A sombre atmosphere lingered at Lluidas Vale Pentecostal Church in St Catherine on Saturday (November 3) as a relatively large number of people converged to give Mary Patience a send-off befitting a peacemaker.
She died on September 15 after attempting to quash a stone-throwing dispute between two of her close male relatives at her Lluidas Vale home.
Immediately after the incident, there was uncertainty as to whether Patience died of a heart condition or was hit accidentally with a stone. One of her sons subsequently told The Beacon that a post mortem revealed that Patience died of ‘trauma to the chest’. “The impact of the stone was the reason for her death,” the son further said. The Lluidas Vale police, in the meantime, are yet to disclose how they are treating the matter.
Patience worked as a janitor at her alma mater, Lluidas Vale Primary School, until her illness prompted Principal Uvelyn Barrett-Rose to recommend her retirement.
“I looked at her one day with tears in my eyes and said ‘Mary, it is time [to stop working]’, and she conceded,” Barrett-Rose said in what appeared to be a frank speech delivered at the funeral.
The principal further explained that, after she made certain observations, she had to implore Patience to visit the doctor.
She said Patience was taciturn about her illness. “I googled the medication [she received] and I came to recognize that she had a serious heart condition. Actually, two of the [three] medications she received [at one point] were for the heart and one was for the pressure. It was at this point that I said to her, ‘Miss Mary, I don’t want you to be sick to this point and continue to do this work’.”
Patience eventually closed the professional chapter of her life.
Barrett-Rose, a native of St Ann, recalled that Patience was among the first employees she met when her tenure as principal commenced about 10 years ago, adding that Patience later became one of her two ‘most trusted’ friends in Lluidas Vale.
She noted that Patience, like everyone else, had a good and not-so-good side. “Mary seemed to move as a quiet and docile person, but touch her corn hard enough and there you would find a hard nut to crack,” the principal said. “She was miserable, but she wasn’t miserable for no particular reason.”
Barrett-Rose further stated that staff members at Lluidas Vale Primary – in separate conversations – spoke highly of Patience’s work ethic. “They all said she was a hard worker… They said she was humble; she was respectful; and she goes about her duty in a quiet way. They all said she would enquire about their health and about their children – those who had children at the time [she worked at the school],” the principal said.
The sentiment that Patience was a hard worker was shared by Virgina Miller, who delivered the eulogy. “She worked well; she was industrious,” Miller said, adding: “She always gave a helping hand whenever necessary.”
Miller said Patience was a homemaker, who eventually worked at Worthy Park Sugar Estate for a year, then at Lluidas Vale Primary from 2004 to 2014.
“Her children were taught to be loving, obedient, truthful and kind,” added Miller. She said Patience has 13 grandchildren and six sons – Kevin Gordon, Gerald Gordon, Marvin Samuels, Challamar Cyrus, and twins Demar and Dermar Cyrus. Most of them donned burgundy shirts and white pants at the funeral where they also served as pallbearers. Some of them cried.
Demar, who is overseas, lamented not being able to attend his mother’s funeral, but he noted that he ensured that she received a proper send-off. “My mother died as a peacemaker; she was well respected; she was a nice woman,” he told The Beacon.
Meanwhile, Pastor Vincent Forbes, who delivered the sermon, urged persons in earshot to live upright, especially because their ‘expiry date’ is unknown. He recalled attending Lluidas Vale Primary with the late Patience, whom he said was a quiet person even in childhood.
Patience was born on June 3, 1966.
Here are some of the moments captured at her funeral: