Meet the Humans of the Keys

Meet the Humans of the Keys

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Jess Bush, Key Largo

I was born in Mississippi. My family moved to Alabama when I was 10 months old. My Mom was a seamstress for 32 years, and my Dad was a Truck Driver for 30 years. They worked hard and provided my brother and me with all we needed. I grew up in a small town just north of Orange Beach, Alabama, called Elsanor. Elsanor is mostly farms, fields and churches. I grew up in a Pentecostal Church. My parents love living in the country and it was their dream to own some land and have room for horses and such. Although we never owned a horse of our own, we had pigs, and dogs, and ferrets, and birds, and possums, and pretty much anything I got my hands on to bring home. I also helped out on the neighbors farm with all her goats, donkeys, horses, chickens, and such.

I grew up with a passion for music and animals. I played in the school band for 7 years learning how to play flute, oboe, trumpet, piano, harmonica and later the guitar. I also love to sing! You've probably seen me bopping along in my truck going up and down US 1. I always have a tune in my heart!

My passion for animals started young, with my pawpaw’s dog, a cocker spaniel named Penny. She was my best friend. I remember snuggling with her at the age of 2. I've had many animals over the years that I can't forget, but the one that I currently belong to is my baby girl, Rizzo! She is a chubby little dachshund, full of the best cuddles and kisses, and so much love. She rescued me about 5 years ago. She'll be 7 in December.

Somewhere along my journey of life, I lost me. I gave up what made me happy, gave up my dreams to the world. I felt like I was simply existing, instead of living. Busy with work, everyday drama and partying, I didn't feel good about myself, and my relationships were suffering. When I finally had enough, I decided to make a change. I needed to go my own way, find some peace, and find my happiness again.

Not long before I got Rizzo, I was working for an Insurance Adjusting Company. We were working claims from Hurricane Sandy. We worked 7 days a week, 12 hours a day for 8 months straight. I was tired and in desperate need of a vacation before the next storm hit. In March of 2013 my job was finished, and I had a few months off. I decided to take an extended vacation to the Keys, where I had only been once for a very short visit. With no plan and “iffy” on where we were going to stay, I packed up Rizzo and off we went, with just a few bags and an open mind.

I met a lady online who had a place to rent, and she also had 3 sweet little dogs. It was beautiful; right on the water and surrounded by all sorts of animals! My first morning I was greeted by a family of manatees! I have always loved manatees, and this was my first time seeing one in person!! I wept with joy and at that moment fell in love with the Keys. Every morning I had coffee on the dock with the manatees and Rizzo, with my camera in hand! I know I drove my mother crazy with all the pics I was sending her every day. She didn't mind though; she was happy because I was happy.

After 2 months I decided to get a part time job, just to have something to do and someone to talk to. I didn't know anyone and I was very lonely; I needed some human interaction. There never was another storm, so I never went back to Alabama to work and my vacation turned into a move. About a month later I met a HUGE group of amazing ladies and gentlemen who welcomed me into their circle. And almost 3 years later I'm still here!

I have worked at Berry's Paint in Key Largo for almost 3 years now. I have a beautiful home, and I've found such an amazing group of friends and family that are so very close to my heart. Rizzo has a best friend as well, his name is Kenai; he's a Blue Chihuahua and he loves his Rizzo! I attend Key Largo Baptist Church. If you are looking for an amazing church family, please come! The members of this church are so sweet, humble, and inviting. My first time here I felt like I had always been here. Everyone hugged me and talked to me and told me just how happy they were that I was there. That's how it is every visit! The services are uplifting and heartfelt. I can feel God moving through the hearts of not only me, but every person there. It's an amazing feeling to be able to attend a church that is growing and that not only hears God, but listens for Him!

But, sometimes life throws us curve balls. At some point God will test our faith. Since March of 2015, my Dad has been fighting cancer. He has to be the strongest man I know. He was diagnosed in March, and finished treatments in May only to find out it had spread. He had surgery in September, and I spent 3 weeks with him. On top of that, he has been suffering with lupus for the last 5 years. Life sometimes isn't fair and only God knows why the good ones suffer. But my Dad came out of surgery, and after we thought we would lose him, he is cancer free!! After numerous complications from surgery he is just now beginning to get better. Still on a feeding tube, but strong willed and eager to get better so they can come visit me for the first time here! I cannot wait!!!

Although I miss my Mom, Dad, brother and friends back home in Alabama terribly, and I do visit often, I couldn't trade my life here. It is beautiful! I love being able to be up close with all the different wildlife; boating, camping in the Everglades, riding horses, going fishing, visiting with friends and my Keys family and church family, seeing the beautiful water and sunsets, and being able to enjoy all the amazing things that God has blessed me with! I truly believe I was supposed to stay here. I have found my happiness again. I know that God has a plan for me and my life, and now I'm LIVING for Him!

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