Centenarian Inna Ernestine Howard had a son and daughter of her own; but that did not stop her from taking care of the poor children in her neighbourhood.
She washed and pressed their clothes, and fed them –– those little ones who had no mother to care for them and nurture them. Some even slept at her home until their legal guardians came home from work at nights.
And as she celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday, Howard, a Moravian Church member, who was born and raised in Massiah Street, St John, said this act of kindness was all part of her living a good life.
She told also of three siblings she took under her arms after their mother died and when they were still very young. She had had her own responsibilities, but nevertheless helped their father raise them, as much and as best as she could.
Yesterday, Howard was happy and full of joy and excitement when she received a visit from Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, as well as family and friends who celebrated the milestone with her at the Golden Towers Nursing Home in Welches Gardens, St Michael.
Those gathered were impressed with her ability to read the birthday card delivered to her by Sir Elliott on behalf of the Queen.
Howard would reveal that those few congratulatory lines were easy, as she often read the fine print from her Bible to fellow residents at the nursing home.
Recounting her past, the centenarian recalled that she had to learn to live life on her own from an early age, as her mother had died when she was a girl.
She said a balanced life, including a diet full of rice, pork and lots of ground provisions had contributed to her longevity.
“I live good in doing charity, helping others who are unable to help themselves and so forth. Every morning, I get up and I say a prayer. I say prayers for the others and read The Bible. I pray for from the leader down,” she said.
“Live a clean life and love God in between” was Howard’s advice for those who wanted to someday celebrate their 100th birthday.
“You can’t mess here and mess there, and expect to live a long life. You have to live upright and just, and the Lord will bless you. Unless the Lord blesses you, you can’t live a long life,” she added.
Howard was a member of the Empire Cricket Club, some members of which were present yesterday to congratulate her on her century.
The mum of two, who worked as a seamstress, canteen manager and in the area of room service at the old Hilton Hotel, told Barbados TODAY she had begun counting down to birthday since the beginning of October.