Ron Pilgrim’s day job starts around 9 am and ends at 3 pm, giving him three hours before he has to get to his night job which commences at 6 pm; in those three hours, he has to ensure that his children are fed and prepared for bed.
He returns home just after 6 am from his night job with barely enough time to get his children off to school and make it to his 9 am day job.
Pilgrim is a single father. Two weeks ago, he was a single father of three children, but his youngest was tragically killed two Fridays ago, allegedly by a relative, who ripped off her earrings before throwing her through a window and burying her in the waterlogged yard.
Pilgrim’s youngest brother Sherwin Roberts, 18, was charged last week with the murder of 18-months old Ronasha Pilgrim and was remanded to prison.
“I still can’t believe she dead and I don’t understand how it happen,” Pilgrim told the Sunday Stabroek in a recent interview.
The toddler was killed during the night as she stayed with her older brothers, Ryan, 12 and Rob 11 while Pilgrim was away at his security job at Cevons Waste Management. During the day, he is a maintenance worker at a private residence.
He is 35 years old, but looks much older mainly due to what he described as “hardly getting a good night’s sleep in years.” While his day off from the maintenance job is Friday, there is no stipulated day off for his security job.
When the Sunday Stabroek sat down with Pilgrim, he had just picked up his older son from school. The child, who was neatly dressed in his brand-new school clothes, started secondary school last week and while he rides a bicycle, his father rides along with him to ensure that he gets to school safely and then does the same thing in the afternoon.
As we spoke Pilgrim kept glancing at his watch as he wanted to ensure that he had time to take his son home to Sophia before heading off to work.
“I don’t have much time,” he admitted after a while but he also wanted to share his story and hope that persons would understand that it was not a case of him being neglectful to his children, but a case of him attempting to provide for them the best way he knows how.
“I don’t want leave them alone, but I have to work and to be honest one job can’t do,” he said flatly.
Little Ronasha and the boys did not share the same mother and according to her father he has shared an “off and on” relationship with the child’s mother.
“I don’t know but sometimes she is by me and then another time she would just gone by she grandmother. I love me daughter but I had to leave her with the boys when I going to work in the night,” Pilgrim said.
He said while he would have liked to have a more stable relationship with his daughter’s mother, it was her choice. When the child was alive and school was in session Pilgrim took her to day care before dropping his sons off to school and in the afternoons, he picked up all three of them and took them home.
“To be honest sometimes I didn’t even have enough time to really make things for them to eat but I use to try,” he said.
Since their sister died, Pilgrim’s sons have not slept in the small one-bedroom shack they call home, as their sister’s mother has been keeping them when their father leaves for work.
“It is hard for them and at least she [the child’s mother] is helping out…”
Pilgrim said he was forced to take another job when the mother of his two sons died in 2011. He did not go into details, but revealed that she got sick and shockingly died shortly after leaving him with his two sons.
He said initially his mother assisted with taking care of the children as he worked but eventually their care was left solely to him. And at the time the family lived with his reputed wife’s relatives, but after she died Pilgrim had to find a place of his own.
While he is grateful to a family in Sophia who allowed him to put up the one-bedroom shack behind their home, Pilgrim admitted their home is not an ideal one but all he can afford. The shack is tiny and the land on which it stands is often swampy.
But it is still home to Pilgrim and his children.
Asked why he did not take what some might describe as the ‘easy way out’ and put his children into state care, Pilgrim quickly said that would have been the hardest decision.
“That is not the easy way out. That woulda been the hard way out. It hard for me to be honest, but they are my children so they have to live with me. I have to take care of them,” he said.
He had hoped when he commenced the relationship with Ronasha’s mother that she would have been a mother to his sons but that was not to be, even though they shared a child together.
“I don’t really want to say much about that, but you know I wish she woulda be more with me and them…,” he said.
He believes if she was there their daughter might not have been killed. Pilgrim, at the time of the interview, said he still could not comprehend that the child, who was expected to be buried yesterday (Saturday) was dead.
He also does not have an explanation for his brother’s alleged actions as he did not know him to be a drug addict. “His hands lil sticky and that is why I didn’t want he around me but I didn’t know anything about he using drugs,” he said.
In fact, Roberts was only released from prison in July following the prison fire. He was one of the prisoners who was granted early release; he had been serving time for breaking and entering.
“I don’t know why he do it. I only see he one time since when de police bring he by me home and he show them where he bury she and that was it,” Pilgrim said, adding that he had not seen or spoken to his mother since the day of the incident.
Building his house
Pilgrim’s combined salaries see him earning just about $100,000 monthly but he said renting an apartment is not an option for him.
Instead Pilgrim uses whatever he could save towards building his own home. He has a piece of land in Parfait Harmonie and the foundation and four walls of the house have already been completed.
However, recently one of his neighbours complained that his workers had built one of the walls too close to their fence and this halted work. Pilgrim said he is now attempting to raise some funds to have the wall taken down and for some adjustments to be done.
“I don’t want to rent a house. I can’t afford to rent a house. I trying to build me own house,” he said.
Pilgrim said he has not approached a bank for assistance as he believed that with his earnings, eventually, he would have put up a structure. But with the recent tragedy he wishes this can be sooner rather than later.
“Right now, I don’t really want the boys back in that house. It will be hard for them. I don’t know yet what to do because I don’t know how long they could stay with my baby mother in the nights,” Pilgrim said.
He also agrees that one day he would have to leave his night job, as not only would the lack of sleep destroy his health. but he also wants to be there for his sons as they get older.
“You know, I wouldn’t want to leave them alone when them become teenager, is all kinds of influence out there and I want to be around for them,” he said.
Since his daughter died, Pilgrim said, he was visited by Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence, who indicated that the ministry would cover the funeral expenses once an invoice was presented.
Pilgrim said he does not want handouts, because he works hard to provide for his children but he would appreciate some assistance to complete his home so that the family could move from the environment they now occupy.
“If I could get some help it is just so I could finish me house, nothing more just that. People don’t even have to give me money, they could buy a lil material, that would be welcome,” Pilgrim said in the interview.
For now, he will continue to make the daily and nightly grind at his jobs as he attempts to do what has to be done.
Pilgrim can be contacted on 672-8782.