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September 24, 2018
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September 24, 2018

A tribute to our ‘Uncle Syd’

Vernon and Joan Khelawan with ‘Uncle Syd’ on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary.


As a boy I have always known ‘Uncle Syd’ to have a big heart, especially when it came to his many nieces and nephews. He knew all of us and loved all of us tremendously. Growing up directly opposite the St Joseph RC Church, I had an uncanny feeling his strong spirituality would guide him to the priesthood.

I remember how every morning he would park his bicycle and run into the church, for what I would imagine was a daily chat with the Lord. It was during this time while he worked at the Tunapuna Warden’s Office, he stood as godfather for Patrick my younger brother. But his life turned around and he entered the Seminary at Mount St Benedict as one of its first students.

At the seminary, he received many special dishes from his sister Winnie (my mother) because she lived on St John Road, the road to the seminary. I was at Fatima College when he was ordained and I realised then how much family meant to him.

He attended many of my family’s functions and always expressed his love for us all. The last visit to my home was about three years ago and the conversations were wide ranging. My wife Joan and myself visited him as Bishop of St George’s in Grenada in the 1980s at his home in Mon Jaloux. It was a beautiful reunion.

We visited again at the end of June this year, but he did not recognise us. His memory had gone. It was so sad to see Uncle Syd this way but we remembered God was in charge.

But one of the most poignant moments which I will always remember was his presence to celebrate Holy Mass on our 40th wedding anniversary. To mark that occasion Joan wrote for Uncle Syd a special poem which he always talked about and cherished until his death.

Here it is:

A Tribute to our ‘Uncle Syd’

With love we call you Uncle Syd

And that is for all the good things you did

Your love for family is very pronounced

As you present yourself even if not announced

It was so meaningful as with us you celebrated

Our 40th wedding anniversary which we commemorated

It was a blessing as you came

And without your presence it would not have been the same.

You impart knowledge with such wit and simplicity

It is appropriate for all to see

Doing your homily without a joke or story

Would give us cause to worry

How blessed to have you here with us

As we for you, family is a must

So well you remember everyone

By name and relationship even those who have gone

Your life and experiences have touched so many

As you continue your journey, please don’t be in a hurry

We pray the Lord will allow you many more

As we all wish you a longer for sure

May God bless and keep you in good health

As for us that could be considered as wealth

We all love you as I am sure you know

So be happy and witty and let it all show.

When Uncle Syd left us earlier this month, Joan penned these two verses in his memory.

At last your blessed life has come to an end

But time with you was always well spent

To so many you were a shepherd to your flock

And all who knew you still speak of their luck

My God bless you and keep you at his side

As your life has been an eternal guide

May you rest in peace in the bosom of the Lord

As our voices are now raised in one accord.

Goodbye, Uncle Syd!