Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
WHITE HALL, St. Ann:THERE IS never a dull moment when one passes time with Agnes Elizabeth Bamberry, a breast cancer survivor.
The witty 102-year-old, who hails from White Hall, St Ann, is a reservoir filled with colourful stories depicting her life at St George's Elementary School in her native parish, to her later days in Ragsville, Guys Hill, St Catherine, where she has been living for the past 80 years.
"I did love fraction and long division," she laughed, explaining that it was not by choice, but because those were the topics mostly taught in mathematics.
The jovial senior citizen, affectionately called Miss Agnes or Mum, who lost her father at an early age, credits her mother, Roslyn Sharpe, for her upbringing and Christian principles.
"We couldn't fool with her and we never stop go church or Sunday school - that's St George's Church," Miss Agnes recalled. Me wash dem two piece of stick (feet) yah and oil dem and gone a church," she chuckled as she demonstrated how she used coconut oil to rub her feet.
During her lifetime, Miss Agnes worked in several capacities including as a cook at the Guys Hill Primary School and an office clerk at the Guys Hill Market. She also tilled the soil for a number of years.
"We lease land, me and dem children father," she said, pointing out that she had never been married. "We plant yam and cane. We had a big cane field and sell it to the factory, and higglers came in and buy, too," she reflected.
The mother of four - two boys, John and Sylvester, who have passed on, and two girls, Ceceline and Adlin, now living in the United States of America - was also a livestock farmer.
"Me raise me goat, me fowl, me pig. Is the money send all of dem go school," she said proudly.
BANK OF INFORMATION
Several members of Ragsville, including her neighbour and children's relative, Vivine Buddo, a teacher at Guys Hill High School, often solicit information from the articulate centenarian.
"I talk a lot with her because I teach history. So I come to her to glean information from time to time, and she is very good at that," Buddo told The Gleaner. "She is extremely outspoken. She is a woman of substance and she hasn't changed. She is very humourous. She is still the same, even when she is sick."
Donna Blackwood, Miss Agnes' caregiver, told The Gleaner that the knowledgeable elder can outmatch any youngster in any area of discussion.
"I used to collect her pension book and change it, go to shop, do any business for her. She is very intelligent, very nice, very jovial. She is very good company, and she can hold any kinda argument with anybody," Blackwood disclosed.
One of the topics she often discusses is the crime and violence that has been plaguing the society over the years.
"In the ole-time days, you coulda leave yuh house wide open and go anywhere and come back, but yuh can't do it now. The young people dem, not ole people, the young people dem lazy and won't work. Dem tief!" Blackwood opined.
She added: "If dem don't have a job, get one likkle piece a place, nuh, and bill it down and plant two sweet potato, but them nuh do dat. Dem watch yuh, and if yuh plant yuh tings, yuh affi a sleep and watch."
At the same time, she laments the way in which some young ladies attire themselves.
"Dem walk on the road almost naked. Dem don't cover dem body properly!" she declared.
A lover of nature and flowers, Miss Agnes doesn't specialise in the food she eats.
"Me eat all sort of something, you know. Me no partial with nothing as long as the stomach can take it," she said as she burst into laughter.
Miss Agnes, who reads without her glasses, attributes her longevity and happiness to her Christian lifestyle.
"If you have God, you have everything and you don't have nutten to be sad about," she said cheerfully.