Eulogy: Paul Rodney
Hello, everyone. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Earl Inniss, Paul Rodney’s nephew (and Paul’s sister, Florence Inniss’ son).
Paul Christopher Rodney was born on March 6th, 1937 to parents Albert Rodney and Viola Samuel Rodney.
He attended Barrouallie Anglican School. After school, Paul became a Laborer, where he developed a keen aptitude for measurement. In fact, while observing the skilled masonry tradesmen, he picked up the trade on his own and became a Self-Taught Mason and Handy-Man, and a very good one indeed. I have been fortunate to have witnessed some of his skilled work in my lifetime but more on this later.
His early education and guidance from his parents, helped to shape the kind of man my Uncle Paul turned out to be. He was a loving and caring father to his children and a loving husband to his wife Elsa Rodney (now deceased). Paul and Elsa got married on April 24th, 1965, and they had the following kids together: Albert (aka Bert), Keila, Kenard, Cristobal (aka Chris), Esla, Selwyn (aka Sellie), Erma (aka Girlie), Jean (aka Nicey) and of course, Louise. Uncle Paul always wanted the best for his children. He wanted them to become better and more successful than himself.
My Uncle Paul also had two children with Carol Reese: Diana (now deceased), and Jasmine….
Now, I don’t quite know how the story goes, but I’ve heard that some time ago (in the distant past), Aunty Elsa (Uncle Paul’s wife) got wind of the fact that Uncle Paul had a thing for Carol (her good friend). So one day, when she went to confront Carol, Carol suggested that Aunty Elsa ask my Uncle Paul for herself because at that specific moment in time, my Uncle Paul was hiding under the bed.
Uncle Paul was indeed a skilled tradesman, evident by the house that he has built here in Barrouallie at Morgan Bay, and, I recalled first-hand, seeing him renovate our house in New Montrose, Kingstown to include a staircase so that we would not have to walk outside to get downstairs, especially late at night.
Now, this is the Paul Rodney that I’ve come to know and love: A man of faith and dedication but before I elaborate, consider this…
My Uncle Paul has been there for us, especially my sister Erica and I, when we lost our dad at a very tender age (to whom Uncle Paul was a great friend, and more like a brother). I was seven and Erica was only four years old. But, really and truly, even before I lost my dad, I loved my Uncle Paul and I believe he loved me too.
You see, at my own dad’s funeral, I was so busy hanging with Uncle Paul that I didn’t even had time to cry. I later learned that both my mom and Erica were at the grave side crying and screaming as the coffin was lowered into the grave. I later broke down and cried about two weeks later, while I was at home alone (realizing that my dad was gone forever), but the day of the funeral, I was alright…many thanks to Uncle Paul.
My mom, who couldn’t be here as she has some health challenges of her own, recalled the good times, as well as the not so good times, growing up with her brother. She shared with my sister and I, that during World War II, time was tough, they couldn’t get grocery to buy; not even flour. Therefore, their mom, our Grandmother had to serve them arrowroot cooked with plain fish, and I understand that when made like “coo-coo” (as a meal), you had to eat it when it was hot so it wouldn’t taste so bad. However, Paul would stir and stir it, until it got cold, then with disdain and with a heavy “tied-tongue” said one day, “Me nah want dis ya, dis ya sit!”. Uncle Paul always spoke his mind.
Growing up fatherless, Uncle Paul sprang into action (I would like to think of him as Super Man) and became father figure to us. Here’s why I say that…
Although he had a family of his own, he was around at our house frequently enough to instill some discipline on a couple of my bigger brothers. I could almost hear them now chatting amongst themselves as to how much leverage they were going to give Uncle Paul. I will not call any names, but I recalled one of my brothers saying, “Uncle Paul can’t touch me you know,” but he was so wrong about that.
Now, in retrospect, I marvel at how Uncle Paul managed to be the father figure in two household: His own… plus, ours.
Some many years ago when my mom was ill and had to spend time in the hospital, Uncle Paul gladly took my sister, Erica and I, in to spend time with his family until his sister, my mom, recovered.
That first morning after we arrived in Barrouallie, all I remembered was very early that morning, they were waking me up. Now, I would have preferred to be sleeping, but I soon came to understand that we were being awaken to have devotion, a time to read God’s words and pray on our knees…before our Uncle Paul leaves for the day to go toil in the lands. I soon adapted, as these moments were special, but I could only imagine how it might had been for my cousins; especially when they had to wake up even earlier (say like around 2am) when Uncle Paul had to go away (on overseas trips for example). Since we’ve come back for the funeral, some of my cousins have reminded me that those earlier times were a
bit tough to handle. But, that was my Uncle Paul. Later, on one of my many trips back-home to see him, he would explain to me that the reason he had devotions every morning, was that he wanted to feel the closeness with his family. I always thought it was some deep religious conviction.
Often times, during these morning devotions, two wooden plaques accompanied him: One engraved with the words, “I know” and the other, “If I did know”; demonstrating that at an early age, our Uncle Paul had adopted a great philosophy and that is: You Gotta know because what you don’t know can and will hurt you – he was wise beyond his years.
That family closeness spoke of earlier was felt and exhibited almost instantaneously the moment Keila came in town and pick us up to the very last day of our stay here in Barroullie. I had so much fond memories and I know my sister, Erica, did as well. When we came to spend time with you, you treated us as if we were your own brother and sister. This is further evidence of the high caliber character of a dad, the man Paul Rodney who had instilled such great values within all of you.
I recalled Esla and I were jumping on the bed and beating each other with pillows...I recalled being out at sea with Chris and Kenard...not knowing how to swim but being comfortable; knowing that both of them can swim like fishes...inside caves; getting Wilks off of the rocks...looking up and seeing bats (a whole lot of them).
Accompanying Chris and Kenard in the mountain only to return with mountain crabs to eat in soup. That was a Barroullie experience of a lifetime that I shall never forget – thank you!
Your dad has helped shape my life and has positively contributed to the man I am today, and for that, I shall be forever grateful.
When someone leaves an impression on you, you can’t help but want to come and see them each time you visit the homeland.
In conclusion, it is so easy to want to blame others and even ourselves for the loss of a loved one.
But, I would like to kindly ask my cousins and all of our family members to let this occasion unite us as one family. Let this be the dawn of a new day where we all come together as one big happy family; like I know we are capable of becoming.
I am reminded that it is okay to let life touch you, but don’t let it kill you...don’t let it separate you. Even the Master/Teacher when he walked among men was moved with love and compassion and as the Bible tells us in John 11:35, “He wept”. In other words, it is ok to cry. If the Master did, who are we not to?
You see, when I lost my Uncle Paul and reflected on all the good this man has brought in and to my life, the tears kept flowing. Uncle Paul has never shown me any ill-will, or bad face. He’s always been so gentle and yet stern. He personified the bible verse in 1 Corinthians 13:11 that says, “when I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Meaning when I was a child, he spoke to me in a way that I could understand, or needed and when I became an adult, he spoke to me as an adult and revealed certain things to me. My Uncle Paul was one of the coolest dudes I have come to know. I’ll miss him dearly.
I recalled him showing me his tombstone, already made so that no one will say that he made for everyone but not for himself, but one thing he couldn’t predict was the date of his death (at that time). Granted, I’ve learned that before he passed away, he was certain that he was going to pass before someone who was his elder who came to see him in the hospital.
Getting back to the tombstone, who could have imagined that the date missing on that tombstone would be my birthday. There I was last month, responding and saying thank you to all of the persons wishing me a Happy Birthday on Facebook and around 2pm or so, my mom called me with the sad news that my Uncle Paul had died. I shall never forget. In fact, it appears that Uncle Paul has made sure that I won’t. I don’t know the date my own dad passed away, but I’ll always remember my Uncle Paul’s. May his soul rest in peace.
At first, I grappled at this but I am comforted by the fact that I was able to reason with him one more time (last month to be exact), before he said good bye to this world. He lived a full-life (beyond three scores and ten). He was a good citizen of humanity, a great husband and father…and to me, and I’m sure many of my siblings will agree, an awesome uncle, surrogate father, and friend. He is an icon.
To all of us who are gathered here today (families, friends and acquaintances). Be encouraged! Grief may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning!