Like fine wine
Joseph Graham reaches his century
He made headlines back in 2009 when, at age 94, he married a 70-year-old woman.
And yesterday it was a celebration of a different kind for Joseph Graham, as he marked his 100th birthday.
Graham, who bade farewell to his fourth wife Undine Hazelwood due to irreconcilable differences, was in high spirits yesterday as he received Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave at the J&J Senior Citizen’s Home, Lodge Road, Newton, Christ Church.
In fact, he declared that he had done it all, heard it all, seen it all, but just couldn’t remember it all.
Nevertheless, he shared what he could of his journey to the coveted milestone.
Outfitted in a beige suit, the centenarian, who is of strong voice, recited a few poems and played a few tunes on the harmonica, much to the delight of Sir Elliott and other well wishers.
“I enjoyed everyday of life. I am as joyful as can be. My life is always before me. I had Christ from early in my life. My name is Joseph and you know what Joseph did.
“He [the biblical Joseph] had a coat of many colours and I had all kind of things that a person should have and I am thankful up to this day,” Graham said, amid tears of joy.
When asked about his life, the island’s newest centenarian said when he was young, he was frisky like any other boy and “did all sorts of things for cash”.
He recalled joining the Barbados Defence Force in 1944 as a soldier until his cooking skills were discovered and he was sent to Trinidad for further training in that area. He returned to Barbados and was appointed chief chef in the army where he remained until 1948.
“I had pleasure doing it. Although I had my training and everything as soldier when they found out my ambition in cooking I had to do the cooking. But I still wanted them to know that I had to do the training. So I would put the fire very low under the pot and went in training. The corporal that was training the group looked around and asked me to please go back to the cook house,” he recalled.
He later ventured into baking and pastry making and eventually opened several grocery shops, all in the effort to put his five children through school.
“I didn’t have to be extremely strict. I educated them and they knew what wrongs were and what right should be. I educated them well,” he said.
The former Water Street, Christ Church resident was sent to the nursing home three months ago after being released from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where he became an amputee.
Those gathered, including Member of Parliament for Christ Church East Central Ronald Jones, described the centenarian as a disciplined individual who up to age 96 was still capable of following workout plans as he takes his health seriously, refusing to eat after 8 p.m.
Jones, who congratulated Graham on reaching his milestone, commended the fact that he still had his faculties in tact and remarked that he looked good for his age.
Reverend Dr Cuthbert Edwards of the Methodist Church said the church would continue to pray for Graham’s good health, and offer him support.
“If you happen to go to Graham’s house you would discover that in his cupboards he has three things. He had a cupboard that was filled with Ensure.
“He had a cupboard filled with coffee and he had a cupboard that was filled with homemade wine. I believe that those three things may have contributed to him living for this long,” Dr Edwards said.
Representatives from the Men’s Fellowship from the Dalkeith Methodist Church and the Barbados Legion presented Graham with gifts.