EDITOR, The Tribune
As I knew Patrick Bethel, here is my salute to an incomparable national hero.
While heaven has regained an enlightened soul, we have lost a being of enormous wisdom, knowledge and knowingness. A long-life teacher of exceptional skills, intellect and Patrick was chosen to be the first Bahamian principal of The Bahamas Teachers’ College. Thus, his sense of educational excellence, fair-play, none discrimination and noble humility, fostered extraordinary elements of traditional commitment and dedication in the souls of our pre and post-Independence trained teachers.
Patrick was colour and status blind, not in the physical sense, but mentally. He saw clearly and cherished all the wonderful creations of God, no matter status, creed, colour or political inclination. I personally cherished these special gifts of his. As with myself, he belonged to no political entity or paid homage to any. However, he was ferociously political in the true and original sense of that term. His passionate caring for the wellbeing of our ship of state was second to none, not even the avid party politician.
However smart, intelligent and wise he was, he did not hesitate to seek advise from others, even from me his junior by some nine years. Politically objective, and fearing no man, when he had to speak out on, or write, about issues plaguing our country, he would not hesitate to call me any hour of the day or night to seek my advice before he went public on burning national concerns. I felt an extraordinary and humbling pride that such a soul being would consult me.
I always cherished and looked forward to my visits to Abaco, joyfully anticipating my interaction with Patrick. He always insisted that I join him and his beloved wife, Margaret, for one of her cooked meals with some special desert created by her loving hands. Then, of course, there was always the regular Saturday morning breakfast at THE FAMILY ISLAND RESTAURANT in Marsh Harbour. There I was privileged to commune with his assembly of geriatric friends. They were some ten of them usually. I was some ten years junior to the youngest in the group. What a crop of souls with whom to enjoy a Saturday morning! Talk about a “grumpy” old bunch of adorable men. Even Hollywood could not muster up such a crew of individually eccentric and specially talented beings. My encounter with them always filled me with insane joy and the bliss of the aged. I choked with laughter as I feasted on my delectable stew conch, listening to their taunting each other. I cherished those moments with their infinite wisdom matured over many years on this planet Earth.
Then, of course, on every occasion leaving to return to Freeport, Patrick had my box of goodies packed and ready to go, including every variety of frozen seafood and produce from his garden or farm he partially “owned”. If perchance the freezer was bare or the garden not producing, he was certain to have a box flown over to me when goodies were in store.
Then came Dorian! He found it necessary and convenient to relocate to Long Island, my home island. Not long after settling there, I received a call from Patrick. It was no longer a call to seek my advice. He was simply full of joy and jubilation. He just wanted to share his happiness with me. “Joe”, he said, “I could not on any place on earth find more gracious and loving people than those on Long Island.” At this very moment, I can still feel the joy and happiness pouring from his grateful heart. That my good and honorable friend could speak so highly of my childhood home confirmed even more that there is no place so cherished in my heart than Long Island.
From Long Island, Patrick was not able to return to Abaco, but finished his sojourn on this earth in the arms of his son Marcus in Nassau. Patrick adored his two sons, Marcus and Colin and their children. Spenser, Marcus’ son was the vibrating string of his magnificent heart.
Rest in peace my brother in the arms of Abraham and Margaret. Back here on Earth you will forever be dearly loved.
JOSEPH DARVILLE – a cherished friend
May 20, 2020.