My grandfather died and it struck me more than I expected. Why? Because he has been senile for more than a decade and a half. His senility, I thought, would have better prepared me for his passing but it hadn’t. Grandfather (as we called him) loved me more than anyone else has in my entire life. His love was pure, forgiving, not demanding and unfiltered. I was his T and he was Grandfather who didn’t care what my mom or grandmother thought about him bringing me sodas, sweety and patties at the most inopportune time (inopportune to them).
He lived until age 92, an age that many of us can only hope for and he passed away in his sleep without pain or anguish. For this, I am happy and for this I am grateful to the Supreme Being. His death and funeral signified many things for me. It showed me the true colours of many and it proved the strength and awesomeness of my mother. She, being Grandfather’s only child took on his funeral like a tribute to his life. Everything was done the rural traditional way of Jamaica. We had a ‘grave-digging’, a ‘nine-night’ and we had the funeral in the pouring rain. We had the manish water drinking, the curried goat eating and the rum drinking. Having been senile for so long he had been out of the community for a long time; having lived so long, most of his peers were no longer alive. With this in mind I questioned my mother’s judgment on having the funeral in the country and for bothering with all the rural traditions but she maintained that it was the right thing to do and now I can say she was right!!!! The community came out and supported Mr. Forrest, the arrangements were made and executed in true Jamaican spirit. Mr Forrest would have been happy right down to the green paint that adorns his grave.
In preparing to give the eulogy I spent much time reflecting on my grandfather and realized that he had a major influence on my life – more than I ever thought. He is the real influence for my having entered politics and as such I had no choice but to end the eulogy with SHOWER Grandfather, SHOWER Labourite (the JLP political slogan). Grandfather was a simple man, a very simple man in terms of his means but a mighty man in terms of how he loved us. Will I forget him, will my children know about him? Yes they will because if it is the last thing I do they will learn the words to the song “Sly Mongoose” because in my mind he would have been singing it to them all the time had he not been senile. Every time the song crosses their mind they will remember that to make a mark in life one does not need power or wealth. To make a mark in life one needs a good heart and a love for others. That is who Grandfather was and that is what they will know and remember.
Sly Monoose how yu name gone abroad
Sly Mongoose how yu name gone abroad
Mongoose seh him an Bedwood a memba
Bedwood seh him nuh quite remember
Rest in Peace Grandfather (Oct, 1919 – Aug. 2012)