Sister Lyril was a strong woman of God
There was an atmosphere of celebration as the community of Top Leinster in the parish of St Mary gathered for the thanksgiving service for the life of Lyril Veronica Hart.
Though the service was lightly punctuated by moments of sadness, where tears flowed, moderator Elder Wandel Black was quick to remind the congregation that this was the home-going service for a strong woman of God.
Like the little church in the wildwood, the Leinster Gospel Hall, perched on a hill, gave peace to all who came to pay last respects on Sunday, March 16, 2014 to the woman said to have fed many and whose love was always flowing.
The strains of How great thou art signalled to the many who had overflowed down the hill that the formalities had begun. The scripture readings were delivered by cousin of the deceased Lisa Packer (Psalm 90: 1-12) and granddaughter Tamara Williams-Collins (I Thess 4: 13-18). Among the host of tributes offered in honour of Sister Lyril was a rendition of the song Remind me, dear Lord by great grandson Kino Collins. The congregation was quick to sing along.
Eldest Daughter Jennifer Esty-Davis remembered the lessons her mother taught them as children and attributed her love for food preparation to the guidance of her mother in her formative years. She shared that her mother would always have chocolate tea for guests, and was sure to have at least a half-dozen nutmegs to give a visitor; sometimes sending it as far as England as "giving was my mother's hobby, she shared everything," said Esty-Davis.
She joked that she was the lockout for her mother when they went into the farmland as Sister Lyril was deathly afraid of lizards.
"Sometimes she would send me ahead to see if there were any lizards before she passed. And, at times, even when I saw one, I said there was none or she wouldn't pass," shared the daughter in her tribute, adding that beyond lizards she was fearless.
"Our mother was a woman of strength," she continued "as even four days before her death she walked some two miles." She shared the many virtues of the woman she and her siblings called Mama.
Elder Black told the congregation that it would seem that Sister Lyril attended every church in the community, but she was always the first one to arrive at the Gospel Hall. Madge Williams, representing the Mount Zion Baptist Church, told of Sister Lyril's love for God and her cooking skills, especially her peas soup. She ended her tribute with singing Time waits for no man, and the congregation clapped along with the tune.
A remembrance delivered by her sister E J Edwards recounted tales of a young, rambunctious Lyril, who was sure to be doing things outdoors. "She was more often doing things more suited for boys," she said. Edwards recalled her kind and giving spirit, always looking out for others. Her tribute was followed by that of another sister Andrea Hart Davidson, who eulogised Sister Lyril in poetry, highlighting that she led a family with God at the centre.
Other tributes came from granddaughter Sanique Davis-Golding, Jobs Hill Primary School (Rise out your storm), Leinster Gospel Hall Women's Fellowship (Never grow old), Perline Roberts, granddaughter Danielle Robinson, Sonia Ffolkes, and a few other well-wishers whose lives Sister Lyril touched.
Dr Isaac Brown in preaching the sermon advised the congregation to "prepare to meet thy God... as the death warrant is already signed". He charged those present to, like Sister Lyril, "die in Christ" that they may rise to new life with him. At the end of the sermon he made the call for souls to come to Christ and prayed for those willing to make the step.
The mood of the service remained joyful as memories of the warmth and giving spirit of Sister Lyril were shared with those in attendance.
Lyril Hart was born on Saturday, July 12, 1930 in Montego Bay, St James, to Ivy Cunningham (Thompson) and John Hart, after they met in Cuba. As a young girl she learned the skill of dressmaking, but soon went to her love of cooking. She decided to relocate to Kingston, but later settled in St Mary. She spent 21 years with her life partner David Robinson in the parish, who predeceased her.
She leaves behind children Jennifer, Michelle, Angela, Wesley, Herbert, and Leroy; 13 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren, sisters, brother and a host of relatives and friends.
Following the service of thanksgiving pall-bearers carried the casket through the community to the family plot nearby where she was interred.