It has often been described as a parent’s worst nightmare: having to bury his or her child.
However, for Gloria Elaine Arthur of Bush Hall, St Michael it appears to be a recurring nightmare.
Having already buried two of her five sons, she must now do it a third time, but this time the horror is much greater, as this is her youngest offspring and she has no idea how she will cover his burial costs.
The 67-year-old Elaine was awakened on Wednesday morning and given the devastating news that her son, 49-year-old well-digger David Ronnie Jussie Arthur, had been involved in a collision with a lorry three days earlier, on May 7, and had succumbed to his injuries.
She had last seen David on Sunday morning as he left for work, and because they lived in separate quarters in the partitioned house, she did not always know when he was in.
Therefore, she had absolutely no idea that her son had never come home until one of his friends delivered the dreadful news.
“I was in my bed on Wednesday and between sleep and wake I heard a knocking on my house. I said, ‘somebody calling?’ One of his friends who live down the road say, ‘yes, this is Ricky’.
“Ricky told me that ‘I heard he is in the hospital and he is unconscious and they want to find out if anybody could give the description of him,’” Elaine recalled.
The former Combermere snack lady was still rattled by the series of events that unfolded in the last 48 hours as she spoke to Barbados TODAY.
Struggling to stand upright because of arthritis, Elaine was overcome with grief as she reflected on the fact that her son had been lying unidentified at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for almost three days.
“I didn’t even know what clothes he had on, what he left with; all I knew was that he had a bicycle and he used to ride this bicycle.
“Yesterday I was in [the house] digging up. I searched every pocket in here [his room] yesterday to find the ID card to give to his brother that his brother can go to the hospital to identify him,” Elaine said.
“If they had a name we would have exactly known who it was, but no name wasn’t called; they just want you to identify the body.”
Supported by her cousin Barbara, the elderly woman stood in David’s room surrounded by his belongings, devastated that the Wesley Hall alumnus did not live to see his 50th birthday, which he would have celebrated on July 8.
While the news of David’s death shook Elaine, she was haunted by the fact that she is over $100,000 in debt and unable to afford to give her son a proper burial.
As a former labourer who was forced to stop working a lot earlier than she would have liked, the diabetic was struggling to keep her composure and was visibly distraught as she repeatedly spoke of her inability to make one final sacrifice for her youngest child.
“I’m here like a pauper. I told his brother up to today I can’t bury him. I used to work at Graeme Hall as a labourer, I came home medically unfit with a crack bone to my back and for all those years I break my back for
five boy children, [and] the Lord took two and now three.”
Despite David’s drug and alcohol addiction, the distressed mum said she would hate to have to leave the former mason’s burial to the state.
“If they [the person responsible] could perform the funeral, I could look for him to go along in any old pants; all he would want is a top,” she said as her eyes began to swell with tears.
“If I don’t get help, the Government would have to carry him along,” Elaine added, as she broke down crying.