“He was real sweet. A real loving child.”
That is how 86-year-old Irvine Gooding will forever remember his grandson Andre Gittens who perished in the early hours of Sunday morning in a vehicular accident along the Greame Hall section of the ABC Highway that also claimed the lives of three Vincentians females.
Sitting in the home he shared with Gittens at River Land, St Philip, Gooding’s despair was palpable as he reflected on the life of a grandson cut short much too soon.
The elderly man told Barbados TODAY Gittens was the sweetest child he ever met and he had no idea how he would go on without him.
“There will never be another like him. He was too sweet. I miss him bad, bad. I don’t know what I am going to do without him. He was too sweet and I miss him bad already. Real sweet boy,” he said.
Head buried in his hands after wiping a tear from his eye, Gooding summoned all the courage he could to keep talking.
“I hope one of these days I meet him in paradise. I really hope I get to meet him again.”
The octogenarian spoke of a young man with qualities to be admired and character any parent – or grandparent – would be proud of.
Gittens never hesitated when he was asked to assist in any way, he said, and never argued with his grandfather.
“Anything I asked him to do he would do. We never quarrel. He was always there for me. He was a real nice boy and quiet and loving. Anything he had to do for me he did it. He never told me no. I never heard him speak a bad word yet. That’s the truth.”
Gooding said he last saw his grandson on Saturday morning before the young man left for work.
His final act was one of unsolicited kindness.
“Before he left that Saturday morning, he ask me, ‘Grandfather, what you want do?’ and I said, ‘all I got here is a pants and shirt that I wore home to wash out’ and he said, ‘give it to me I will do it’. And he wash them out. Before he went off to work he took them out and bring them for me. That’s the last time I saw him,” the elderly man said, shaking his head in disbelief.
Up until the time of the interview last evening, Gooding had yet to view his grandson’s body.
He said he was unable to travel to the accident scene because of his recent surgery.
However, the fond memories will live forever, the fondest of which was Gittens’ graduation from the Christ Church Foundation School.
“I went to his graduation with him. That same time I had an operation on my eye but he told me he wanted me there so I had to go. I was very proud of him,” he said.
These, no doubt, would have been the sentiments of the young man’s mother Cynthia Gittens.
Still reeling from the shock, she told Barbados TODAY she was not yet in a frame of mind to speak.
A similar accident at Two Mile Hill, St Michael in October 2015 took the lives of four young women, including 22-year-old Shakira Shepherd, along with 23-year-old Shameka Shepherd, 18-year-old Carey Brathwaite and 25-year-old Waveney Johnson.
Shakira’s aunt Andrea Maynard told Barbados TODAY she could relate to what the families were going through at present.
“I’m very sorry and hurt to hear about what happened. It brought back memories of Shakira. When I heard about it, she instantly came to mind and I feel real bad about it all over again. I know how their parents are feeling now,” she said.
Maynard also advised the families “it’s going to be rough, rough, rough, but you have to ask God to pull you through”.
Fifteen months after the Two Mile Hill accident, Maynard said her family was “coping alright” for the time being.
She was only hoping that “nothing so ever happens again”.