From the time Olive Fitzgerald Alleyne was 90 years old he declared that he wanted to become a centenarian so he could get a visit from the Governor General.
The past 10 years, Alleyne prayed and prayed that he would reach this milestone. And this morning, as he celebrated his much anticipated 100th birthday, an emotional Alleyne was a happy man when Governor General Sir Elliot Belgrave visited him with a fruit basket and a birthday card from the Queen.
The centenarian who resides in Bank Hall, St Michael, smiled as he read his cards, and shared some of his life story with Sir Elliot.
“From the time I reached 90 and I see the Governor General visiting people I had the desire to live to see 100 to meet him too because it’s a privilege. One of the best days of my life is today. All through the whole week and month I was crying. I couldn’t talk for too long. I would talk for five minutes and then I the tears would start coming,” he told Barbados TODAY minutes after his meeting with the Head of State.
Confined to a wheelchair, Alleyne expressed that it felt great to be 100. He said while he always wanted to live a long life, his only regret was that he could not walk.
Nevertheless, Alleyne said, he would love to live another another 100 years if he could.
As for what contributed to his longevity, the centenarian said serving God from a young age, hard work and living life as best as he could, though he did make mistakes, were all factors.
He started his working life picking pond grass and then later moved on to driving lorry and public buses.
Alleyne’s daughter and caretaker Esther Downey, the fifth of his eight children, said she was pleased that her father was in good health. She said a pig tail and sweet potatoes, and sometimes, two dumplings were his daily food demands.
“Whatever you are giving him, give him a pig tail with it because he loves pig tail. I would say, ‘daddy, what do you want for lunch?’ He would say, ‘a pig tail and some sweet potatoes.’
“I have to go and buy them all the time and when I realise that they are going down I have to restock. He talks about living for another 20 years and though I don’t know where I would be at that time, he’s healthy,” she said.
Downey also recalled that her father was a very strict disciplinarian who refused to spare the rod and spoil his children.
“Daddy was very strict, you got lashes in a flash. When it comes to him, it was do as I say, no looking back or putting your hands in your pocket. Stupsing in my father’s house? No way.”