Shirley Foster

Shirley Foster

11/16/2016 12:35:33 PM

Shirley Mae was the fifth child born to Vera Sands and the first to  Norbert Sands on March 2, 1942. At a young age, it was clear that this child was different.  Her sisters Thelma, Sylvia and Patsy were quiet and  reserved.   But Shirley, Shirley was  this plain speaking, not afraid of anyone, feisty young girl.  Where did she get  this passion ?  A question Ma couldn’t answer.  Her younger brother Esme, known affectionately as “Bill” got tired of running to find Edward the older brother to come rescue Shirley  from  the  Western Junior and Senior School grounds;  one could bet his last dollar Shirley was in the middle of something, and her opponent, twice her size and height.  Her brothers would drag her home, and by that time Ma would have heard and prepared a bucket of water to dunk Shirley’s head in to cool her down.  Stories were told  that it took three to four dunks to get this child to cool off.  Passionate Shirley gave her life to Christ at age eighteen, and began a Christian walk in 1960 under Pastor Earle and Violet Weech at Evangelistic Temple. Her passion was channeled toward the church and the work of the Lord.  She stood her ground on every issue, never intimidated, never discouraged.

Shirley left the Temple and followed Pastor Weech  as  they worked to build Calvary Bible Church.  She was  active in the work needed to support and build the sanctuary from 1962.  Her commitment and dedication to CBC never waivered, and  over the past fifty-four years   she sang a beautiful alto in the choir, and served in various ministries always working to advance the kingdom.  AWANA, Sunday School, Care Kitchen, and The Christian Counseling Centre  will go on, but would never be the same without her.   All who knew her, knew the labor of her love and commitment. Once Shirley was on your team, the team was guaranteed success.  If tickets needed to be sold, items needed for donation, help needed to support, ask Sister Shirls.  She had a way about her that  you just couldn’t’ say “No”, when she asked.   Her effervescent personality was as big as life itself and she never gave up until she had done her best. 

Shirls enjoyed her life and excelled in everything she did.  She worked  as an X-Ray Technician at the Princess Margaret Hospital, a Stewardess at Bahamasairways  and an Insurance Agent with Star Insurance. So many friends  and experiences over those years, stories that she told with pride as she reminisced  often about the people she was closest to during those times.  Deep down she wanted to do her own thing; she loved to travel, shop and dress up, so there was born the idea to open  Sanfra’s Boutique, the place to shop  for your little girls’  Dorissa dresses and matching ensemble. Her taste in clothing was second to none, and Sanfra  was her little model, albeit on a Sunday after church she was never pleased with Sanfra’s one sock up and one down, missing purse and rumpled hair  Her business was a success, and  many times she had to double her shopping travel abroad to meet the needs of her  customers.

For someone who apparently couldn’t boil water without burning the pot, it was inconceivable as to why Shirley would want to move into the food catering business.  There was an opportunity for her to establish a daily food service at Nassau Christian Academy School in the early 1980’s, and there she remained for the last thirty-three years, serving her last curry chicken and white rice for $2.00  on the day before her departure.  The teachers, administration and most of all the children over those many years are what we know kept her  energy high.  She looked forward  to her daily run and prepared her meals with love.    Everywhere  and what seemed to be all the time, some young adult embraced her, reminding her of  how many years she fed them at NCA.   Her generosity very often extended to so many; it became clear that she was more concerned with giving  and filling a need, knowing confidently that God would continue to bless her as she blessed others   Giving, was truly her life’s service.  Clem recalls one day going home to meet five or six little boys sitting on the wall at the house.  Before he could question them, Shirls came from the kitchen with her hands full of food. The story is told that on her drive home she saw a group of school boys walking , and  slowed her vehicle  to ask them if they were hungry…like a choir they said “Yes Ma’am!”  She said, “Follow me.”  and  that, was who she was.  Giving, Sharing, Loving, Blessing, asking nothing in return, because she did it for Christ.

Shirley always said that she prayed to the Lord to send her a good man,one who would be a loving and supportive husband and  who would be a partner with her  through life’s journey .  In December of 1968 she met the love of her life, her soulmate and forever friend, Clem Da Gem.  God truly answered her prayer as there was no greater love. Theirs was a marriage blessed with special moments, and unique experiences.  Shirls was always planning the next step forward, and always had Clem’s full and dedicated support.  After the choir sang on Sundays, she joined her husband in their regular pew and sat like newlyweds.  If you didn’t know them, you’d never believe they were approaching their 50th  anniversary. 

They  were blessed to save one baby girl after the misfortune of miscarriages.  Sanfra Aniece was the joy  of their lives. Desperate for another baby, Jason Clement was adopted into the union and completed the family circle. Shirley lived to serve her family and take care of their needs.  She was loving and nurturing and gave her all to ensure their happiness.  She took her children , godchildren  and many of the neighborhood children to church every Sunday for years.  She knew that  a life without Christ was  a life without a foundation.  Her church and serving the Lord were primary in her life. 

At age 65, her first and only grandchild, Jada Kristen  was born.   As she said so many times, Sanfra was the surrogate, the baby is mine.  Their hearts entwined from birth and as Jada grew, so did their love.

Over this summer Nana saw it fit to explain death and dying to  Jada, a conversation Sanfra was upset to hear about as it seemed too “heavy” for the baby. She told her that if Nana ever left her on earth, it would only be to protect her as an angel, and that one day they would be together again..  

The question today is, was she trying to prepare us ?  She told Jada that Nan’s  house would become hers and sat back and enjoyed a hearty laugh as Jada told her about her plans to transform the house and of course build a pool.  These conversations now mean so much more to us, as there was no clue that her departure was right around the corner.

Shirls lived a happy life. She was content. She was catered to. She was the Queen of the house. She had good friends and warm and caring family members.  She loved her surviving  sister and brother and looked forward to spending time with them.  They checked in on each other, and kept each other informed  about family matters.    All who knew her were guaranteed  a welcoming smile, a good laugh, and  a  plate of food.  She gave unconditionally, she gave whole-heartedly and she gave with love.

She was looking forward to the CBC Ladies 2016 Annual Retreat weekend at Breezes  on November 4th.  Her bags were packed, nail appointment set and she reminded Sanfra and Jada not to call her as she wasn’t taking her cell phone and would be gone until Sunday.  She was upbeat and happy, focused on the Presidential campaign in the USA,  and behaved   as though she could vote on November 8th.       

If Hillary only knew the committed support she had in the Marathon Constituency. She  had no complaints and no pain up to bedtime on Thursday.  Sanfra said the usual goodnight, sleep tight at 10pm.  At 1:30 am on Friday, November 4th , a sudden discomfort woke her from her sleep and caused Clem to rush her to the Doctors Hospital Emergency Room.  It was there at 11:40am she transitioned from time to eternity. Shirley Mae, will forever be loved.

May her soul Rest in Peace.

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