P.J Patterson still fresh prince at 80
Five years ago, P.J. Patterson promised those in attendance at his then 75th birthday party at RIU that he would see them in a similar setting when he turned 80.
Well, the former prime minister kept his promise, but this time, he went all out.
Sparing nothing, Patterson's 80th birthday weekend of celebration (April 10, 11 & 12) was highlighted by fireworks that lit up the sky above the expansive Hope Botanical Gardens in St Andrew. A music and sports-inspired cake, by the renowned Selena Wong; a large contingent of leaders from the motherland and the region, his children, grandchildren, and classmates, completed the gathering.
A musicologist of no mean order, Patterson was fÍted to the sounds of one of the country's best party bands - Fab Five - complemented by the maestro, Ken 'Dukie' Hamilton, on the turntables on Friday.
On Saturday, the pace changed with the assembling of a group of jazz greats in another classy affair at the historic Devon House, while Sunday morning, he went to church and had brunch with a select few after.
However, what those who witnessed this historic occasion will remember is the ease with which this magnet of a man accommodated guests who turned him into a poster boy. Every step he made, he was forced to stop and snap photos with his admirers and well-wishers, and not once did he show any signs of being tired of the attention.
"Uncle PJ has been too busy to grow old, so he is 20 for the fourth time," quipped his nephew Donald, adding that retirement for the former prime minister meant mending the woes of West Indies cricket.
In fact, every word spoken by Patterson himself reverberated with graciousness, as he recognised those he served within the political vineyard, even if they never served in the same corner.
"This is not a one-day match, it is a series, in the sense that there are other chapters of friends and relatives to celebrate this milestone with," he told his guests, who represented a wide cross-section of his life.
He was blessed to have among them those he entered Calabar High School with, including Simon Clarke, Professor Keith Ellis, a friend John named Stratmann, whom he had not seen since 1957, and Vincent HoSang.
When it came to the time for him to be praised, Patterson was paid one of the best compliments any leader could receive, when the country's Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Peter Phillips, said he led the most cohesive cabinet in modern Jamaica.
Born in rural Hanover in 1935, P.J. Patterson's story is still being written, because there is no stopping this avid 'Fresh Prince'.