The fuss that was made today over Barbados’s latest centenarian was a surprise, not least to lady of the day, Eureka Lewis, an expert speller.
“I feel great and good and happy because I didn’t know I was somebody,” Lewis told reporters, surprised to find out that all of the fanfare – including a card from the Queen and a visit from the Governor General – at her Sterling, Black Rock, home was for her.
“Well that surprised me, you know that you all think that I am somebody,” Lewis said.
Songs of praise, including The Lord’s Prayer, emerged from the house as the sprightly senior citizen celebrated the milestone in full voice with family and friends.
Granddaughter Rachel Ross remembered her grandmother’s sharp spelling skills, some of which she showcased today for all to hear.
“Looking back, I do not know how she kept up with me always wanting to play with us, we played X and O’s word games. We often took long words and tried to make as many words out of them as we could. She was a sharp speller,” she said.
Lewis, born on August 27, 1918, is the oldest of five siblings: Raul Branker, 80; Dorcas Millington, 92; Egbert Banker, 90; and Ivan Burrows, 94.
Daughter Diane Thorne said that her mother has been living with her for the past 12 years after moving from their family home in Maxwell Hill, Christ Church.
“She used to live in Maxwell, Christ Church; actually she used to live with my daughter; my daughter went to bible school, I brought her down to stay with me and she has been living here for the past 12 years,” Thorne said, adding that her mother likes to read the newspaper and her Bible.
“She reads the newspaper, she reads the Bible and she watches TV sometimes. One time she used to like to watch Days of Our Lives” soap opera, she said.
Ross said that as a child she had lived with her grandmother and had to witness her slaughter a chicken – a horrific experience for the youngster.
“She would tuck the poor fella under the bucket leaving his head out, I do not need to tell you what happened next,” Ross said.
Lewis read aloud the traditional greeting card from Queen Elizabeth, presented to her by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason.
Dame Sandra told Lewis she prayed to reach her age in a similar condition of well-being – still able to read, spell, converse, and stand unaided.
“Having met you I intend to,” she told the centenarian, adding that it is because of persons like Lewis that the second and third generations can achieve astonishing heights.
“It is persons like you that are here that we have been able to achieve what we have achieved. I want everyone here to say thank you to you for example Raul could not have been Raul without you and we as the next generation need to tell the younger generation that we are privileged to know you and we thank you for all you have done for us,” Dame Sandra said.
When asked what is her secret to longevity she said that Jesus loved her and allowed her to live for 100 years.
“Jesus did love me and I feel that he contributed to be this but I do not know. I did not have any proper education,” Lewis said, adding that when she wakes up on mornings the first thing she does is open her eyes.
“When I wake up, I open my eyes and look around and see where I am and I say, ‘Hey I am still living’.”
Lewis became passionate when she gave her advice to the youth stating that she will continue to pray for them to change their lives around.
“All I can tell them is that I will remember them as usual in prayer and that Jesus will answer my prayer and I will live to see some young people that I want change, change and do different things,” she said.
Lewis is the mother of three children, grandmother of eight and great grandmother of thirteen.