Thu | Jun 21, 2018

Olivia eyes a century - Lack of caregiver only concern for sprightly 99-year-old

Published:Sunday | July 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Olivia Pascoe

Olivia Pascoe, who will celebrate her 100th birthday in August, can effortlessly recite all 16 verses of Psalm 91 as she shows that her brain is still sharp.

The witty, no-nonsense resident of Tamarind Grove, St Andrew, is also impressive in her recital of several other passages of scripture and knows many hymns from memory.

"I'm blessed. It's so sweet to trust in Jesus and lean on his shoulders," said Pascoe.

"God is in front of me, and I walk behind Him. If you don't put God in front of you, you shall never reach anywhere."

A former vendor in the Papine market and a shopkeeper, Pascoe had no difficulty recalling the details of her quest to accomplish her dream of home ownership.

"A wuk hard - not work, wuk!" she emphasised. "I always wanted to own a home," she added, citing the proverbial saying, 'Mother has, father has, blessed is the child who has his own'.

Each time she went to the market to sell, she would remind herself of what she wanted to achieve. While saving towards her goal, she frequently asked her friends and acquaintances if they knew of any property for sale.

The year 1962 was symbolic for her, as not only was it the year that the country gained its Independence, but also the year she was ushered into her independence of home ownership.

With her husband, Egbert, a construction worker, she acquired a two-bedroom brick and mortar house in Tamarind Grove, using their savings.

In an effort to improve the structure, she obtained a loan from the Westmoreland Building Society, which subsequently became the Jamaica National Building Society; and which, earlier this year, transitioned into JN Bank.

Pascoe, who still lives in her home, built two other houses, a shop and a cookshop on the property over time.

"When you borrow money, pay it back quick, quick. Don't let the loan pile up," advised Pascoe, who received three loans. "Jamaica National was so good to me. In fact, I call it a college. It doesn't turn away anyone."

She is disheartened that she did not benefit from her rental property as much she had anticipated, noting that, "If all the tenants were paying rent over the years, I would have been able to purchase Beverly Hills."

Pascoe was born on August 17, 1917 in Woodford, St Andrew, to Clementina Nicholson, a market vendor, and George Nicholson, a farmer.

She was the second child of seven children - four boys and three girls - and was married to Egbert for nearly 50 years, before he passed away in 1982.




The senior citizen, who has diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and ulcers, is very independent and has been looking after herself.

Now that she is getting feeble, she is hopeful that someone will assist with her daily care. With no immediate relatives, she is unsure of what the future may hold. However, she is grateful that one of her tenants assists her with occasional errands.

"I had one child - a son, who lived overseas - but he passed away. My five grandchildren are living in Chicago; however, after my son died, I lost touch with them," said Pascoe.

She explained that she fostered a child who was abandoned in a market downtown, at one year old, whom she cared for until she was 14. However, the relationship did not turn out favourably; hence, the child, now an adult, no longer lives with her. Her attempts to reconcile their relationship have been unsuccessful.

"No matter what, I still love her. She was with me for 14 years. She was like my own child. The only difference with her is that I didn't feel any birth pain," said Pascoe.

The soon-to-be centenarian maintains a positive outlook on life. And, despite the routine of daily living becoming an uphill struggle, she is adamant that she will not allow the challenges to inundate her spirit. She takes solace in the promises of the Bible that the Lord will sustain her.