Holy Family Cathedral
Michael’s Mount, Antigua
Good afternoon, Church.
No more that burly gait
No more that joyous face
No more that radiant smile
No more that resonant voice
No more on this earth, my brother,
Yet, in my heart, he is here.
In my bones and in my marrow,
Carty lives on.
In my memory,
In my every conscious moment, he
stands beside me as he always did.
My brother, and my friend;
my true friend!
The chain of love he forged
Has not been broken by his
Nor has it been in the least bit weakened.
If anything, the chain has grown stronger.
Reaching beyond this mortal life
To that better place where
Carty must be
Laughing and happy in the company of the Almighty.
I do not pretend that I do not feel anger at his loss.
I do not pretend that my heart is not
bursting with the grief of his passing.
I do not pretend that I do not question why.
I do all these things
And, I cry inside, as I weep outside.
For Carty did not deserve to die so young and so sudden.
So, we come today to mourn the passing and celebrate the life of Cortright Mason, my friend, my brother, my comrade. We all feel the deep sense of loss for a loved one who is cut down in his prime enjoying the fullness of life still filled with so much hope, so much dreams, so much love, and so much more to give; so much more to share.
For Cortright Mason, was still a man in his prime with today’s health care fifty (50) years is still a young age, and none of us expected him to be cut down so suddenly without warning, without him knowing that he had any major health issues, without any time to say a proper goodbye.
But we have lived long enough to know that life is not fair, and none of us are guaranteed this precious gift of life.
We live every day by the mercy of God, and to him we must give constant and incessant praise accepting his mercies and using every day to do good, to be kind, to love, to share, to live.
In a hymn written more than 150 years ago and known by most of us across Antigua, the inspired songwriter addressed two desires for which all humans yearn—love and joy:
There are depths of love that I cannot know till I cross the narrow sea,
There are heights of joy that I may not reach till I rest in peace with thee.
My friend, Cortright Mason, was deeply loved by his family and friends, before he crossed that narrow sea. We all experience the heights of joy which comes from knowing love, as it flows between and within family. Love erases barriers erected from fear.
Cortright Mason was born in Antigua 50 years ago, on February 4th 1963.
This island was then an extremely poor colony with a future waiting to be shaped by our greatest National Hero. Carty’s beginnings were humble, much the same as his parents’: Gwendolyn James of Pares Village; and Hamil Mason of Willikies Village. He was born when sugarcane and cotton dominated the landscape.
My friend was nevertheless steeped in the culture of his island-country and village. He attended Pares Secondary School and was an ardent and dedicated cricketer from childhood.
Carty was likely emulating his athletic father—Hamil Mason— who was among the best all-rounder in Parish League Cricket. Carty owned as much cricket gear as any professional cricketer. He loved a cricket match even more than he loved a music concert, and spent his scarce resources on mastering his favourite past-time.
Most of his friends knew him as “Fungi” or “Golden Eye”; and many friends will remember Carty as the very first engineer for the Burning Flames. He was a graduate of the Institute of Audio Research, in New York, specializing in Audio Engineering.
Carty learned to perfect many of his engineering skills at ABS, his first employer. Carty ensured that everything was just right whenever and wherever the Burning Flames played. He was meticulous and highly rated.
Carty provided his engineering skills to 90% of all bands in Antigua, more often out of love for his work than for any material reward. He was not an acquisitive man. He wanted to be the best sound and technical engineer in Antigua, displaying his skills at every venue where bands played.
Carty’s last big event was the Wadadli Beer Calypso Monarch Competition at Carnival City, this past August.
That was before he knew that he was deathly ill.
I became a very close friend of Carty through Annette Aflak, my cousin and Carty’s love. When Annette became pregnant with Antoinette, I would place my ear on her growing bulge so that the baby’s heartbeat could become audible to me. Procreation is a miracle.
Although Annette has two brothers, Allan and Paul, I always felt that her parents received the greatest joy from their only daughter and therefore loved her the most.
There are heights of joy that one may not reach, till one rests peacefully with the inner self.
Yet, all sons know only too well that many fathers are capable of withdrawing love temporarily, while mothers love their children continuously and forever. My Uncle Aflak is a man; he is a father, a great father!
The racial divide which Annette and Carty crossed was cause for friction, at first. Yet, no-one in my family loved and cared for Carty after Antoinette was born, like Annette’s Daddy, my Uncle Aflak.
There are depths of love that one cannot know, till one crosses certain narrow seas.
Christ, the son of God, came to earth to share this message with all of God’s children. God is love! Love one another like God loves you.
It is surely the case that Carty was very much loved, and that he showed love in abundance over his 50 years of living. He was the father of Cochien (Cochen), Anesha, Shazierre, Darrien, Nicole, Laurel-Ann, Courtney, Teandra, Zenicia, Tehrique and DeAundre, and Antoinette.
But, although he loved all his children, Antoinette was his pride and joy, making him proud when she graduated from Devry University in February, 2012. Up until he was on his sick bed he insisted that she return to University to complete her Bachelors Degree at Richmond University in London.
Within the final weeks of his life, Carty turned his life over to God. While in the Baptist Hospital in Florida, he told my sister Teresa-Anne that Annette was the best angel sent by God to rescue him in eternity. He told Teresa-Anne how much he loved Annette’s parents and his own parents, his Aunts and Grandmother, his children, and how close he felt to Annette’s mom, Lolita.
He insisted on having the Hail Mary’s reproduced in writing so that he could read them at will.
Carty before his passing forgave everyone that hurt or wronged him, and he begged God to grant him forgiveness. He was prepared to meet God. He was prepared to cross those narrow seas.
The 21st of October 2013 brought with it an end to a well-lived life. My friend Carty Mason passed through this earth and left his mark. A relatively poor, undiluted African-descendant male from Willikies Village learned to love a Lebanese-descendant, but Antiguan born woman from Crosbies. Love, we have seen, conquers all.
“But, man is lonely by birth
Man is only a pilgrim on earth
Born to be king
Time is but a temporary thing
Only alone while on earth….”
Antigua and Barbuda is about to celebrate its 32nd year of independence; and, since Carty’s birth in 1963, we are about to hold the 12th General Election in our country’s history.
While these public events and milestones help to define us as a people, our country relies collectively on the quality of the private lives which we live in order to measure our progress.
Cortright Mason lived through many changing scenes in life, in trouble and in joy. In the final analysis, when he found God, my friend Carty found heights of joy that only he can relate.
And as the Great Lebanese Artist, Poet and Philosopher Khalil Gibral wrote, and I quote;
“The Reality of Life is Life itself, whose beginning is not in the womb, and whose ending is not in the grave. For the years that pass are naught but a moment in eternal life; and the world of matter and all in it is but a dream compared to the awakening which we call the terror of Death”.
“The soul is an embryo in the body of
Man, and the day of death is the
Day of awakening, for it is the
Great era of Labour and the rich
Hour of creation”
“Death is an ending to the son of
The earth, but to the soul it is
The start, the triumph of life”
May his soul continue to rest in eternal peace.
Amen. – Ho’n Asot Michael, MP