Saturday, April 04, 2009

Farewell My Neighbor


By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.


It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Lionel Gomes. He was a gentle-man, a family man… a good man.

He was also a stalwart – in politics, in the labour union, in calypso and in the affairs of Greenbay and Grays Farm.

Of course, when I was growing up, I didn’t know that Lionel… I knew Lionel as my next door neighbor… my quiet, reserved – yet forthright neighbor.

Why forthright? Well… though he was quiet and mostly spoke in a soft voice, when it was necessary he could be firm and forthright. And that came out in his demeanor, his voice, and his actions.

When he moved his family away from Perry’s Bay, Lionel still maintained his presence and interest in the neighborhood. He became involved in community issues and solidly supported and was committed to Baldwin Spencer in his early efforts to win the hearts and minds of the people of Greenbay and Grays Farm.

Over the years and since I moved away from the area… I did not see him regularly. But each time we met it was in our old neighborhood… chatting with Mr. Nicholas and his wife – an elderly couple – our old neighbors who still live – well – next door; or he was visiting or attending a meeting at the constituency branch office; or he was involved in or lending his support to some other meaningful and creative community project. 

The last time we met it was about 50 yards away from where we had spent so many years living side by side. As I looked into his eyes… even though I knew that he was fighting… his spirit was strong and I could see that he was still forthright, still rallying for the people of the neighborhood, still concerned about our issues… our children, the crime, the need for development…

And most of all… he was still giving his all – his total support and unequivocal commitment to his friend… who is now the nation’s Prime Minister.

Lionel Gomes… steadfast… resolute… peaceful… committed…

Farewell Lionel – my neighbor. Rest in peace.