Thursday 23rd June, 2005


Guidance from granny: Satan is a liar

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Lilla Gonzales’ grandsons carry her belongings to a waiting truck. Following her death last week, the family decided to keep her house closed.

Inset: Lilla Gonzales Photo: Karla Ramoo

Gonzales’ daughter Verna Ifill tries to comfort her other daughter Judith Gonzales during her funeral service yesterday.

Photo: Wendy-Ann Duncan

By Valdeen Shears-Neptune

Even though she was taken from this life, the legacy of 63-year-old Lilla Gonzales, who died of poisoning last week, lives on.

A letter written to a favoured granddaughter a few weeks before her untimely death was read to the congregation at her funeral service yesterday.

“When I got this letter I hesitated reading it, because I knew what it contained,” said an emotional 19-year-old Mary-ann.

“Words of warning and guidance from my granny, so I read it the day after she died.”

She was one of two of Gonzales’ granddaughters who delivered the eulogy at the service at Allen’s Funeral Home, Arima.

With tears running down her face, Mary-ann read, “He (Satan) is a liar, Mary-ann.

“It hurts me each time I see you putting on your best for Satan. Give up the pleasures and things of the world.”

The letter also chastised parents who allowed their children to do as they wanted, thinking that this sense of freedom represented true love.

“If you die now you will die lost. I can’t think of my Mary-ann as having her life shortened,” the letter went on.

Mary-ann was also one of the 22 relatives who fell ill after eating from a pot of split peas soup at her grandmother’s wake last Saturday.

Her cousin, 17-year-old Tadius Ifill, remains at the intensive care unit at Port-of-Spain General Hospital, unconscious, but stable.

His sister, Sonia, 19, was the first to have fallen ill on that day.

She spent two days at Mt Hope hospital following the incident.

Sonia said she felt a burning in her chest after eating the first few mouthfuls, then her vision blurred.

“I fell, someone picked me up and I vomited. Then it was chaos, as everyone started crying for pains,” she said.

Their mother Verna appeared composed yesterday as she tried to console Gonzales’ youngest daughter, Judith.

Her words of comfort went unheeded, as Judith wept continuously and cried out for her mother.

“Mammy get up! Open your eyes Mammy, please!” she wailed as the strains of Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s One Sweet Day, filled the air.

The family continues to express confusion over the circumstances surrounding Gonzales’ death as well as the illness of the other relatives.

“We all feel lost. Who would do this?” questioned a teary-eyed Nigel Gonzales, the dead woman’s first grandson.

Although they are still awaiting tests results from police, identifying the toxin, family members said the poisoning incidents were intentional.

Ingredients used to make the pot of soup last Saturday was seized by police that same night, who also collected body fluids from those stricken by the mysterious illness.

Cpl Parks of the Arima CID said yesterday that the ingredients were still at the Forensic Science Centre, St James.

However, he said officials there had promised to speed up testing, but the results won’t be available for at least two weeks.

Parks said they could not classify Gonzales’ death until they received the results.

Another visit to the family’s home was planned for today, he said.




©2004-2005 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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