Saturday, February 24, 2018

'They knew it was time'

Send-off for Jason Johnson's parents


inseparable: Relatives carry the bodies of Stephen Johnson and his wife Nancy  at the funeral service for the couple held at the St Mary's RC Church, St James yesterday. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

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STEPHEN and Nancy Johnson lost their son Jason more than 16 years ago and would later see the accused in his case, Brad Boyce, walk free.

Yesterday, at a joint funeral for them, their other son Sean recalled that they had spoken of seeing him again in heaven.

"One thing both my parents talked about was getting to see my little brother Jason. As time went by it dawned on them it was time," he said.

He was delivering the eulogy for his parents at St Mary's RC Church, St James.

Nancy, 57, suffering with kidney and liver problems for a number of years, was rushed to the Port of Spain General Hospital last Monday.

The day after Stephen, 64, was also taken to the hospital.

He had been in and out of hospital after he fell off a truck on August 1 last year in an accident which damaged his spine and left him paralysed.

Last Friday, around 5.30 p.m., Nancy died and on Sunday around 10 p.m., Stephen died.

Yesterday their two caskets were wheeled to the front of the church to the tune of Frank Sinatra's "My Way".

"They (died) together. Mummy would always say she was the leader and daddy was the follower," said Sean.

He described the closeness of their deaths as "sixth sense".

He said they were wonderful, very unique "pillars" in their children's lives, loving and "open-hearted".

He recalled his father was a "jack of all trades", handyman and mechanic, who would leave his family at home late at night to assist someone with their vehicle.

His father would see a "perfect stranger" in distress and reach out to them and "would give his life for his family".

He noted that his mother was the life of the party and caught his father's heart with her "sweet hand" at cooking.

"Mom and Dad, I will always love you and I will see you when I get there," he said.

His brother Stephen Van Luke read from a Christmas card to his father, one he never had a chance to give to him, telling him that, despite how it seemed, he received every word of his lessons.

"Without you Dad I wouldn't be the person I am today," he said.

Fr Michael Makhan in his homily urged the mourners to accept death calmly and not be like those who drank a lot of rum to drown the pain or those who became angry with God.

He said while they will not see the deceased in the flesh again they were in "God's country".

He noted that Fr Henry Charles, former Integrity Commission head who died on Tuesday of a heart attack at his office in St Mary's, should have been conducting the funeral.

The Johnsons were the parents of Jason Johnson, who died after striking his head following an altercation on September 1, 1996 outside the Edge Nightclub at Long Circular Mall, St James.

Johnson later died at hospital on September 16, 1996. Following the incident Brad Boyce faced a manslaughter charge but was acquitted by then Justice Herbert Volney, (former justice minister and current St Joseph MP) in the Port of Spain High Court.

The caskets were wheeled out of the church to Sarah McLachlan's "In the Arms of an Angel" and they were taken to the St James Crematorium.