Fair Daffodils we weep to see, you haste away so soon;
As yet the early rising sun has not attained his noon.
Stay, stay, until the hasting day has run, but to the evensong,
And, having prayed together, we will go with you along.”
From To Daffodils, by Robert Herrick.
Every now and then, we get an opportunity to support a public figure in time of mourning. We get a ticket or we arrive early, we put on a mourners face and we sing loudly. Seldom do we get close enough to observe or experience their grieving, unless we are a member of the family or a very close friend.
Recently, about 25 to 30 persons, the community of Barbadians who worship at the Church of St. Andrew and Holy Communion, in South Orange, New Jersey were able to do both — celebrate the life and times of Sheree-Anne Sandiford, who passed suddenly on July 25, 2013, and be there for her father Sir Lloyd, the fourth Prime Minister of Barbados, and her mother Lady Angelica.
The celebration began with the soft piano gospel strains of traditional songs flowing across open the landscape church setting and reflecting off the oval shaped roof, as viewers took their last peek at the deceased and expressed condolences to the bereaved family.
One hour later, a procession started a full service that included readings, prayers, tributes, a homily and communion. The service for Sheree-Anne Sandiford — who was educated at St. Michael’s and Queen’s College — ended with the playing of the Barbados National Anthem, and a message of sympathy by Lennox Price, Consul General of Barbados, to New York, on behalf of the wider Barbadian community.
The Reverend, Cannon Dr Sandye A Wilson, rector, was the officiating minister, and who, as well as, the church members who gave tributes, saw Sheree as a soft spoken, a committed, and a hard-working church member, who quietly and faithfully provided leadership in many areas of the church including fund raising.
At one point, some of the persons who paid tribute to Sheree-Anne, became teary eyed. Her sister Inga DeReus, her brother Garth, and cousin the Reverend Jenifer told stories and anecdotes that portrayed love, dedication and unselfishness. Clearly, in the extended family circle, Sheree-Anne, a 49 year old insurance executive was the aunt that took care and looked out for her nieces and nephews.
For the trivia minded, the Epistle was a reading from the letter of Paul to the church in Philippi and included lines which WHL Medford, a former headmaster Harrison College, often read at prayers when Sir Lloyd was a member of the sixth form.
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest … whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
When I spoke to Sir Lloyd, a few days before the funeral, he was clearly still in shock and said: “I thank you, but it will always be easier to accept the passing of your mother or father than one of your children. When I got the call, I thought she was coming home for summer.”
Coincidentally, a grand family reunion is being planned for later this year.
Among those attending the service were HC and QC alumni Dr. Trevor Atherly, Reverend Laurel Scott and Roseanne Clarke.
A service for Sheree-Anne will be held at St Peter’s Parish Church, Barbados, where she will be laid to rest.
And so, a small community of Barbadians — along with other fellow worshippers — honoured one of their own, and extended a kind hand to a native son who will continue to mourn for some time to come. Clearly, a fair daffodil has hastened away, but her legacy of love and service will surely remain for a long time to come.