by Linda Straker
- Angela Bishop addressed ecumenical service to commemorate 19 October as National Heroes Day
- Maurice Bishop described as man who put country over family and legal profession
- Bishop preferred minimalist lifestyle while representing Grenadians, many of whom lived in very modest circumstances
Angela Bishop, wife of deceased Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, described her husband as a man who put country over his own family and his legal profession when he returned from England as a lawyer in the early 1970s.
“My fellow Grenadians I was not happy with that decision. You see, Maurice Bishop was not Maurice Bishop back then; he was just Maurice my husband, a young father making idealistic choices as he always did, but choices that had an impact on our family,” she said at an ecumenical service to commemorate 19 October as National Heroes Day.
“Maurice never made choices to see how much he could get; he made choices to see how much he could give, how much he could serve — very important words and that sounds lovely, but it was, but it had an impact. Maurice often chose service over outings with our family, and I will see the disappointment on our children’s faces; I share that only to convey the deep and abiding love Maurice had for Grenada and for you the Grenadian people,” said Bishop.
“This love and commitment to our people was paramount for him and it never waived…he had a keen sense of right and wrong when it came to advocating for justice and the desire to be of service to those who did not have,” she told the dozens in attendance at the service attended by Head of State Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade, Head of Government Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell, several Cabinet ministers, former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and other members of Parliament.
“The desire to be a driving force was powerful…as he continued with his idealism and service, I was the wife of 2 young children trying to make sure that they had what they needed, so I continued to encourage Maurice to take cases from people who actually had the ability to pay legal fees and not just from people who will pay his legal fees from backing up a truck in the yard on a Sunday afternoon and offloading plantain, dasheen, breadfruit, callaloo and bananas,” she added.
“Of course, Maurice will receive this payment as if it were pure gold and as if his deepest wish was to receive payment like breadfruit for his work. My fellow Grenadians, the one and only time that Maurice did not answer a question was when I asked him which bank was taking breadfruit and callaloo as payment for our loan. There was complete silence,” said Bishop, a nurse by profession.
Informing the audience that Bishop was a man who preferred a minimalist lifestyle, she shared his reason for adopting a humbler regime for his family and home. Bishop said the family went looking for a new house after the revolution because of safety and security issues. The existing family home was close to the main road. They had to give up the dream of residing in a home with winding stairs because it did not reflect the average Grenadian at the time.
After the viewing, she had to tell the children that they would not be living there. “Sure enough, he later explained to the kids that he could not be living there while representing Grenadians, many of whom lived in very modest circumstances, while he lived in such a modern upper class. It did not seem right to him,” she said.