By Shamar Blunt
Trinidadian by birth, but Bajan to the bone – these words accurately describe Barbados’ newest centenarian, Margarita Yola Parris, who celebrated her special day amongst close family on Thursday at her Christ Church residence.
While surrounded by her two daughters and other close family members, Parris was all smiles and beamed with joy as the Governor General Dame Sandra Mason paid her a celebratory call via Skype, as she was unable to visit in person due to COVID-19 precautions.
During her conversation, Parris said she did not see herself as a centenarian, but instead boasted she was only “21 years old”.
Parris also revealed she never outwardly aimed to be 100 years old.n “I did not want to be 100, because I said they would put me in a rocking chair in the sun, and I did not want that at all, but I have passed the rocking chair,” she joked.
Parris also added: “I am sorry my husband [Conrad Parris] isn’t here, we were married for 56 years, but I think
of him all the time.”
Though Parris has lived most of her latter years here on the island, she still remains very fond of her island of birth, Trinidad, which her daughter Carolyn Boyce revealed had often led to humourous situations whenever they travelled back to her hometown.
“I told her it’s no use having a Trinidadian passport, a Barbadian passport is far better to have. So she surrendered that, but every time we go to Trinidad [she asks], ‘should I take my passport with me?’ One that has long expired.
“What’s worse, is that when we go to Trinidad, they ask how long she is staying because she has a Bajan passport, so that is insulting to her.
Imagine that, they asking how long I staying, she says but I come from her,” Boyce added.
In her earlier days, Parris attended the Roman Catholic School and Secretarial School in Trinidad, and worked as a bookkeeper and an accountant for many years.
Formerly an avid bridge player before the COVID-19 pandemic, Parris’ main love begins and ends on food, and in particular, Trinidadian cuisine.
Her granddaughter, Lesley Granderson, shared her special memories of her grandmother while growing up around her, and said Parris continues to remain a serious cook.
“Come home from school, I remember granny used to fix whatever I wanted for lunch. So she used to make hand-cut fries, she would make this amazing curry, Trini food, and some bakes and stuff like that. Anything I wanted, all I had to do was ask,” Granderson revealed.
Though she is known to her family as being a very sociable person, with COVID-19 hampering what would have normally been a larger celebration, Parris hopes she can once again see more of her friends and family soon face to face, as the pandemic spread decreases.
Parris has two children, one grandchild, and no great-grands.