“United Nation General Assembly designated October 1, as the International Day of older persons; Guyana has opted the entire month to celebrate and recognise the elderly. The theme this year is ‘Take a stand against ageism.’ According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ageism is stereotyping and discriminating on the basis of person’s age. Ageism is widespread; it is a negative practice which has harmful effects on the health of older adults. The WHO has also posited that older people who feel they are a burden may also perceive their lives to be less valuable, often putting them at risk of depression and social isolation.”Excerpt from an article entitled “Guyana observes month of the elderly” published in the Guyana daily newspaper “Kaieteur News”
It is ironic that during this Guyanese “Month of the elderly” my elderly father who was a victim of elder abuse and fraud succumbed to the stress and distress of losing his home. My father was in his eighties when he succumbed to the effects of months of distress after being defrauded of his house and land at 56/57 Atlantic Ville, East Coast Demerara. My parents were married when my mother was in her late teens and my father in his early 20s. My mother transitioned many years ago so my siblings and I only had one parent since we were all very young.My father had worked since he was a teenager; he joined the Guyana Police force in the 1950s where he served on the coastland and in the Rupununi. He resigned from the force and moved to Canada where he returned to school to attain Canadian qualifications. My father worked for decades in Canada planning to retire and divide his time between Canada and Guyana. To that end he saved his money and built a house at Atlantic Ville on the East Coast of Demerara. He rented out his house at Atlantic Ville while living in Canada. Upon retirement he divided his time between his home in Atlantic Ville and Canada. In March 2012 my father suffered a massive stroke which left him incapacitated. He spent eight months in hospital in Canada recovering which included speech therapy and physical therapy. He made tremendous progress and within a year was walking but never regained all his faculties. Papa had excellent penmanship which I always admired but could never imitate try as I might. Following the stroke he could no longer write legibly and his speech deteriorated because there was no speech therapy follow up while he was in Guyana.
My father was at his house in Guyana when disaster as we could not even imagine struck in the form of Compton Scipio who lives in Far Rockaway, New York, Scipio’s sister Carlotta Scipio Bowman (who lives in Toronto under the assumed name Carlotta Caesar) and her daughter Tamara Bowman who lives in Guyana. In August 2015 Compton Scipio (who had several aliases when he lived in Guyana) traveled to Guyana and somehow obtained what he alleges is my father’s thumbprint on a document transferring ownership of my father’s house and land at 56-57 Atlantic Ville to Scipio. By some devious sleight of hand Scipio became the proud owner of 56-57 Atlantic Ville on October 10, 2015. A mere two months passed between August 2015 when Scipio visited Guyana and bamboozled my elderly, vulnerable father and October 2015 when Scipio’s name was registered in the Guyana Gazette as the owner of 56-57 Atlantic Ville. Sometime between August 2015 and December 2015 Scipio’s niece Tamara Bowman who lived at Martin Luther King Housing Scheme in Berbice was in possession of my father’s Canadian passport and his pension book. She was using these documents to gain possession of my father’s pension and doling out groceries at her whim to feed my father. While we waited to sort out this catastrophic situation my siblings and I had to financially support our father. We had to contact the Canadian government authorities in Guyana to recover my father’s Canadian passport from Bowman. To add insult to injury my father was no longer allowed to live in his house as of August 31, 2016. As of September 1, 2016 Tamara Bowman, Scipio’s niece and her brood of four children have been occupying my father’s house at 56-57 Atlantic Ville while my father lived in my brother’s house (his eldest son) in Berbice.During this Guyanese “Month of the elderly” my siblings and I travelled to Guyana to lay our father to rest. We are left to mourn Papa. As I shared my memories of my father in the eulogy I had prepared I looked across the podium into the eyes of Carlotta Scipio Bowman alias Carlotta Caesar who lives under an assumed name in Toronto, Canada. We had heard rumours that the woman was in the country; then there were reports of sightings of this woman in Berbice. I could not fathom that she would be so disrespectful and presumptuous as to crash my father’s funeral. Yet there she was where she had positioned herself to ensure that she was highly visible surrounded by the father of her children and her daughter Tamara Bowman who now occupies my father’s house at 56-57 Atlantic Ville with her brood. Summoning almost superhuman self-control I shared with the mourners in the church my memories of my father and controlled the impulse to sob out my anger and frustration at the sight of two of the three people I hold responsible for my father’s passing. There was some drama after the church service and I am forever grateful to my youngest sibling Ingvar who “had my back” during that trying time. He was beside me, his arm around me ready to take on anyone in my defence. I firmly believe my father had many more years to live if he was not distressed and stressed by members of an evil notorious (Scipio) family who defrauded him of his hard earned livelihood. My father comes from a family known for longevity. His grandfather Kelly Murphy Jonas (after whom my father and I are named) was over a hundred years old when he transitioned. Some of my father’s relatives are still going strong in their 90s.
I spoke about Papa’s love of storytelling, his artistic bent, his effervescent personality. Papa was an extravagantly handsome, charming man who would light up a room with his laughter. He was always impressively, immaculately dressed (pants creased sharply, shoes with mirror like shine) He had a wonderful singing voice but would frequently forget the words of songs; he would never let that stop him from singing! As a child I thought the sun rose and set in my Papa. I could hardly contain myself as my brothers and nephews laid his casket into the tomb. I knew he was gone; I had seen him at the mortuary as they were transferring him to the funeral home. As I talked to him and touched him he was so cold that I lost control of my usual calm. At the cemetery as he was laid to rest amidst his ancestors, his siblings and various other relatives I felt some comfort that he was in a familiar place. There are generations of Papa’s family throughout the cemetery in the village where he was born on the Corentyne Coast. The village was established by Africans after slavery in Guyana was abolished through a four year process from August 1, 1834 to August 1, 1838. I had heard stories from Papa about his grandfather who is still famously remembered as “Pa Kelly/Big Jonas.” I will ensure that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren know about my Papa who is gone but will never be forgotten.We left Papa peacefully laying with his “generation.” My father was the youngest of his parents’ children and the last to transition. I read some of the tombstones, sometimes surprised at familiar names and dates of birth. I am back in Toronto occasionally weepy, numb, distracted, distraught, moody, angry, missing the first important man in my life, my father, my Papa.