Two women celebrated their 100th birthday yesterday, joining a total of just over 21 Barbadian men and women who became centenarians in 2013.
Etheline Frederica Puckerin at St Jude’s Nursing Home, Holder’s Hill, St James, and Marie Louise Brereton at Good Citizens Care Of The Elderly Senior Citizens Home, Grazettes Main Road, St Michael, were dressed in their finest, and in good spirits when they received honoured visits and treats from Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, before plunging into celebrations with their respective families and friends.
Puckerin, a woman who never bore children, but directly and indirectly assisted in caring for her three brother’s children, impressed Sir Elliott who was pleasantly surprised by her witty personality, ability to read without glasses and excellent memory –– which he commented on.
“You are intelligent and articulate. Some people when they reach the age of 100 they get blind, they get deaf and they can’t read; and you can read probably better than I do. So it is a pleasure to be here. She really surprised me and I am extremely happy to be here. I hope you continue to look after her and all of your patients,” Sir Elliot said of the avid reader who reads at nights and has the ability to thread needles without the help of light.
As for how Puckerin who is dependent on a wheelchair was feeling about reaching her milestone, it was just great.
Spending her childhood days in St John, the centenarian said she lived a cool and blessed life loving the Lord whom she knew loved her back.
“The Lord brought me here though his grace because of the life I lived. I know that I love the Lord and the Lord loves me. Some people does want to live and don’t look forward to anything because you don’t know when where or how,” she said.
Puckerin recalled that having finished school at a relatively early age at the St John’s Girls School, she was given an offer by the mistress to return and teach at the institution.
She says that today, she cannot lament enough how much she regretted not taking the offer especially since she was “a bright child”.
“You know why? That time the Collington Factory use to work and if anybody hit the child beside the mistress they would come for them with a big hoe stick, and I say ‘No, not me, I ain’t in this. I would encourage anybody that want to teach to go for I sorry enough I ain’t went.”
Her advice to any young individual who aspires to reach her age is to “eat the right food because you don’t know what right from wrong”.
“Try your best and if you eat something and it ain’t ’gree with you, don’t eat it again,” she added.
Over at Grazettes all the attention was on Brereton who looked lovely in her pink skirt suit and hat and expressed that she was thankful to God that she had lived to see her hundred –– 68 years over her mother who died at 32.
Having experienced a seemingly challenging life while growing up in St George, Brereton said one of her greatest joys and achievements in life was giving life to her son Awlwyn Howell and doing her best to nurture and care for him, working hard as a domestic worker and water carrier.
Nevertheless, she never spared the rod and spoiled him because he had to do what she told him to.
“Let me tell you something; nobody could not touch him. Don’t think you could knock my child here and there and get way.
“Do it to me and you would get off but as you do so, I would crucify you. And up to now, don’t mind how old, he is still my baby, if anybody hit he I would hit them back; don’t hit him. Don’t hit my my child,” the mother warned seriously.
Meanwhile, describing his mother as a good woman who raised him to the best of her ability, Howell said she had moulded him into the man she wanted him to be.
“I remember I had to sleep under her dress because she had no where to sleep. Her father would put her out; whatever she say he would put her out. We would sleep here, there, anywhere, up underneath cellars. She made it. She said, ‘One day I gine to make you happy’. And she did, until I make her happy. I love my mother,” the son said.