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The life journey of Richard Melvin Weller

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A celebration-of-life service for Richard Melvin Weller took place this week.

He died on January 25. Family and friends gathered at Grace Communion International Church on Watlington Road in Devonshire on Tuesday.

Richard, or perhaps I should say Richie — a nickname he'd had since early childhood — was a resident at Agape House prior to his death.

A few days before taking his last breath, in a rather humble and poignant moment for the many family members who had gathered at his bedside, he uttered a heartfelt apology: “I'm sorry I'm dying.”

Although Richie was aware he was close to that time which for all of us is inevitable, he felt more for others than himself.

Those who knew Richie would say, unequivocally, that it was a character trait he cultivated in his formative years — showing unconditional love and affection towards others.

That he possessed such an exhilarating quality should not come as a surprise. Richie was born September 8, 1959, the fourth of Marie and Clifton Weller Sr's seven children. He had a sterling upbringing, nurtured by the strong Christian tradition that you must love your neighbour as yourself.

Richie was the first of all of his siblings who was born in Somerset; his parents had very strong family and social connections in St George's, where they formerly resided.

He attended Sandys Secondary School in the 1970s. At the time he was tall with an athletic physique. He became a musician, learning the guitar and had a keen interest in cricket.

Winston Laylor, Richie's former physical education teacher at Sandys Secondary School, passionately described him as a gifted fast bowler. It was reputed that Richie would one day become a member of the coveted Somerset Cup Match team.

However, there is an old saying: “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. At the tender age of 19, while in the apex of youth and enjoying his zest for life, Richie had schizophrenia diagnosed.

The irreversible and debilitating medical condition significantly impacted his life for ever. Notwithstanding, Richie was able to represent Bermuda as a member of the under-21 national cricket team, and was chosen as an opening bowler against a foreign team.

Richie exhibited the most common symptoms associated with this disease: inappropriate actions and feelings, a withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion and a sense of mental fragmentation. Although he developed an unpalatable reputation for seeking a dollar or more from passers-by, to his family and friends he was a gentle giant — both harmless and compassionate.

At Tuesday's ceremony, the family made a point of noting Richie's behaviour and, in a humble confession, sought a public apology.

I was reminded of words uttered by one of Jesus's disciples, the Apostle Matthew, who outlined in one of his epistles: “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Despite Richie's life challenges, one thing which he was positively assured was the unconditional love exhibited by his siblings and a host of lifelong friends including Stephen “Cookie” Brown, Greg Cross and Raymond Philpott.

Tall with an athletic physique: Richard “Richie” Weller had a keen interest in cricket
Faced medical challenges: Richard “Richie” Weller had schizophrenia diagnosed

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Published February 04, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 03, 2017 at 11:45 pm)

The life journey of Richard Melvin Weller

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