Sy Yearwood got the shock of his life when he broke the windows and door of his mother’s Parkinson Field, Pine, St Michael home on Saturday morning.
Apart from the nauseating stench and the horrible site of flies and insects, his 66-year-old mother Virginia Yearwood’s decomposing body was covered in white lime.
It’s a memory that’s now etched permanently in Sy’s mind – a memory he wishes he could sooner forget, but one that simply will not be easily erased.
Unable to re-enter his mother’s home since then, the 46–year–old spoke to Barbados TODAY from his neighbour’s living room Monday evening.
With the anguish still clearly written all over his face, Sy explained that his mother had apparently been dead for at least three weeks.
However, he accused two relatives who were her caregivers of deliberately concealing her death and of pretending that she was alive and well.
“They are walking in every single day and calling and telling my brother and me that my mother is okay, [but] my mother is dead,” an outraged Sy told Barbados TODAY.
“For three weeks, my mother in there,” he cried, explaining that both he and his brother had made repeated attempts to reach their mother and were assured that she was ‘ok’ when she was not.
“I’m calling her and my brother is calling her and she [one of the caregivers] is telling my brother and me that my mother ‘ok’, and she got my mother cover down and my mother dead for three weeks and telling me and my brother she didn’t know what to tell me,” Sy reported.
Despite his reluctance to relive that horrible Saturday afternoon when he and his brother Albert Gittens arrived and broke down the door to enter their mother’s home, Sy said he was both appalled and shocked at the great lengths to which the relatives went daily to apply white lime on her decaying body.
So shocked was he, that on Saturday, immediately after the gruesome discovery was made, he sat in the road for nearly four hours in disbelief over all that had gone down.
“I open that door and saw white lime thrown over she, I opened the window and I told my brother it better be a dummy in there covered over,” he said, questioning, “How could you look at [Virginia] for three weeks every day and putting white lime over her to kill the scent?”
Adamant that his mother did not deserve such treatment, Sy recalled that the dead woman always did her best. However, he explained that after the birth of her second son, Virginia suffered a stroke and was dependent on the Welfare Department and her two sons for financial support.
The woman also has three daughters. However, being the oldest of her five children, Sy took on the responsibility as head of the household.
He insisted that his mother’s life was never easy.
“She had to make ends meet. My father was a seaman, which means that my mother could not do certain things and when she had my brother and when she had the stroke it made it harder on her.
“I had to stop school, press uniforms, plait hair, so it was hard on her because she could not use her hand,” he recalled.
Later on in life, Virginia was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Despite being a disciplinarian in her home, one neighbour described her as a generous and caring friend.
In fact Dave and his brother Damian were practically raised by Virginia and Dave recalled her most used phrase, which was, “I am a very nice person, but I don’t like foolishness.”
Her death has therefore taken members of the community by surprise.
When informed of her death, Chairman of the National Assistance Board (NAB) Senator David Durant was horrified to learn of the circumstances surrounding Virginia’s passing.
In fact, he said it was an example of the mistreatment and disrespect that the elderly were exposed to by their caregivers.
“It just shows the level of mistreatment, neglect, abandonment and abuse some of our elderly people are subjected to in our country. The country has to look at this elderly abuse in a more serious way, I think somehow people are not serious enough about the high level of elder abuse that is prevailing among us as a nation,” the NAB chairman said.
The outspoken Government Senator also suggested that caregivers needed to undergo training.
“Since we are faced with this unique situation, I think the more training, the more tips that are shared the better, so we can have a better understanding and a sound education as it comes to the elderly in our midst and stamp out the levels of abuse in the elderly,” he said.
Police are continuing investigations into the woman’s death with results still pending from her autopsy.