Ruby Kathless Brewster’s 100th birthday was made extra special today when her best friend, Icilma Marsh, who became a centenarian last year, showed up to celebrate with her.
Those who witnessed the bonding moment looked on in amazement as Brewster and Marsh, also first cousins, happily greeted each other. The friends from childhood days hugged, kissed, and expressed joy at what a blessing it was to be able to celebrate such a milestone together.
“I am so happy that we can celebrate this day together. We have remained close over the years. It is only that I can’t get by she now, or she can’t get me now that we don’t see one another as we like. But I hear her all the time, we talk over the phone. I thank God that I am able to see this day that many people don’t see,” a delighted Brewster said.
Marsh who said that she was looking forward to celebrating her 101st birthday in August with Brewster at her side, commented that she and her friend would have celebrated many milestones together, but “this is the best”.
“She just behind me. She running to catch me but she can’t catch me. She has been a good friend to me, and I have been a good friend to her. You know, we had our ups and downs like everybody else, but we always remain true to what it means to be good friends,” Marsh said.
Another lady who added a special touch to Brewster’s big day was Governor General Dame Sandra Mason. Dame Sandra too commented on the fact that two friends being able to boast that they became centenarians was indeed a historical moment.
Brewster, who was born in St John, worked as a head cook at the St John Alms House where she was famed for stirring “20 pounds of meal to make cou cou” while standing on a foot stool, before migrating to Britain to work at King’s College Hospital. She returned to Barbados in 1980.
The centenarian’s only child died at 77 years old. Her granddaughter Faye Cooke-Nurse, a prominent communications specialist, told relatives and friends who gathered at Brewster’s younger brother Don Cooke, Sanford St Philip home, that it seemed as though her grandmother’s calling in life was to care for others.
“While granny lived abroad, she did not forget her family in Barbados, making sure she helped them however she could. For granny, family comes first. Her selfless nature and fierce loyalty have seen her raising her niece Karen, opening her home to nephew Junior and caring devotedly for her mother and husband until their deaths.
“Granny also took care of her son, my father, until his death last year. I know that her care and her determination to give daddy all he needed helped him to live years beyond what any of us expected, and through it all, she taught me about a determination unlike any I have ever seen and the power of prayer,” Cooke-Nurse said.
The granddaughter said the centenarian who was known for not mincing her words, was a woman of high standards, progressive and, over the years, has managed to stay abreast with current trends. She has always encouraged her family to reach for the stars, especially when it comes to educational and professional pursuits.
“Blessed with a talent for storytelling, talking with her is never a dull task but a colourful retelling of tales old and new. She recalls incidents from 50 years ago and more, and retells them in her descriptive style which is always entertaining,” Cooke-Nurse said.
Registrar of the Supreme Court, Barbara Cooke-Alleyne, was present to thank her aunt for the many gifts she sent her from Britain. Cooke-Alleyne said she admired how Brewster made sacrifices while living overseas to ensure she helped her relatives. (AH)