Breakfast by the Sea: Anabella Seaga
The large front door of the beach-side villa opened and she emerged casually in a breezy, cover-up, her silver hair tousled in the ocean wind. She welcomed us cheerfully and invited us to sit out on the sandy patio while we watched her husband come in from his early morning fishing trip. She pointed to the boat in the blue distance. How he loved to fish! They were certainly enjoying our paradise.
George and Barbara Bush had invited my younger brother, Andrew and me to spend the morning with them at their villa at Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay and to then fly back to Kingston with them on the famed Air Force Two. They had arranged the excursion with our parents at an official banquet the night before. It was the 1980s and our father was the Prime Minister of Jamaica. Vice President Bush and Mrs. Bush had been asked to attend an event hosted by our parents, Edward and Mitsy Seaga in Montego Bay, Jamaica. During dinner conversation, the Bushes expressed that they tried to expose their children and grandchildren to whatever interesting events political life afforded and that our parents should leave us in their care the next day. Our mom protested that they needn’t go to the trouble but it was decided; flying on Air Force Two (as if meeting the Vice President of the United States of America wasn’t enough) was an opportunity that just couldn’t be missed! We were to be picked up from our hotel at 7:30 AM the following morning and taken to Half Moon Resort. Known for their exclusive beach-side villas and exceptional service, Half Moon was selected as the appropriate accommodation for the official visit.
Escorted by Secret Service, we made our way past the green lawns and walked around the private villa where the large front doors opened to the ocean at the rear of the house. It was a bright and beautiful morning and Half Moon’s trademark whitewashed villa walls with black window trim were set against the golden sand and ocean blue. The smell of the sea wafted through the early morning air. Barbara Bush seemed a serious lady… she was genuinely concerned as she asked us about our interests and our adjustment to public life. She gave us her words of wisdom based on her family’s experience in politics. We later learned from our mother that this was their true reason for wanting to meet with us; to make sure that they had done what they could to prepare us for the ups and downs of this new life. Although we had been in the public eye all our lives, it was our first time as First Family, and as children thrust into the spotlight, we wanted nothing more than to fade into the background. The relaxed setting and her sincerity put us at ease as we discussed our new roles.
Mrs. Bush expressed how much they were enjoying their visit as well-dressed waiters paraded, balancing large trays above their shoulders. They laid out a myriad of breakfast items on the informal patio table; colorful, fresh, tropical fruit, eggs, toast and to our surprise, Corn Flakes (a rarity in Jamaica at the time). What stood out most in my brother’s 7-year-old mind were Half Moon’s resident blackbirds dotting the patio, busily scrounging for crumbs, their ‘caws’ punctuating the sound of the lapping waves.
Just in time, the small boat pulled up with a Jamaican captain at the helm and the tall, slender figure dressed in shorts and a cotton shirt stepped out. I noticed that Vice President Bush was barefooted, his brown hair unbrushed and I suddenly felt overdressed and uncomfortable in my long pants and kitten-heeled sandals. “I wish I had worn shorts”; I thought.
Mr. Bush walked over and sat beside us at the breakfast table. He chatted with us, relaxed and cheerful, remarking how much he was enjoying our Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and telling us about his fishing trip. I was surprised that he took the time to enjoy the ocean… and us. Andrew took a liking to him and from there on, referred to him as ‘Uncle Bush’. Someone from the team said we had to take a picture with the Vice President and motioned us to sit on a short wall with the villa in the background. While teenage me wondered; “Is my hair in place, will my white pants get dirty?”, Mr. Bush, still barefoot, hair rumpled and holding his coffee cup sans saucer, enthusiastically smiled for the shot.
We have met many famous people, but none showed the keen interest in us that the Bushes did. The care and grace they showed us left an indelible mark on me. Was it the carefree setting of Half Moon Resort, was it just who they were as people, or simply the combination of the two? I later came to learn that the close-knit Bush family thrived on visits to their family home by the sea in Kennebunkport, Maine. What a pleasure it is to know that we could offer them a bit of home, right here in Montego Bay.
Anabella Seaga-Mian is a business facilitator and commercial/ residential Coldwell Banker real estate agent. Anabella enjoys living in Orlando, Florida with her husband and children and makes frequent trips with them to Jamaica. She can be reached at [email protected]Back