Centenarian Marie Phillips gave birth to two children, but she boasts that she was a mother to hundreds.
Marking her 100th birthday on Thursday, Phillips proudly stated that for many years, she made her contribution to national development through shaping the lives of wards at the now defunct Glendale Children’s Home, St Thomas and Farrs Children’s Home, St Peter, in her role as House Mother.
She told relatives, friends and members of the media who visited her No. 13 Independence Drive, Husbands Gardens, St James home to celebrate with her that some of those whose lives she touched still call to show their appreciation and say “thank you”.
“They tell me, ‘Mummy Phillips, whatever I am, is because of what you had put in me’. I dealt with them as though I brought them into the world, as though they were mine personally, not that I was being paid to take care of them. That is how I felt about them all. I can’t help saying that they were my children,” Phillips said.
The centenarian who is in generally good health was full of joy and laughter as she engaged Acting President The Right Very Reverend Dr Jeffry Gibson in a lively conversation when he paid her a virtual visit.
The mother of deceased legendary calypsonian and prominent business executive Don Jose Lamont Marshall, who was known as Sir Don, told Dr Gibson about how much she loved caring for the wards of the children’s homes.
Phillips, who has five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchildren, said she felt blessed to be surrounded by her loved ones who cherish her and cater to her needs and wants.
She made particular mention of her daughter and caretaker, Magaret-Ann Joseph, who she pointed out was always at her beck and call.
The elderly woman, who looks forward to a meal of tilapia and cou cou or ground provisions, said she spends the majority of her days praying.
“I am not a fanatic. People think because you pray all the time that you are a fanatic. But I have discovered that it is because of the strength that God has given me and he allows me to be able to communicate with other people and not be selfish.
“You know people are alcoholics, I am a prayer-holic,” said a smiling Phillips.
Grandson Matthew Joseph, who introduced himself to the Acting President as Phillips’ favourite grandchild, said it has been an experience living with the matriarch who is the glue that keeps the family together.
“Your upbringing and everything else is what moulded all of us. Everybody here loves you and is here because of you. I just want to say happy 100th and put in a couple more for me,” he said.
Pastor of the King Street Seventh Day Adventist Church Leon Phillips joined the celebration to say a special prayer for Phillips who is a member of his congregation.