The best of times
Emerson Silverton Best, one of the two men who celebrated their 100th birthday today, has a very sharp mind.
He responds to questions intelligently and will not hesitate to sternly demand that he be allowed to complete his responses his way if not given a chance to elaborate.
He can be quiet and secretive at times, but he is also very much in tune with the way his affairs are conducted and has much say about it.
Following a visit from Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave at his Crick Hill, Westmoreland, St. James home this morning, Best who lived in London for 50 years, sat with the media and shared memorable stories of the past and reflected on the present.
Having spent half his life in England, signs of the British accent remain, but it’s the Barbadian accent that is dominant.
He said he was from a “real middle class family” that owned land in Barbados and recalled that his great-great grandfather was a Scotchman from the Valley of Glencoe. However, he spent most of his working life as a tailor and printer.
“I am a retired printer. I have done many things but I never left the trade. I went into printing around the age of twelve behind my father at The Herald,” said the centenarian, emphasizing pride in his background
While relatives and family members travelled from across the world to celebrate this special occasion with him, the centenarian made it clear that he would not be “so daft to concentrate on being 100 years old”, preferring instead to be contented with being in the “evening” of his life.
“I am active and the only thing got me now is that I am a bit weak. I believe in the true and living God and I believe I can live a little longer. I set no date. I never said to God I want to live to be a hundred,” he said.
His caretaker and granddaughter Amanda Moore said it could be challenging at times to take care of the elderly Best. Nevertheless, she boasted that the stories he shares keeps her going, and the history lessons are priceless.
She said she was often amazed at his memory and ability to effectively recall events that happened years ago, even giving exact dates at times.
“I just love him as a grandad and I enjoy doing this. He is a still very active [and] move around on his own. He tries to help himself in everything. He doesn’t like you to baby him. He is still very independent even though he was 100 years old,” Moore said.
Just last year was asking for a lawnmower.
Before Sir Elliott ended his visit, he said he was impressed and surprised at the 100-year-old’s ability to read fine prints, and urged Best to stay away from any lawnmowers or harmful instruments.
The Governor General also encouraged family members not to overdo the birthday celebrations which can prove to be quite fatiguing for the elderly.
“I hope they don’t overdo it todaybecause sometimes they overdo it and the centenarian don’t live to see another birthday,” Sir Elliott said.