The Barnes family celebrates a matriarch
It was more than just a 90th birthday celebration that brought individuals together from all walks of life. It was a day to honour a formidable woman whose mere existence impacts lives positively.
Dr Sylvia Barnes, the only survivor of 10 children, was warmed by the love expressed by close friends and family who gathered at her home in Waltham, Mandeville, on February 26.
The decor of shades of pink and white offered a picturesque scene that complemented the aura of the evening.
"A birthday is the first day of travel around the Sun that will take 365 days. When you travel around the Sun in 365 days, you cover a distance of 585 million miles. When you have the privilege of meeting someone who has done this trip 90 times, you can just imagine the number of miles she has covered," said brother-in-law, Aston Barnes.
Sylvia, like most people on Earth, has no knowledge of the time when God will call her home, but with only a wish that she may see the face of God before going to sleep, she continues to serve Him unwaveringly.
In the words of Billy Watson, treasurer at the Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, she is "a wonderful, dignified lady who has distinguished herself in many ways and whose admiration is second to none. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and all the contributions you made to our young people in the area of education and to the work of the church".
Having lectured at colleges and universities locally and abroad and travelled to various countries for speaking engagements, Sylvia never waned in her efforts as a full-time mother.
"Everybody thinks they have the greatest mother. Looking at her now, you may say she's moving kind of slow, but you didn't see her when I was child, how dynamic she was, how awesome she was. Those of you who would have heard her speak publicly would know what I mean. She would put many a minister to shame," expressed son, Dr Dale Barnes.
He added, "You had to have perfect manners at her table. If you came out of her house, you were cultured, you spoke properly, and it takes you places, places you never expect to go."
In echoing his brother's sentiments, Pastor Baldwin Barnes said, "I don't know of scripture that speaks to four score and 10 or five score, and it simply means that you have gone off the charts, Mom. Today, we celebrate a life well lived, that had made tremendous impact on many. My life has been shaped by her and my dad, and to God be the glory."
Certainly, this powerful woman mothered and mentored hundreds, but she shares a special bond with her daughter-in-law, Dr Polly-Ann Barnes.
"She has lived life in such a way that all those who were around her wanted to live her life. I have tried to emulate her as much as I can. I don't know anyone who can step into her shoes. She is in a class by herself."
Sylvia is at a loss for words when she thinks about God's goodness but is happy for His continued outpouring of grace in her life.