Adorned in a beige hat, flowered dress and black shoes, Austin took center stage at her house in Mount Gay St Lucy as she celebrated the milestone with Governor General Dame Sandra Mason, MP for area Peter Phillips and former MP Denis Kellman.
Austin who has three children, two of which are still alive and the same number of grandchildren, smiled from ear to ear as family and friends surrounded her.
In her younger days, she was a labourer at the Mount Gay Plantation not too far away from her home. Life was hard as she became a single mother when her husband passed away.
“My mum was strict because I lost my father when I was four, so she controlled everything. We had to go to school, had to go to church on Sunday mornings. Rain fall or sun shine we had to walk from Mount Gay to Rock Hall but we went. I appreciate it. At the time I didn’t agree with it but it has helped me until today. That is why I thank God for her. It was either that or lashes,” said 64-year-old Douglas Austin, the firstborn son.
He added, “She worked in the sun and rain. On bank holidays when the guys go to the beach or theatre, I had to be flying an iron kite and weed farm ground with her. I had no choice so we could get money to go to school. It did me good because it made me to understand what it is to work hard for what you need. I got nothing free.”
Happily speaking about his mum, Douglas explained that Rudy displayed a great sense of generosity.
“She loved to give to her neighbours. If she had yams, potatoes, it didn’t matter she would give. If she cooked, and you were hungry, you would get something to eat.”
Granddaughter Diann Clarke pointed out that Austin is a devoted member of Rock Hall Christian Mission Church and she ensured that her cousins recited memory verses daily.
“She didn’t really share a lot of licks, she would just threaten us with her stick. Every day, we had to repeat Psalms 23 or you would get the stick.”
Clarke said she believes the secret to her grandmother’s long life was the food she ate which included, sweet potatoes, eddoes, yams and pumpkin.
She reminisced on some of her fondest memories while growing up.
“Every morning we had to eat yard fowl eggs with biscuit and no bread. Then on evenings when we got home from school we had a warm meal.
I had six grandmother plaits going to school, only six. We also would bake some delicious cake with the same eggs.”