Story by Kaelanne Jordan
This Father’s Day will be particularly special for Anthony Bugros.
When his third to last son Christopher was missing at sea, Anthony gave him a one per cent chance of survival.
“…my whole world turned upside down. And I start to say, I cannot bury two…not Christopher…. It would have been very bleak knowing I lost my child and never found him because all roads were pointing in that direction,” Anthony said during an interview with Catholic News last month.
According to Anthony, Christopher, from a very early age was a “charm” to his family and the predominantly Black/East Indian community of Grand Chemin, Moruga where he was raised with his three siblings.
A golden-haired and freckled Christopher transcended all borders of racial lines and religion. He was the first “little white boy” in Moruga, Anthony said.
While life in Moruga seemed blissful, the family left 15 years ago due to the escalating drug trade.
Then 22 months later, their mother Veronica ‘Tita’ Joseph was killed while crossing the street. She had just turned 50.
“I was the happiest man till that fateful day when she died”. Of his four children – the eldest son is Anthony, and then there is Maria – the two youngest, Christopher and Dianne were equally unhappy. He shared when they were around 10 and 8 years old, they would return from school with a red brick in their bookbag.
“They say let we go build a house nah. We not happy in this house; we want we own house.” At that time, they were living in an “old house” in Maraval.
“This is how we grew them up, to be independent and to respect and be humble. And every day I give them $5 and every day they will buy a brick.” Between Christopher and Dianne, they bought 114 bricks.
Anthony’s income came from farming and planting special types of produce such as broccoli and snow peas. “Before I reach my second or third set of customers I done sell out. I didn’t have to go in the market. Well that changed when she died,” he added. “I had to go to work Securicor because I had four children….”
Their rebuilt home, he boasted, was started almost six years ago with the help of his children. “We worked day and night. All these windows, the roof, every single thing we did it. We paid some labour but most of it we did it…. the five of us.”
Moving a mountain
In his own words, Anthony recalled that he heard when his son left for diving Wednesday, April 10 at 3 a.m. At around 4.30 p.m. his eldest son alerted him of a WhatsApp message that a diver named ‘Redman’ was missing in the East Coast.
“…all the time I praying and asking the Holy Spirit to go before me. This is what Fr Ian Taylor taught us, all of us. And that is the time I’m now experiencing how you pray with your whole heart and your whole mind.”
At the Toco Police Station, he studied a marine map of the coastline and calculated that the divers were on Damian Rock. “I say ‘My God, Damian Rock have one of the biggest set ah sharks, 800-900lbs and they tell me it have bigger than that’.”
When asked if he panicked at this point, Anthony responded “No”. “You tell me if I have faith of a mustard seed, I can move a mountain. I about to move a mountain out there. I don’t want the tree, the branch, the leaf, the flower, the root, nothing. I go hold onto my faith. My faith in Jesus….”
He added, “I say if he do what I teach him to do, he’s coming home and you will find him right here.” So, what exactly did Anthony teach Christopher in surviving at sea?
First, assess the situation; you accept where you are and remain calm. Secondly, make a decision on what you are going to do. Thirdly, pray like you never prayed before. Fourth, strip/lighten yourself of equipment. Finally, never give up.
When Anthony returned home at 1 a.m. he lit a candle in Christopher’s room and prayed for his return. The candle went ‘pouff’ at 3 a.m. “That’s the hour he touched land…” he said.
Around 6 a.m. as he was preparing to return to Toco, his brother Ricardo shouted, “ ‘They find him…He’s alive’. And I just remember dropping on my knees with all my weight and I lie down on this earth. I feel my whole hand go around this earth. And I bawl till my neighbour thought they found him dead.”
A Father’s love
His first sight of Christopher was at the Sangre Grande Hospital; it wasn’t an emotional reunion. “As he came out the ambulance he say ‘Dad’ [and] I say ‘Christopher, what took you so long to get here, look, hurry up…’.” he recalled, chuckling. “He start to laugh. We start to laugh. We hug up”.
Glancing at Christopher who sat across the table from him, Anthony said that on this day, Father’s Day, he has learned to appreciate being a father. “I’m not a softy, softy father. I don’t mix matters. I must be cut he ‘arse’ about three times in his life…..”
Questioned on the source of Christopher’s fearlessness, Anthony replied, “He developed it since he was small.” Similarly, Anthony revealed that he too went “missing” at sea for a few hours during his diving years.
He shared one “mistake” he made by diving by himself in the ‘Shallows’ of Tobago. “And it took them a couple of hours to find me. They cried because if they had missed me, they wouldn’t have found me. He [pointing to Christopher] wouldn’t exist,” he said.
Anthony isn’t fearful of Christopher’s return to sea. For now, he looks forward to having lots of fun with his children and sharing laughter.