Clarissa Geraldine Brathwaite joined the elite club of centenarians today surrounded by family, including those who flew in from the US and the UK for the special occasion.
Brathwaite, dressed in a cream suit and matching hat, was joined by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason and Reverend Angela Phillips of St Patrick’s Anglican Church at her home in Pritchard Hill, St Patricks, Christ Church.
She was surrounded by nine of her ten children, and several of her grand and great grandchildren.
Her first granddaughter, Marcelle Greenidge, who lives in California, gifted her with a photo of her great-great-grandchildren, and another enlarged photo of Brathwaite which she asked everyone, including Dame Sandra to sign.
“I am so happy to have my grandmother and be able to have a gathering like this, because I think with a gathering like this, it only comes when there’s a funeral but here we are. We’re so happy to celebrate life, and with life you have 100 years of it. Think of all the people who never made it to 100,” Greenidge said.
Brathwaite is being cared for by her granddaughters Dawn and Deidre Brathwaite, the latter describing her as “my baby”.
“I was blessed to have a baby that is 100 years old and I’m so proud,” Deidre said, much to the amusement of all in the room.
Dame Sandra, meanwhile, congratulated Brathwaite on reaching this milestone, and presented her with birthday cards from Queen Elizabeth II and herself.
She also shared that like Brathwaite, she also came from a large family; she is one of nine children.
“I know what it is to have occasions like this and as you said, normally you have everybody together when there’s a funeral. Because people and their busy schedules cannot come this time and cannot come the next time; it’s never possible to get everybody together. So it really is a beautiful occasion where [almost] everybody can come to celebrate your life,” Dame Sandra said.
“I tell everybody that I have a lot of duties but this one is the most pleasant and pleasurable one that I have; meeting people as old as you, partly because I want to live to 100 myself. But when I meet somebody looking like you, there is hope for all of us,” she told Brathwaite.
Brathwaite was born in Dolphin Park in St Patricks and received her early education at St Patricks Girls School.
She began working at age ten at Yorkshire Plantation, and was later employed as a domestic worker at the Ministry of Transport and Works.
Brathwaite said her marriage to Charles Herbert Brathwaite produced ten children. Charles died at age 42.
Today Brathwaite is a proud grandmother of 21, great-grandmother of 24, and great-great-grand mother of 12, with another on the way.
She thanked her family and Dame Sandra for sharing her special day, saying she felt “good good good” to become Barbados’ newest centenarian.
She was also full of gratitude to her family for taking care of her.
“Just how I treat the children, they treating me,” she said.
She has been worshipping at St Patricks Anglican Church and is a member of the Mother’s Union.
She attributes her longevity to a regular breakfast of plantains, sardines and biscuits. She also enjoys ground provisions – sweet potato and yams, as well as breadfruit – “old-time food” as she called it.
According to her granddaughters, a normal day will find Brathwaite watching television or chatting with anyone, young or old, who happens to stop by.
“I love my children, my grandchildren, great-grand and everybody,” Brathwaite said. (MCW)