By Brittany Brewster
Surrounded by the warmth of loved ones at her Mangrove, St. Peter home, Violet Andora Cumberbatch, Barbados’ latest centenarian, celebrated her proud milestone.
The joyous occasion was made even more special with a visit from President Dame Sandra Mason, who congratulated Cumberbatch on reaching such an impressive age. Amidst the jubilation, the soft-spoken matriarch attributed her longevity to her unwavering faith in God. She was full of gratitude for her blessings.
“I couldn’t be better today, I have all of my family here, and I’m glad that all of them are alive and able to be here. I am alive and I am thankful,” Violet beamed.
As a mother of 12, Cumberbatch has experienced the joys and challenges of raising a large family. However, even at the age of 100, she remains active and resilient, refusing to let life’s obstacles slow her down.
Asked about her daily routine, she admits that she still attends to her kitchen garden, despite her daughter’s advice against it.
“My favourite food is coucou and stew food with rice,” said Violet who once enjoyed preparing her meals. A bad fall in 2018 that resulted in a broken hip, hand and knee, now keeps her out of the kitchen.
Cumberbatch said back in her youth she would wake up early just to cook for her children so they would have something to eat when they returned home.
Reflecting on her mother’s role as the family’s sole provider through her work as a seamstress, Cumberbatch’s daughter, Derlene Nanton, was full of admiration and gratitude for her mother’s dedication to the family. Nanton followed in her footsteps, becoming a seamstress herself at the age of 16.
“My mother was a seamstress and after seeing her struggle with the 10 after losing two of her children I decided to become a seamstress just like her. I am now 62 and I take care of my mother and support the household with both my children and grandchildren because I refuse to let my mother spend her money at her old age,” she said.
Described as a loving and generous woman, Cumberbatch has weathered the heartbreaking loss of four of her 12 children and her husband. However, she never wavered in her commitment to her family, always putting their needs before her own. Throughout it all, she found solace and strength in her steadfast faith.
As she shared stories of her childhood, she recalled how her own mother would get her up early every Sunday to go to church. The centenarian said it is something she would never stop doing because for her, the habit has remained unbroken. She vows to continue attending as long as she is physically able.
“Once I feel good, I’m going every Sunday. We have a lot to praise God for, and the only way I will not go to church is if I’m not feeling well,” she shared with a smile.
With 37 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren, Cumberbatch imparted invaluable wisdom to those present, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a strong connection to faith.
She urged them to stay connected to church and to offer praises to God if they aspire to live a long and fulfilling life.
“I was young too and my mother taught me sense and understanding even when I didn’t want to listen, but she told me to go to church and take in whatever was said in church,” said Cumberbatch.