The rainy weather aptly reflected the mood of mourners who gathered yesterday, May 5, to witness the interment of their beloved Michael Johnson, better known as ‘Maxi’.
He passed away on March 28 at Spanish Town Hospital where he was admitted for less than a month.
Johnson had fallen ill in his adopted hometown of Lluidas Vale in St. Catherine.
He was laid to rest near his mother, grandparents and other relatives in the family plot at Buxton Town in Wakefield, located on the outskirts of Linstead, St. Catherine.
The send-off took place amid funeral restrictions, which have been imposed nationally, to help slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Francia Johnson, in presenting the eulogy beneath a tent pitched on the burial compound, said her late father was a strict disciplinarian and a stickler for education.
“He wasn’t the parent who spared the rod and spoiled the child; our mother did that,” she said.
“My father was big on books, and was an ardent supporter of us getting a good education. He wasn’t a rich man, but he ensured that we got a good education.”
Francia further stated that her father became a household name in Lluidas Vale district mainly because he was in high demand due to his profession as an electrician.
“His phone was a hotline, resulting in him having more than one. Sometimes not even a cup of tea he drinks before rushing out of the house… He took what he did serious,” she commented.
Johnson went to Lluidas Vale in the early 1970s while he – a relatively young man then, was pursuing electrical studies at the government’s skills training centre.
While studying to become an electrician, he became emotionally wired to a Lluidas Vale native who went on to become his partner for more than 40 years – Una Douglas, better known as ‘Miss Mirry’.
“Their friendship flourished into a full-time relationship with the birth of his first daughter in 1976. This birth sealed the deal and he officially became a [Lluidas] Vale man,” Francia said in relation to her father.
Her parents ended up having four sons and four daughters, who, so far, have given them a total of 23 grandchildren. The couple’s youngest child, Rasnado Johnson, better known as ‘Lyrical Nado’, is well know especially within music circles in and around Lluidas Vale.
Francia noted that her dad will be missed tremendously by relatives at home and abroad.
“He will be missed by so many; his grandchildren will miss him the most, especially those overseas who won’t see him during their next visit to Jamaica,” she told the gathering.
“The children overseas who are unable to be here [in Jamaica] are heartbroken and will miss their next airport pick-up and drop off in ‘Betsy’, which is the name of my father’s car. There are sweet memories, bitter memories, precious memories, which we will always have to remember,” added Francia, who ended the eulogy in tears.
Monique Minzie-Gutierrez, who delivered the remembrance virtually, reflected on her uncle being an epitome of peace and a pillar of strength.
“My uncle was a pillar of strength and humility, and had love and respect for all. To know ‘Maxi’, you know he was a humble soul. He let nothing and no one bother him… He was not the type to stand up and go toe-to-toe with anyone,” she declared.
She added that the late Johnson loved cigarette, rum and Pepsi, and sorrel drink. He also loved his family dearly.
Monique explained: “My uncle never missed a family function; you could count on him to show up and do his part. He was a family man indeed – and everyone can attest to that. He worked right up until he got sick for his family… My uncle wasn’t perfect, but he was worth being here for us his family and friends.”
A number of Johnson’s friends did not miss the opportunity to pay their last respect. To do so, they travelled several miles from Lluidas Vale to the Wakefield burial site.
Johnson, born 19 July 1956, signed out peacefully at age 64.
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