Mrs. Onyx spent the first eight years of her life in La Ceiba where she attended “Charles Elliot” open school. She was an out of wedlock child and receiving her father’s last name took some time.
When she was just a couple of years old she went to live with her grandmother, Flourene Hynds, in Lucy Point near Coconut Garden. Her grandmother was an active member in the island’s Methodist church. All-in-all in 1930s there were 12 Methodist churches scattered through Roatan. The Westley Methodist church in Coxen Hole was the islands biggest. Bethesda Methodist church in Flowers Bay was the island’s oldest church building. Reverend Fred Cooper from Utila was the minister there. Ebenezer Methodist church in Coconut Garden was the closest one for Mrs. Onyx to attend.
Mrs. Onyx remembers in late September of 1941 a “Nicaraguan” category four hurricane battered Flowers Bay especially hard. The entire roof of the Bethesda church was blown apart. Many people lost their homes, but a sense of community was strong and the houses and structures were rebuilt soon. “Within a week it was up,” says Mrs. Onyx, about the rebuilding of the church’s roof.
Life for her was full of diversions and activities. “We used to have fun, we had picnics, maypole, plat pole,” remembers Mrs. Onyx who graduated from sixth grade.
She married at thirty-two. Her husband was Ewans Stewart, a preacher and a sailor from Flowers Bay. So, in 1961, Mrs. Onyx moved to the “Tom” area of Flowers Bay. Her home was just fifty paces from Roatan’s oldest church structure, the Bethesda Methodist church.
Her husband worked as a shipmate on Egoral, a boat belonging to the Litrico family. She had made several trips to Belize and Utila, and one memorable trip to Guanaja.
She became a housewife looking after the house and the couple’s one child – Allan. Mrs. Onyx participated in Church as much as she could. She would sing gospel hymns. She recalls “Blessed Assurance,” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful” with particular fondness.
She would grow cassava, popo – or sweet potatoes, bananas and plantains. The family had a cow, a horse and some pigs. There would be plenty of fish for the taking. She would just drop a line outside of the channel in Flowers Bay and grunts, yellow tails and snappers would readily bite the hook.
I can still hear the animals when they holler.
Old age has brought challenges. Mrs. Onyx has been blind since her early 80-ties. She spends her days sitting on a tall wooden chair on her porch facing the sea. There she listens to the sound of the wind, to the sea, the breeze moving the leaves of sea grape trees and caressing her face. “I can still hear the animals when they holler,” says Mr. Onyx. “I am proud of so many things. I still can walk.”
Her son Allan had a stroke, and was disabled, he now lives in the same house as Mrs. Onyx. Her granddaughter Nelcian takes care of both of them. She cooks and sweeps the modest wooden, unpainted house. “Honor your father and your mother and your days be prolonged,” says Mrs. Onyx in her soft, silky voice explaining how she arrived at her old age.