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When best to pay tribute

Antoinette Connell

When best to pay tribute

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A COUPLE OF weeks ago I was talking to a church mate.
The talk got around to death, which we did not dwell on for very long but I was struck by something she said.
Her father had died a matter of years now and she said she had not visited his grave since the day of his funeral. I found it strange. You would at least go back once, wouldn’t you?
This was not the first time I had heard this. My cousin, a Christian, did not visit her mother’s grave either. Neither held this belief out of any malice for their former loved ones.
My cousin said that once the person had died that was it; nothing more could be done.
My church colleague believed that too, and questioned the reason for going to a grave with flowers. The person cannot appreciate the gesture. That should be the prime reason for any such actions, she felt, and then and there I could understand her reasoning.
In fact, according to her, any appreciation should have been shown while the person was alive and could enjoy it.
“Why am I taking flowers to the grave after?” she asked.
It caused me to rethink my position on such a matter. Sure it is okay at the national level to mark the anniversary of the pioneers with lectures and the like. That is part of history of the country or the world. I am sure no one would question whether the life of Mandela should be marked annually. That is in a totally different context.
But recently there were two deaths of people connected to me and I wondered about what my friend and cousin had said when I initially sat down to write this column.
The two people are not here to appreciate my small attempt at a tribute but perhaps somewhere out there it might provide a comfort for a friend or a loved one.
My uncle Junie, a bodywork repairman from Carrington Village, died last month. His death meant that Grannie Callender had outlived all three of her sons (Angus, Patrick, Junie) and her siblings. It is anguish that no mother should be called upon to endure. But life is not fair.
Grannie’s three sons all worked in one form or the other with vehicles.
Angus was the mechanic with Patrick and Junie the bodywork men, though they also dabbled slightly with the mechanical side.
Something that the three brothers also had in common was that they extended a hand of kindness which many often took advantage of. 
Junie, 66, had the capacity to look past many of these indiscretions and turn the other cheek.
He also had the capacity to, throughout all life’s troubles, maintain the philosophy that if you are going to do something for someone, do it and not expect anything in return.
That is why many would turn up outside Grannie’s home with some mechanical problem which Uncle Junie fixed or diagnosed with the appropriate reference, no charge.
It is an outlook that I salute in a world where greed and selfishness abound.
My other sad passing relates to attorney Latchman Kissoon, whom I met back in the late 1980s. He never failed to remind journalists that journalism was once his calling before he switched to law.
Soon after coming into contact with Kissoon he corralled a bunch of us into joining the Rotaract Club. He persisted in ensuring that Maria Bradshaw, Hayden Boyce and I joined the club in order to give back to society. That meant some weekends spent cleaning up a district hospital, collecting and delivering groceries for families or painting and maintaining some elderly person’s residence.
Club members planned, organised and executed all our community events, with Kissoon often peeking in just to make sure everything was in order. Kissoon also spent a great deal of time organising for others to benefit from scholarships offered by Rotary Club of Barbados South.
Some lasting friendships developed out of those weekends spent giving back. Maria Agard, MP, security expert Ricky Swire, siblings Kenny and Krystal Hutson and David Thompson, who still calls around to maintain contact with former colleagues all came together under the Rotaract banner.
More importantly, some of us went on to other organisations where we employed the same attitude towards helping others and continue to do so to this day.
During one of my last conversations with Kissoon, he was up to his old ways again. He was recruiting for Rotaract. 
He told me that my teenaged daughter should be signing up for Rotaract. It would be a good thing, he insisted.
Antoinette Connell is a News Editor. Email [email protected]