Aug 2020 06


Posted In Blog,The world

If there was a Pirate in the family, it would’ve been my Uncle Mick.

Youngest of my dad’s brothers, he passed away this week in Belize.

Growing up, I’d heard stories about Uncle Mick. Everyone in the family had one. He was larger than life.

Drinker, philanderer, runaway, and charming as heck. The ladies of Belize City knew of Uncle Mick. Even in his later years, he flashed a silver tongue and possessed a unique boldness.

More than a couple of decades ago, my cousin Mark (Mick’s nephew) introduced his fiancee, Denise, to Uncle Mick when they ran into him on the streets of Belize City. After their brief hello, and parting, Denise told Mark that she already knew Mick. Not by name, but he was legendary at the grocery store where she worked. When the cashiers gave him his change, he would hold their hand, gently caress it, look into their eyes and tell them how lovely they looked today.

When I saw the family tree, I wondered who this ‘Raymond’ was as one of my dad’s siblings. It was explained to me that this Uncle ‘Mick’ was actually named ‘Raymond’. When Raymond was very young, he ran away one night. The Belize City Police picked him up. They asked him who he was. ‘Mickey Mouse’ was his reply, taking on a popular persona of the in vogue 1930s cartoon character. It stuck. Mickey he was from then on.

I met him all of twice. Once when I was too young to remember. There are photos. And once in the last ten years when I dropped in on him during a trip to Belize and he had slowed down a lot.

But the stories live on. An interesting man. An interesting life. Loved and hated by the same people, he cut a drunken, jolly, cavorting swath through this world. He left behind a lot of hurt, to be honest.

There is a piece of land in my family on an island off the coast of Belize. My cousin built a small resort on it many years ago (Tobacco Caye – you should visit) The bar? It is on Uncle Mick’s piece.

No one ever said how he felt about it, but the whole family thinks it was fitting. The best times are had there. And certainly some times that are filled with regret in the sober light of the next Belizean sunny morning.

My favourite bar in the world. Fittingly, built on an island once occupied by Pirates. And every Pirate story, if you didn’t learn as a small child, is completely true.