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A Tribute to George Francis



May 26th 2009 St. George’s Cathedral, Kingstown, St. Vincent

I stand before you in deep humility and with a great sense of empathy to pay tribute to one of the world’s most wonderful human beings I have ever met. I had the special opportunity and privilege of meeting and befriending George Francis over forty years ago in the days when Vincentians came to St. Lucia for New Year and St. Lucians came to St. Vincent for Easter. What wonderful days these were.

George was one of my mom’s most favoured guests. Well mannered, respectful, genuine and of the highest integrity. Fortunately I also had the opportunity to break bread with George and Elsa about three months ago. Elsa picked me up at my hotel and the three of us sat and had the most wonderful breakfast ever. The amount of souse I saw George put down that morning I honestly thought it was part of his therapy. In the one hour and a half I spent with him we talked about everything, politics, economics, social issues like crime on the rise in our region and the like. George had a very analytical and objective view on all those topics. To say the least I was enlightened when we parted that morning. My friend and brother, thanks for sharing your broad insight and foresight. He even enlightened me on St. Vincent’s proposed new airport and new cricket grounds, both of which I hope the good Lord will allow me to see one day.

I am not one who embraces eulogies and tributes to people on their passing, as I am a stronger advocate of singing praises to people while they are alive, so that they can be proud of their life and their achievements and be more inspired to share love. Why do people have to die for us to tell them all the nice things that need to be said? Why not tell them while they are alive and well? I think that is because we are too busy promoting the negatives about each other. How sad! I trust that most of you who are here today had the opportunity to tell George that you loved him before his departure. I encourage you never to let this world of dog eat dog survival of the fittest ever take away the gift of love that God has instilled in each and every one of you.

My friends, in life we all make this dramatic appearance, but the departure is never easy to accept. There is an old adage that says today you’re here, tomorrow you’re gone. That has since changed to today you’re here, today you’re gone. So this begs the question, which one of us is next? I am certain George would say to you if he were given the opportunity to, Live for today, my friends, because that’s all you will ever have. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow you have not yet seen. Today is your day so live to the fullest but make sure you have reverence for God in the process.

My friend George had a fantastic sense of humour. He loved music, but above all he loved people. He knew that it is through love for each other that we can make this world with all its ills a better place. So in George’s name I ask that you turn to whoever is sitting next to you whether relative, friend, stranger or foe and tell that someone I love you.

God has called George so he must answer the phone. He cannot say that the line is busy. His flight has been announced and is ready for boarding. He cannot remain in the intransit lounge. So, my friends, let him go in peace to meet his maker. He could have remained on a hospital bed for another two years or more, who knows, but God took him peacefully, so rejoice and be glad in God’s decision. I know that no amount of words can remove or diminish the pain the family is enduring, but rest assured my friends it will pass away. Pray incessantly, and trust God to do the rest. The good book says – Not my will, but thine will be done. The good book also says “while tears come in the night joy comes in the morning.”

In closing I wish to extend sincere condolences to the Francis family, especially to our loving sister Elsa, an admirable and strong woman who stood by his side throughout this trying ordeal. Elsa, you, too, will have a place in heaven where George is now headed. Take solace in the fact that many are called, but few are chosen. George from all of St. Lucia, I say Adios Amigo, Adios my friend. Au revoir mon ami, au revoir. Until we meet again in paradise. Good bye, my friend. Good bye, George.

By Chester Hinkson

St. Lucia