Family, friends and well-wishers were Monday asked to look past the horrible circumstances under which 74-year-old retired nurse Verona Gibson met her death last month, and embrace the lessons of her exemplary life.
By 3:30 Monday afternoon mourners had crammed into every available space at the St Barnabas Anglican Church for Gibson’s funeral service. After a two-hour service, her remains were entered into the ground at the quaint churchyard cemetery.
Tears flowed freely as persons remembered a woman who was regarded as a pillar of the community but was tragically cut down last month when a pack of dogs mauled her to death, while walking in her community on Monroe Road, Haggatt Hall, St Michael.
In remembering the life of the dedicated member of his congregation, Reverend Mark Harewood acknowledged that people would question why such horrors had befallen Gibson, who was on her way to clean the church when she became a victim of the animals with a seemingly insatiable appetite for blood at the time.
“Why was it a situation where someone had lived her life as a dedicated family person, a dedicated person in the community, a dedicated person in the church, on her way to church to prepare this place for worship, why did it happen in that serious and emphatic manner?” Harewood questioned.
“Sometimes when we wrestle with such serious questions, we have to have some humility to step back and say we don’t know.”
The Anglican priest contended that Gibson, a retired nurse at the Sir Winston Scott Polyclinic, had lived her life as if it were a daily sermon, inspiring everyone with whom she came into contact to be better.
He said it was this inspiration that caused 30-year-old Damien McCollin to give no thought for his own life and limb, as he made a valiant attempt to save Gibson on the fateful day.
“Our sister didn’t talk a lot but many times we were able to see her sermons and I think that is a clue about how we can deal with the reality . . . . She encouraged a young man, who had some challenges, but she encouraged him to strive on. On that day he also made the free will choice to put himself in danger to assist,” the St Barnabas pastor said.
In the wee hours of Saturday, January 28, McCollin had bravely attempted to rescue Gibson from the ravaging animals.
The pack of five dogs turned on him in a savage attack, biting him all over, and it was only through the intervention of a passing motorist that he barely escaped and was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment.
Gibson’s son Roger Beckles described his mother as a selfless woman who loved to share with the members of her community. He revealed that even on the very day she died, she was carrying a bag with produce from her back garden, which she intended to share with a neighbour.
Beckles, who at times was barely able to contain his emotion, said his mother loved to walk and had it not been for painful knees in her golden years, would opt to walk to Bridgetown rather than catch the bus.