They built our first house on Cap around 1981 or so, and we lived there on and off for almost 12 years. Now and then we rented it out, but generally speaking the rentals were a disaster. Supervision was minimal but expensive, as was the finder’s fee each time we changed tenants, and the demands of the renters were totally unreasonable. One lady brought her dog. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a dog lover par excellence, but this lady was paranoid about her dog mixing with the wrong society and insisted that we fence in a small restricted area round the house in addition to the already existing fencing all round the border of the property. We were in and out of the country on a regular basis so renting was not really a viable option.
But the picture was not totally negative; we had one really good experience. A certain young man who now manages one of our finest hotels rented the house for his family for a while, and, despite the experience of living in a “Caribbean Cottage”, we have remained friends.
Then our son and his buddy from Sweden took a year off their Engineering Studies at university to come to St Lucia to supervise the building of our new house; they stayed in the “cottage”. Actually, if you can imagine, Dear Reader, that houses can have feelings, and that there is any justice in this world, the period that Martin and Anders lived in the cottage was pure retribution for all the tricks the house had played on us since we moved in. How the poor cottage must have suffered!
My wife and I recall arriving at the cottage from Sweden for a short stay to check on things. The taxi had brought us up from Hewannora and deposited us and our luggage outside the cottage in the fading daylight, and we had just entered through the front door, a little bemused that there was no one there to greet us, when a whirlwind of a woman swept past us.
“Tell that man that I never want to speak to him again,’ she announced and flounced out of the house to disappear in a cloud of dust behind what we, until then, had thought of as our jeep.
‘Who was that?” I asked my wife.
“No idea,” she replied.
And that was our first encounter with “Our Cathy”, Cathy from L’Anse Road, Castries, our future daughter-in-law, and mother of three of our five grandchildren. Our daughter and her husband are responsible for the other two; they live in Colorado – but that’s another tale altogether.
We soon got to know “Our Cathy” – well, we had no choice. She was obviously the one for Martin, or was Martin the one for her? Who knows about these things? Do opposites always attract? Are soul mates made in heaven? The fact of the matter was that we had somehow inherited a whirlwind of a girl full of ideas and energy, and as scary as hell – in a loving sort of way.
“Michael,” she would say, “when you move into your new house on top of the hill and grow old and incapable, I’ll put you in a wheelchair and push you off the cliff!” I mean, what could be more loving than that?
Interracial marriages can be difficult at times, but so can intercultural relationships. Martin married a St Lucian tornado. I married a Swedish girl when Sweden was a far, far different country from England, Our daughter married an American and moved off into the Rockies of Colorado. Life’s like that.
I recall one evening when Martin and I were sitting together having a father and son special moment talking about life in general, the future, the past, all the wonderful things we had shared, watching the grandkids jumping into the pool just as the sun was setting, and wondering about the meaning of life, the universe and everything, and we touched on the topic of relationships.
It was one of those moments of introspection when you wonder why things have been as they have, and how things will be in the future, and how did we get from there to here … We almost touched on the randomness of life and why people ended up together as lovers, husband and wife, and best of all, best friends.
Martin turned to me and said, “It’s simple, Dad. You and I, we love difficult women!” Now what my wife would say to that, I dare not think.