DIANE PHILLIPS: The smallest gesture

IN a week marked by major upheavals and startling events, and after a few months of columns devoted to relatively heavy topics I thought we could use a little light-hearted break. So today Page 9 is dedicated to those who help, care and share whether an idea or an act.

It’s a litany of laud-its and plaudits, praise for the smallest gesture and a chance to take a deep breath and say, it’s all good – and mean it.

The topic of a few kind words about a few special people came to me as I collected a box. I had flown over to Florida to get this box of parts for an engine that is significantly older than half the population of The Bahamas. The box didn’t weigh much, maybe a pound, but it had taken the company that ordered the few parts inside it a lot of time to collect them and here I had it in my hands. I proudly carried the cardboard box back to Nassau along with an ancient engine head on a small cargo plane and loaded my car with the few other items I purchased. (I am a believer in Shop at Home, the job you save may be your own). When I got home and opened the trunk of the vehicle, no box. The old diesel engine head was there, still wrapped in bubble wrap and the original green John Bull bag I had taken it to Florida in so the shop could see what parts were needed, but no box of parts that I had used my exemption (first time in 2024) to clear. I panicked.

The next morning, I returned to the FBO. No one had seen a loose cardboard box. Over the next few days, I called everyone who could possibly help. Customs remembered and tried. The cargo airline. Reception. No luck. Yesterday I drove out again, this time with the offer of a reward and looked to the outside crew. Everyone scrambled. And the box was found, located by the same nice young man who had secured it when he saw it lying there with the rain coming down on it the day after my return flight. He had done everything right, securing it, hoping one day someone would come looking for it requiring a government ID to release it. No one had thought to tell the outside crew that someone had been calling and scrambling to find this little cardboard box of parts. He was just hoping that someone would come and collect it. The only reason the story is worth sharing is because of the words he spoke to me as I handed him the small reward. “Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked. “You don’t need to.” I assured him he would find a good use for the money. And he did. His wife had called a little while earlier. Their car had broken down again. He told her he did not have the money to fix it, but he was sure something good would happen. Our hands touched. He looked at me and his eyes melted. The cost to fix it was exactly what I had just handed him. “God is good,” he said, “God is good.”

The next plaudit goes to Government House. It was Jonathan Ramsay (Balmian Antiques) who many years ago in a tourism meeting said they should take down the wall in front of Government House so people could see the majestic lines of the building and its vast grounds. Not much happened in the decades since his casual and clever observation. Visitors in taxis and rental cars were forced to pull over and peer over the wall and through its openings to get a glimpse. This week, there was an amazing transformation. A change in landscaping opened the vista to the public and Government House on Mount Fitzwilliam in its new paint and polish after a multimillion makeover stood out like the majestic, stately structure deserving of the title. No one misses the old Christopher Columbus statue that was smashed and removed. She is the proud lady overlooking downtown and the harbour once more from a vantage point atop the hill.

And her new look reminds us it has been a long time since we heard about the Governor General’s Volunteer Bahamas created under the auspices of then Governor General Cornelius A Smith. Volunteer Bahamas would act as clearinghouse where individuals or organization searching for volunteers for a short-term or longer project could post their request and those who want to offer volunteer service could make their availability known. Overall, it would reinstate a culture of volunteerism in a country with so many needs better met when people unite to make things happen. We have heard little of the visionary CA Smith since he demitted office and returned to Grand Bahama but we thought his parting words on the evening of his farewell were worth repeating. Here is what he said, “Together, we have weathered many storms; both natural and otherwise. And every time, we have emerged stronger. Our history is testament to our ability to overcome adversity and embrace the opportunities that lie before us. So as I demit office, I am confident that the Commonwealth of The Bahamas with all of its challenges, all of it complexities, is still the best little country in the world in which to live, to work, to play and to raise a family.”

As we wish Governor General Cynthia Pratt every success and the joy that comes with the position she deserves, we thank the former Governor General for reminding us that even when things are rough, The Bahamas is still the best little country in the world in which to live.



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