God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change… With this said.
How do you get over it? How do you lose some one and get over it? …Because ‘it’ is the person you loved. Someone who shared your mother, your father, your sister…brothers. How do you “get over it?”
Syl, as he was affectionately called, was a talented and gifted young man. He followed in his father’s footsteps as an electrician. One of the best, that I daresay this island had ever seen. Syl didn’t have a diploma for electrician but was extremely gifted in reading plans for electrical wiring of homes at an early age. Guess it was in the blood. I recalled daddy bringing plans to him when he needed help. And sometimes, even though the building was already constructed and had an electrical fault…he would find it. Nothing was too difficult for him to fix. Jack of all trades….master of many! Good at anything he put his hands to.
I remember when he started his bus service. He took good care of his patrons, and extra special care for the elderly….. taking them as near as possible to their homes, especially if they were laden with groceries. I can recall meeting a few of them who knew him and expressed what a good person he was to them. Mr Roach for example spoke of the day he met Sylvester, when he rode on his bus and took him to his destination. Sylvester refused to take money from him, no matter what he said to Syl…….He was told that it was ok. That memory has stayed with Mr Roach of Syl’s giving and kind nature.
Enviromental services. To my surprise he started a landscaping business and took landscaping to another level. With updated machines to clean grass. My brother had vision and was gifted with ideas. Anything he put his heart and soul into, he made it happened. I passed by the house just a few days ago…i looked at the mower…and the equipment…and the boots there in his shed, just as he had left them, covered with wet grass, now dried…. from the last lawn that he had cut. I could see his big feet in those boots now.
Then there was Syl the Politician.…Now I am sure many of you knew what a big politician he was!…..He was one of the biggest supporter of any party he chose to support. You could never miss Sylvester, especially during campaign time… His house…his bus…. anything he owns would bear the poster for the party and I hasten to say that sometimes, even he himself bore posters. My brother was one of a kind.
What about Syl the sportsman?….Oh how Inter Primary Sports Day would not be the same. Win or lose for Charlestown Primary school you couldn’t miss him in the crowd, ton load o noise….ton load o shouting…. till he was hoarse. Once he supported you, you would know, because he put himself out there and gave it His all.
…….And then there was Syl the community man. Syl would give and give and give some more….always wanting to help someone who didn’t have it…even if he himself didn’t have it. Always helping somebody out. I remember hearing a quote that said, in order to be irreplaceable, you have to be different….well Syl was different…and therefore, irreplaceable.
As a friend, you couldn’t ask for a better friend than Sylvester Gajor… Genuine, Kind, Caring and Selfless. He extended his kindness to all who he called a Friend. Once he had you as a friend there was nothing he owned or had in his possession that was too good for him to share. He would give the shirt off his back if he had to. One of his many quotes was ‘sharing is caring’.
……Syl was a mentor….oh yes he was….and maybe those who were not close enough to him might find this surprising, but those who he mentored ….in particular, those who worked with him while doing landscaping (SEARCH) know exactly what i am talking about. He encouraged them to make better lives for themselves….pushed them to be better people and to make a positive contribution to society. It was an emotional Doval who we all know as “security” who said that it was Sylvester who believed in him, encouraged him, mentored and moulded him…and above all, Believed in him and gave him a second chance when it seemed like society had turned their backs on him.
He always wanted what was best for his brothers and his sisters, and he had some very ….some very unorthodox ways to show his love. Oh how we would argue…Oh how we would get at each other….Syl always felt that he should have the last to say, the most to say and all to say…
Syl loved his family with such a strong and powerful love. Always asking them…”you love me? You love me? You sure you love me? Because I love you, you know.”… He would tell Mom….”come, gimme a kiss and smooshsmoosh.You only have one son…. so mek sure you love me”. At times, especially when he partied too hard that he would always talk about love, and how much he loved you. I must admit that sometimes, it was very annoying…..but….what we wouldn’t give to just hear him say it one more time….just one more time!
His kids meant the world to him. He was the epitome of what a good dad was.
It was Cherice, his eldest daughter who described him as the driving force behind her education. She recalled how she bawled that she didn’t want to go 6th Form, and it was her father who insisted that she was going…come hell or high water, and that she had it in her to do well…..and indeed she did. She described him as very straightforward, easy to talk to and fun to hang out with as a father….and as usual…always proclaiming his love for her. Her mentor or friend. He was strict…so says Shyan…She could never answer “yes” to any question. He would pull her up right there and ask her…”Miss who you think you talking to?” And she would get it right by correcting her response….”Yes Daddy”
Syl would lie in bed with his kids for hours just talking about life, always advising them and giving them anecdotes that they could live by. Alyssa recalls how he would “smooshsmoosh” her cheeks and make sure she did her school work.
In his 20 plus years of growing up with Uncle Syl, he would always admonish his nephew A J….”Never you be rude to your mother or grandmother, you hear me? Otherwise we would fall out” And of course the response would always come back…”Yes Uncle Syl”
Then there was the face of Syl that we are all familiar with….Syl, the life of the party….When he arrived on the scene, you know you were surely up for a belly full of laughs, and sometimes his interesting stories, (true or false). He was the funny guy…the one with a joke for the occasion…He knew how to have a good time, and also make those around him enjoy his company. I remember the annual trips he would take every year with the Cable and Wireless sports club…he would meet so many people…and people loved him, and loved his company. He was never boring….always full of excitement..flamboyant….always had something smart and cynical to say. But he was such a people’s person…such a happy go lucky kind of funny guy….. (The one who you couldn’t get to behave at a funeral, especially if he was close to that individual)
This was my brother….the brother who I knew…who i grew up with…the one who would always make himself available to go pick up friends and family members from the airport and bend over backwards to ensure they were comfortable.
Sylvester had such a soft heart. Last year September he went up to Connecticut to visit his brother Jackie..He travelled with my son Anthony. Before they took off, I got a call from my son AJ…”Mommy, he said, this is so embarrassing….Uncle Sylis here on the plane bawling snot after having one to many drinks how he can’t believe he going up to the states to see his brother after 19 years. Mommy, this is real embarrassing said Aj.. He’s not bawling quietly.”
…When he finally arrived at JFK and met up with Jackie, poor Jackie, almost couldn’t breathe from the million hugs he got from Syl. Every two seconds…he was hugging…expressing his gratitude to Jackie for bringing him all this way, after all these years.
From 2010, both our parents had bouts of illnesses. Syl was never one to handle these situations easily. We had to call the ambulance for daddy one day and Syl was on hand to get daddy into the ambulance. The ambulance left promptly and was on its way to the hospital. Before we could get 10 yards properly, Sylvester started freaking out….”don’t go daddy….lawd don’t go I don’t want you to die…” before he made me panic.I had to ask them to stop the ambulance and put him out…..right there!!!! He went without protest. He had to catch another ride to the hospital . What a guy eh?
So many facets to this one guy….An altar boy and server in this very Anglican church…..An AYPA member (small wonder that he was always telling his kids that they would have to go to church, just like him, cos he was brought up, not dragged up.)…He had so many different sides…
But he was an exceptional selfless, kind, friendly, giving and a helpful individual….yes, perhaps disgusting and interfering too… He was a son, a brother, a father, an uncle, cousin and friend, and so much more.
Sure he had his faults….and his weaknesses….and the side of him that sometimes would get us annoyed and exasperated….the side of him that he lost the battle with. Because God is never cruel, there is a reason for all things.
No one could ever have known that we would know this pain and deep sense of loss. No one could have expected it. The last words uttered to Shyan were….”you alright?” and after that “yes daddy” response, she asked him that same question…..”Daddy you alright?” And his response was “Yes I’m alright”
…….But He was not alright. He had not been alright for some time…He struggled….and so many of our young people are struggling with that same demon….and loved ones look on…..helpless…..powerless…..unable to do anything that would break this albatross….this burden….this demon that separates and destroys…..
There is a quote that says….
We do not choose to be born, we do not choose our parents. We do not choose to die, nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death. But within the realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we live.
I could say so many other things here, but Iwant to leave with you the words of a poem that I’ve found so fitting for today…
Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free
I’m following the path God has laid you see.
I took His hand when I heard him call
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day
To laugh, to love, to work, to play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way (you can mention his boots at his house)
I found that peace at the close of day.
If my parting has left a void
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss
Oh yes, these things I too will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life’s been full, I savoured much
Good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief
don’t lengthen it now with your undue grief.
Lift up your hearts and peace to thee
God wanted me now; He set me free.