Eulogy For George Leon Cyrus
April 8, 2011
Eulogy For George Leon Cyrus

by Dr. A. Cecil Cyrus 08.APR.11

MY FIRST COUSIN George and I met only on rare occasions in Layou, in the thirties, at the Cyrus family home known as Top House.’ But our close relationship began in December 1963 when I returned home after 13 years in the United Kingdom, and it continued unabated for 47 years.

At his first visit to our home, I was delighted to know that he was an electrician. Unlike many others, George was not content to learn his profession by hands-on experience only. Having apprenticed himself at the beginning of his career, he then thought it vital to seek proper, formal training in Barbados in 1963. There, he received a Diploma from the National Technical School, Los Angeles, California, and the USA. Further, he did a course in Radio, Television and Allied Electronics, and so, he used to make his own radios. As a result of his formal training, not only did his competence improve considerably, but equally important, he could enjoy his profession much more.

George had high standards, and these began with reliability. His work was not motivated by money-grubbing, and so he never rushed into promising to complete anyone’s work at his or her request at a specific time, when he knew quite well that he could not meet that definite deadline. My wife Kathryn always commented on the exquisite neatness of the electrical work that Ron and Gary did for us from time to time. We learnt that, while they were George’s apprentices and later, co-workers, if ever they did any shabby work, which was rarely, Georg made them undo it and conform to his exemplary standard. A very strong man, he could cut a trace in concrete with a cold chisel and hammer in record time, with ease, and was upset that his apprentices, especially Ron and Gary, scrawny youngsters in those days, could not mimic this feat.

He was a man of integrity, and no one could accuse him of charging too dearly for his work. Hence, he was much in demand all during his long years of practice in his chosen profession. And I know from the report of some of his clients that he lowered his charges to accommodate those who could not afford to pay his full fee.

George was a true Christian, for he practiced and exemplified that sine qua non of Christianity, namely, doing good to one’s fellowmen. In this regard, he was a hardworking member of the Lions Club, helping to raise money to be spent on projects involving various communities, especially the material welfare of the indigent. It is common knowledge that, an ardent churchgoer, he was also equally committed to raising money for the Methodist Church. Moreover, he took pleasure in doing much of the electrical work on this church and the one in Layou, gratis. A tireless worker, he was never too weary to help someone in an emergency. He had a sense of humour, and enjoyed his work so much that, whenever he came to do anything at our home, he usually began by reciting in poetry-style some amusing bit of nonsense which I had never heard before, at which we both laughed, and so, we got off to a good start, because, like myself, but much less so, he could be grumpy and testy at times.{{more}}

Last Friday afternoon, at my home, Sharon, Gary, Clive and most of my family and I had a vintage session discussing the amusing foibles of this humble man. And we convulsed in laughter as his children enumerated, with relish, so many of the amusing sayings which were his trademark that always evoked healthy laughter, and which made him a unique person. Perhaps the most famous of these were the two words which prefaced and punctuated his work, namely, “Buy local!” in this category was his habit, while he worked, of calling out of the blue the name of some well-known personality as a refrain, like Brian Lara. A healthy buffoon, George also invented a new language as, with a serious face, he uttered words and expressions which were not decipherable as English or any other conventional language. Up to today, his children do not have a clue what those words meant. But that was the man’s way of providing comedy and light relief from the demands of work.

He used to call various persons “Sonny”, regardless of their age. Gary relates that while he and his dad were rewiring a house, the 80-year-old owner who had Alzheimer’s disease, approached George while he was working on a switch and asked him rather pertly, “What qualification do you have to do this?” George, with savoury irritability, chided this man, much his senior in years, “Sonny, stop your silly nonsense,” inducing much laughter from the bystanders.

He used certain pet abbreviations to describe some of his favorite persons, H.F. horse face, and U.F. ugly face, evoking laughter from his family. When Gary got his driver’s licence, it prompted the comment from George, “You bought your licence. If you hit my vehicle, you had better ask the sky to open and take you!” Whenever Sharon teasingly addressed him as George, as my Helen likes to do to me, his rejoinder was, “I am not George, I am Mister George to you!”

Clive recalls that his dad had a “laser-like focus on punctuality.” We laughed as he related that, at mornings, when his father gave notice that it was time to get in the car for school, after the lapse of the statutory few minutes, he closed the car door and drove off, leaving behind any delinquent. And even though that stray child ran and caught up with him down the winding hill, he would not open the door. So, his children learnt to be punctual. George suffered from the Cyrus disease’ of rising very early in the morning, and so, he did not think it amiss for him to telephone anyone at that ungodly hour. Friday was market day for him, and he was present outside the market at least half an hour before it was due open.

George was a man of excesses in his provision for his family and home. He used to complain whenever he did not find his utility bills in the postbox, and so, he always paid excess sums to ensure that he was not in arrears. Up to today, some service providers have surplus money on his account. He did the shopping for the family, and his children joked that, whenever he went to the supermarket, he used to push the trolley beneath the counter and sweep everything on the shelf into it. When his family scolded gently, his retort was that it was for a rainy day. There are still two or three turkeys in Ruth’s freezer from last Christmas.

Ruth and George were married in 1964. The Greek philosopher Plato reassures that “In no other respect does Man come nearer to the Gods than in his ability to give life,” and, another writer, Sexton, extends this concept when he states that “The gift of life refreshes the earth with joy and beauty.” Victor Hugo, another philosopher, takes these thoughts to yet a higher level when he observes that “The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.” The Indian sage, Tagore, endorses these views by stating that “The fact can never be ignored that we have our greatest delight when we realise ourselves in others, and this is the definition of love.” And, finally, my favorite poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, soars even higher in one of his poems:

“..All love is sweet, Given or returned. Common as light is love, and its familiar voice wearies not ever. Like the wide heaven, the all-sustaining air, it makes the reptile equal to the God, Those who inspire it most are fortunate, but those who feel it most, Are happier still…”

Is it not remarkable that love is so powerful that its presence among even lowly animals makes them the equal of the divine Being? Every word of these philosophical browsings is truly applicable to the union of Ruth and George. Ruth was not only George’s wife, but, as in my case, she was also his mother, for all women are, by nature, instinctive, compulsive mothers to everyone. Not only did she look after his physical comforts, but she provided a shoulder on which he could weep when life challenged. George, in turn, was her tower of strength, her Bastian in the face of adversity, for theirs was a good, genuine, enduring, old fashioned partnership, so very rare these days. But, even more sublime is the fact that their six offspring filled their parents’ lives with love, warmth and tenderness in ever-increasing amount as their eleven grandchildren continued to provide this precious commodity, love. Let me remind certain members of Ruth and George’s family whose names I dare not call, that we are all still waiting for their input into the pool of grandchildren to continue the enrichment of Ruth’s life and ensure the physical immortality of George.

George’s only surviving brother, John, described his character with the simple words, “George was loving and kind.” His sister, Louise, endorsed this. He was so kind and generous with his money that two of our grandchildren, who had not seen him for years, when told of his death, remembered him as the man who had given them money for Christmas. He was humble, loyal to friendship and respectful and considerate to everyone. But, most importantly, George was a wonderful father who over-provided for his six children in equal measure, Ron, Dale, Gary, Cilve, Lennox and Sharon, the only rose among the five thorns. And they have not let him down as they have all fulfilled his expectations.

We shall miss you, George, but we take comfort in the knowledge that, because of your exemplary, unselfish, Christian life, you will be immortal, not only in the thoughts of all those to whose lives you brought cheer and comfort, but in heaven itself. Farewell, Sonny, as you so loved to call everyone, rest easy in the quiet of eternal peace and fellowship with the good ones who have paved the way for you. Let me remind you, however, that when you have settled in and found your way around heaven, please do not forget to encourage everyone, especially the large, Cyrus clan, to “Buy local!”