Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
SHE WAS born August 8, 1912, and 100 years later, Rachel Green-Johnson is still going strong, singing for the Lord, and being a living testament of what good food and a happy life can bring.
This centenarian, born to Louisa Brown and Ernest Green, welcomed The Gleaner news team at her home in Haddo, Westmoreland, with the sweet singing of gospel hymns.
Fully aware of the purpose of the visit, she smiled most beautifully and greeted us with handshakes before delving into another of her favourite hymns to the delight of neighbours and family members.
Rachel Green-Johnson, affectionately called 'Ms Green', is a retired farmer from the hillside community of Haddo. Uniquely blessed with great health and an obvious passion for singing, she exudes life, often giving those around her a reason to smile.
"She is a very hard worker. She used to farm way up in the hills. She is a disciplinarian and a strong woman," said her 79-year-old daughter Albertha Johnson, one of seven children of the 10 she gave birth to.
"She worked hard for us and she never allowed us to go hungry. She has always been a great mother. She loves to sing and is a God-fearing woman," added Desmond, one of her sons.
Ms Green is the matriarch of the Haddo community and is highly regarded by her neighbours as a compassionate and decent citizen who looks out for her family and the community.
"I look forward to hearing the singing of gospel songs and repeating of Bible verses by Ms Green on a daily basis. She has an incredibly strong voice for a woman her age," said Desrene Anderson, neighbour.
Bishop G. E. Robinson, pastor of the Haddo First Born Church of the Living God, where Ms Green became a fully baptised member in 1980, lauded her as a model church sister who constantly brought joy to fellow church members.
"One thing I know is that she is always singing, but while never a member of the church choir, she has been a generous and a joyful woman."
Wealth of knowledge
Ms Green attended the Haddo Elementary School, now the Haddo Primary School, and those formative years remain the only formal schooling she ever received, but don't be fooled, as even at the century mark, Ms Green still possesses a wealth of knowledge.
She made ends meet by farming corn, yam, sweet potato, and also rearing goats with her husband Joseph, who died in 1988. This was no ordinary union, as they both enjoyed the corn fields and its many products, including baking cake made from corn for the family.
She is fond of cow's milk and goat milk and enjoys eating yam, dumpling made from crushed corn, banana, dasheen, breadfruit, and her usual dose of 'bizzy tea'. Her diet has never included rice. She also enjoys fish and meat, except chicken.
Lately, she enjoys a cool bottle of Ensure and takes no medication whatsoever because of excellent health.
"She is just truly blessed. How many people live to see this age, much less not having to be visiting the doctors with various ailments? My grandmother is perhaps the only one I know of," declared Sonia Vanriel, a granddaughter, who, along with her favourite grandson Rupert, provide crucial assistance.