t know that he earned his doctoral degree from New York University in 1950.

Sydney O. Beaumont, Ph.D.

Sydney O. Beaumont, Ph.D. March 9, 1918 - July 9, 2012

We reminisced about the time he, Aunt Dorothy, and Daddy came to pick me up from the airport in Montego Bay, the other side of the island from Mandeville, Manchester where he lived. Daddy was driving, but he was the navigator weaving us through the maze of one-way streets back to the highway. We laughed and laughed as we remembered how I insisted on getting fried fish, bammy, and festival at the Westmoreland-St. Elizabeth border and how the car was swarmed with what seemed to be hundreds of vendors enticing us to buy with promises of a “brawta” of one extra fish and festival.

 

Sports complex at Northern Caribbean University. Uncle Sydney served as president 1962-1964 when it was known as West Indies Training College.

Sports complex at Northern Caribbean University. Uncle Sydney served as president 1962-1964 when it was known as West Indies Training College.

My sister Marcia’s text showed up on my phone at 2:17 a.m. Liberian time; sent at 10:17 p.m. from Tampa, Fl. Five hours later I read the two sentences. “Hi Jennie, have some bad news. Uncle Sydney passed away today.” July 9, 2012. Disbelief!

Lychee tree

Lychee tree

I’m too far away to come home to see him go home. I’ll look at that amateur video taken with shaky hands and listen again and again to the story about him winning that political seat for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) that the People’s National Party (PNP) had “locked up” for 27 years, and then becoming Speaker of the House. Yes, my Uncle Sydney taught me to do the unexpected at every opportunity. I love him so much!

What tugs at your heart today?

 

8 Comments

  1. Jenny,

    I celebrate with you, the wonderful life of your Uncle Sydney. It sounds like your life has been blessed by his.

  2. JUST BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Dear Jennifer,

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories of your uncle. I see his spirit in you. Be comforted in knowing the tremendous legacy that he has left for you, your family and all of us!

    Love and blessings,

    Danielle

    • Hey there Danielle – great hearing from you. Thanks for the kind words. I am extremely honored that you’ve seen his spirit in me. Thanks. Lots of love to your family.

  4. Jennifer,

    Please accept my regrets on the passing of your beloved Uncle Sydney.

    You are so bless to have had the opportunity to experience his: wisdom and humanity.

    He left an indelible footprint!

    David

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