One glance at the chatty and lively Millicent Cave and it is hard to believe this former Chimborazo, St Joseph resident turned 100 today.
Beginning her birthday celebrations early, she gathered with family and friends for a celebratory dinner at the Togetherness House in Jackmans, St Michael on Saturday. Although she was bound to a chair because of arthritis, her spirit was not dampened.
Possessing a sharp memory and quick wit, she was able to accurately recall her life, and how she spent the majority of it caring for other
people, especially her nieces and nephews.
Known in her St Joseph community and at the St Joseph Parish Church for always being willing to lend a hand to those in need, Cave has been honoured by institutions such as the University of West Indies for her contributions.
“I was born to help so I used to help. I helped who I could help,” said Cave, as she recalled how she once woke up at 4 a.m. to speedily rush a pregnant neighbour to the hospital.
Her generous attitude was engrained from a young age when she finished her education at St Joseph Primary School and chose to remain at home and take care of her siblings. Cave reasoned that it was due to her kind and selfless nature that she was able to live such a long and fulfilled life.
“I always had the love of God in my heart and I had a lot of people to help, so I feel it is that – having the Lord and giving people when I could give is what have me here,” she said.
A glass of brandy a day has apparently also contributed to the longevity of the former hairdresser.
Cave’s advice to living a long life is to keep God first and be your neighbour’s keeper.
“Keep to the Lord, be nice to everybody and yourself and I think all will be well,” said the outspoken centenarian. “You have to ask him to help you because you have to go through a lot in life.”
Cave was an active member of St Joseph Parish Church from the age of six, and was also a member of the church army, on the provincial church council, and an alto singer in the church choir.
She was also the fifth Barbadian woman to get a driver’s licence. An incredible accomplishment at that time, she continued to show off her driving expertise until the age of 90. Quite often, she would take her family out for trips, driving to Bath for a family fun day and, by the accounts of her niece Sandra Walker, her foot was heavy on the gas.
Before suffering two heart attacks which resulted in decreased mobility, Cave loved to “work the ground”. Gardening was her favourite past time and she grew produce to both sell and give away.
Her niece recalled that Cave’s gardens were an attraction with many flocking to her Chimborazo home to take pictures.
Walker said the woman was a tower of strength for the family. As she had no children of her own during her marriage to Lloyd Walker, former manager at Andrews Sugar Factory, Cave played a pivotal role in the lives of her nieces, nephews and those in her district.
But it was not all fun and games, as the housewife was quick to give anyone who was out of order a tongue lashing.
“She never used to mince words so if you had to get it, you would get it . . . . She never beat us, but her words…she was known for that,” said her 67-year-old niece.
Those sentiments were also shared by Member of Parliament for St Joseph, Dale Marshall who was well acquainted with the generous and outspoken nature of “Aunty Millicent”.
“[She] was never afraid to state her mind and to say . . . what her views were on topical issues. I always found her to be well informed and completely abreast of the myriad of issues that affected not only her community but all of Barbados,” he said.