There was not an empty seat at the St John Parish Church this morning as an emotional crowd gathered to say their final goodbyes to 38-year-old Antonio Orlando Mapp, whose body was discovered not far from his Sherbourne, St John home early last week.
Tears also flowed freely at times, as family, friends and colleagues gathered for the two-hour long service for the former Barbados Defense Force solider and mason who was reported missing on June 9.
Two days later, on June 11, police said Mapp’s lifeless body was discovered lying face down in bushes next to his motorcycle and helmet at Wakefield Main Road, St John.
It was a touching send off fit for a man whose untimely death remains a mystery to lawmen and family members, adding to the grief they feel.
Today, loved ones battled with the memories of the tragedy as they huddled together under overcast skies and amid intermittent showers in a show of respect for Mapp.
Some could be been shaking their heads in disbelief, while others struggled to keep their composure as Mapp’s mahogany casket was escorted in and out the church during a very sombre service.
Delivering the eulogy on behalf of the family, his uncle Ian Toppin took pride in describing Mapp as a very nice, jovial person.
“He enjoyed laughter. Those of you who knew him, knew that he had an imposing physique and appearance but an extremely pleasant guy.
“He loved to laugh, he had an extremely contagious personality while being social. His sister informed me last night that he was neither a borrower nor lender. He was very straightforward type of guy,” Toppin said.
The mournful uncle also said his nephew, a former student of the Ellerslie Secondary School, had a special love for his family.
However, still weighing heavily on Toppin’s heart, were the unanswered questions about Mapp’s death. And he told mourners his nephew had too much at stake to take his own life.
“We don’t have answers for what happened but because of his love for his son and for his lady we are absolutely sure that whatever happened was not a deliberate act on his part.
“He loved his family and he loved his friends so we know he didn’t do this to himself,” he stressed.
During the appreciation, Toppin left an encouraging message for his family members.
“What, then, shall we say?” he asked.
“Neither death or life, angels or demons, the present or the future, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God. Don’t worry, Jesus loves us this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
“Life is just a dash. It is impossible for me to fill in the details of the dash but that is what life is,” he stressed.
In his sermon Canon Dr Geoffrey Mayers shared words of comfort with mourners.
“Life has its moments of joy, moments of sadness and it doesn’t give us warning as to when death will come.
“We are aware that death in the midst of its pain, sorrow [and] sense of loss can also provide an opportunity for us as well. In the midst of everything remember there is a hand that reaches out,” the clergyman said.
The burial took place at the St John cemetery.