Barbados’ newest centenarian Leone Catherine Querino – likely the last to receive the Governor-General of Barbados and an obligatory telegram of congratulation from Queen Elizabeth – declared on Tuesday her disbelief at reaching the milestone.
Appearing in good health and insisting on living on her own, Querino told journalists that around 4.00 every morning at her Hastings, Christ Church apartment, she prays to God who has blessed her with long life and good health.
Under COVID-19 restrictions, Querino received a virtual visit from Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason, president-elect of the republic that Barbados will become next Tuesday, Independence Day.
Though she has hearing issues, she has excellent eyesight, and good long and short-term memory. Relatives said a recent health check on Querino, a member of St Dominic’s Roman Catholic Church, noted that her doctor has said she is not aware of any other centenarian in Barbados who is in such good health.
She said: “When I say my prayers every morning, I just thank God for my blessings. To make me reach 100 years and I can still move around and a lot of people at this age are lying in bed all day long and they can’t move around at all, they can’t do anything. I love my apartment and I like nice things in here and I make sure that everything looks nice.”
Querino, who said she appreciates good food, is known to favour dolphin and flying fish, sweet potato, liver, and beef. She has not consumed any type of alcoholic beverage in the past 25 years and boasts that she only drinks herbal tea.
She said: “I take care of myself, you know. You are your own manager and you have to manage your life. Nobody could manage your life for you, you either do it in a sensible way or you don’t. A lot of the young people today, they don’t care, they are just doing their own kind of things. And I find that a lot of young people today have no manners, they don’t say thank you whenever anybody gives them anything.”
Speaking about self-care, Querino visits the hairdresser regularly to ensure that her hair remains healthy and the greys are not showing.
The mother of Sandra, Marcelyn and Annette, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of eleven said that while her children visit regularly from overseas, she is happy to live alone, although her children insist that a caregiver attends to her for at least a few hours per day.
Her favourite hobbies are cooking, container gardening, admiring her collection of crystals, and she recently gave up yoga.
The bilingual former owner of The Hut boutique said she travelled as far as France and England to source the best quality clothing which many customers looked forward to buying.
Sandra Murphy, 75, Querino’s eldest daughter, explained that her Barbados-born mother moved to Guadeloupe at eight years old, returned home where she got married to a Guyanese, before eventually moving to Trinidad where she spent some time. Querino eventually returned to Barbados where she has remained since.
Murphy said she and her siblings have passed on the strong values their mother taught them to their children and grandchildren. (AH)