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Thankful for life

Iona grateful to be celebrating 100 years

She was not fully aware that it was her 100th birthday, but that did not stop the country’s latest centenarian Iona Viola Griffith from thanking God for sparing her life.

“The eyes ain’t too good but I am still living. Thank God I am still living,” the Weston, St James resident told Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave yesterday when he visited her as she reached that milestone.

Family and friends also gathered to celebrate the special occasion  with the old lady who looked splendid in her yellow dress outfit.

And though she was unable to directly respond to questions and carry on a conversation, she became extremely emotional and shed tears of joy when given flowers from Sir Elliott and also Edmond Hinkson, Member of Parliament for the area .

Griffith’s daughter, Eleanor Griffith, also her caretaker said though her mother suffered from arthritis which caused her to be immobile, she has a strong voice, especially when she repeats her prayers and beliefs. She said the confirmed Anglican always remembers to make the sign of the cross when she is receiving communion.

Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave (right) prepares to have a toast with  centenarian Iona Viola Griffith (centre) who is being assisted by her daughter Eleanor Griffith.

Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave (right) prepares to have a toast with centenarian Iona Viola Griffith (centre) who is being assisted by her daughter Eleanor Griffith.

The centenarian’s precious wrinckled hands were once used for cutting and carrying cane in the fields. As a single mother of eight, only four alive, she spent most of her working life at the Gibbs and Jordan plantations.

“She was a very hardworking person. You know when you are in the cane field and you go up with the bundles of cane on your head and then you are pregnant and you are going up the ladder with your cane, that was her. She worked very hard in the cane fields. Wherever she could get work, she get it to support her children,” the daughter said.

The grandmother of 13, great-grand of 20 and great-great-grand of five, did her best to raise her offsprings in the right way.

According to Eleanor, she was a very good mother and who “never encouraged us in any wrong doings.”

“She gave us whatever she could afford to give us. We couldn’t bring anything that don’t belong to us here, she would tell us to take it back where we get it from. She is one of the best and I thank God for her. And I am going to do my best to take care of her until God calls her or call me, only he knows,” Eleanor said.

Meanwhile, as he wished Griffith happy birthday and commended her longevity, Hinkson indicated that she was the third oldest member in his constituency.


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