Forty years of drug addiction has ended with the death of 63-year-old Gordon Alexander Best, a City vagrant whose family says they have always loved and cared for him but could not get him off the streets. His death came five days after his broken-hearted mother Stella Brathwaite, 88, took her last breath on Kadooment Day.
Best’s sister Patricia Trotman told Barbados TODAY that her mother always worried about the life her son lived on the streets.
“I know she went with him on her mind. She was always on her knees praying that God would change him. She had a broken heart for many years. She was sick and she would hold her tummy and say ‘Pat I bore pains for him, I born him, he is my son and I love him. I did not put him like that and I don’t want him to be treated like a dog’.”
The grieving sister and daughter said even up to the end of her life, her mother, who lived at Free Hill, Black Rock, was looking out for Best.
“The last thing she did on her dying bed in the hospital was to change her will. She has a house that is rented out and she said to me she want to change up the will and put a clause in there that some money is to go every month to an account. She told me ‘you must take care of this account and take care of Gordon,’ Trotman recalled.
“If he comes for something to eat, if he comes for something to wear, and if he dies bury him please because I don’t want the Government just to throw him in a hole.”
Trotman said her mother kept worrying about her brother.
She said “‘Pat don’t forget to take care of Gordon’. I believe that she said to God I am going and I am going to take Gordon along with me. I believe that she asked God to take him,” Trotman continued.
It was in the 1970’s when Best, a father of two, turned to a life of drugs and to the streets where his family believed he was used and abused.
His sister recalled that he started out hanging with friends who introduced him to smoking marijuana
She said he eventually had to be taken to the Psychiatric Hospital after being given a “spliff that was laced” with something else.
The 62-year-old explained that while many have said unkind words to her brother and judged his lifestyle over the years, she would like them to know that he was an educated man who worked at the electric company as a meter reader.
“We came out from a very good home and had good standards, principles and morals. And it was sad to see Gordon like that. On many occasions we tried to bring him home. My mom even got a house and furnished it and give it to him.
“He stayed in it for about three months and then after that he and his friends from the streets took everything out and sold it and he was back on the streets,” she said during an interview this afternoon.
Trotman, who said she too was hurt by the beating her brother received at times when he asked people for money, explained that she also took him to her home, cleaned him up, and asked him to stay away from the streets.
She said her heart was also broken the day Best admitted to her “I don’t smoke marijuana anymore, I does use cocaine”.
“I remember the first years that he was like that I cried every time I saw him. Until one day I was crying and he said to me ‘Pat stop crying’. But we never left him out. We would go into town, he would hug you, he would kiss you and people would pass and want to know why you letting him touch you and hug you. My family looked out for him. He was loved. He was very polite and the older he got he became quieter.”
As she prepares to bury her mother on Saturday, and set a date for her brother’s farewell, Trotman made an appeal to parents to encourage their children to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
“I myself used drugs with him because he was the first one to introduce me to marijuana. I had my time too but I guess I was the stronger one and I decided I am not doing this anymore and walked away.
“But what I would say to parents too is be involved with your children. Search their stuff as long as they are living at you. Get involved with their friends and listen to their conversations. Do not ever take anything for granted. This is advice that I would give to every parent because I know what my brother and I did,” she said.
“My father was a cigarette smoker and my brother and I would steal our father’s cigarettes and when he lit his cigarette we would light one too because we said he can’t smell the smoke. So we as parents now need to be very serious and cautious because times have changed.
Trotman said Best, who attended Wesley Hall Primary and St Leonard’s Boys died in The City. She said a postmortem was to be conducted sometime this week to determine the cause of his death.
“He lived on the streets and he died on the streets. But people see people and we don’t know their life or we don’t know what happened. We judge. But it is not good to judge because we do not know what will happen to our lives.”