Communion omen for Walters family as search continues
Beryl Walters has never missed communion, but the family now views her indication last week that she would miss Saturday’s ritual because of ill health as an omen of the tragedy that was to unfold on April 19.
Beryl, and her 12-year-old granddaughter Jennel were washed away by flood waters in the Montego River last Tuesday afternoon, days before Mt Salem Seventh-day Adventist Church’s quarterly communion.
Daughter Shannon, 25, and husband Berris, 71, survived. Jennel’s body was retrieved last Wednesday but a days-long search for Beryl has come up empty.
The 68-year-old matriarch is feared dead.
Berris broke bread and drank wine alongside Shannon on his veranda on Saturday. Tears ran down his face as he reflected on the fruitless six-day search for his wife’s body.
The mother of five and grandmother had not been feeling well, owing to heart disease, with which she had been diagnosed more than a decade ago.
Doctors wanted her to do surgery, which was a 50/50 chance of survival but “she say ... she going to hold on to her 50,” her husband quipped.
The Christian woman tagged a prayer warrior by her church family had a heart bigger than life and the faith of a mustard seed, they said.
“She was a little woman with huge faith,” said Shannon as she reminisced on her mother’s prowess as a swimmer, often venturing fearlessly far from shore.
Her absence in the church’s pews on Sabbath was noticeable.
“If Sister Walters was here today, she would have been part of serving the emblem, sharing in what’s happening. Certainly, in the prayer team leading up to our service. She was always praying for the pastor,” Pastor Jonathan Myrie said during a house call Saturday.
A member of the congregation since 2008, Myrie added that both Beryl and Berris were a vital link in the church’s chain of prayer.
“In fact, in the recently concluded ‘Footprints of Hope Series’, a regional activity with various countries across the Caribbean, she was a member of the prayer team and night after night would be at the location, praying for individuals who were struggling with various challenges and difficulties and even just making decisions for the Lord,” he said.
Walters’ three sons combed the riverbanks on Saturday, anxious for closure. On Sunday, another search party of approximately 70 persons fanned out, but with the same result: no sign of Beryl.
A grandson, Malachi, who had arrived 24 hours earlier from the United Kingdom, was celebrating his 12th birthday on the weekend.
Shannon recalled how her mother would traditionally ensure that ice cream and cake were part of their birthday celebrations no matter how old they were.
Even young Malachi had his ready to savour.
As tears ran down his cheeks, he, too, expressed love and longing for the Walters family matriarch.
Beryl’s faith was so strong, said church sister Mercel Stanton, that when she was suffering, she would say with conviction: “I tell God everything. God knows everything about me. And so I do not need to worry about anything because God knows everything about me.”