Sat | May 15, 2021

Centenarian to God: Take my sight, but leave my life - Despite RGD, PATH hurdles, Roslyn Stephens enjoying life at 103

Published:Saturday | January 23, 2021 | 12:10 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer
Roslyn Stephens, 103, has been finding it difficult to get a new birth certificate to renew her passport after the copy she had was misplaced. The RGD has reportedly asked for someone older than her to verify her age so a new document can be issued as ther
Roslyn Stephens, 103, has been finding it difficult to get a new birth certificate to renew her passport after the copy she had was misplaced. The RGD has reportedly asked for someone older than her to verify her age so a new document can be issued as there is no record of her on their system.
Centenarian Roslyn Stephens of Spaldings, Clarendon, shares a light moment with her daughter-in-law Yvonne Knight (left) and her caregiver and granddaughter Tracy Stephens (right). Roslyn, who was a farmer and minister of the gospel, is giving God thanks f
Centenarian Roslyn Stephens of Spaldings, Clarendon, shares a light moment with her daughter-in-law Yvonne Knight (left) and her caregiver and granddaughter Tracy Stephens (right). Roslyn, who was a farmer and minister of the gospel, is giving God thanks for sparing her life and memory, even though she has lost her sight.
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At 103 years old, Roslyn Stephens’ hearing is almost perfect. She also speaks clearly and has a good sense of humour, making known her total commitment and devotion to the Lord.

Now blind, the Spaldings, Clarendon, resident shared that she made a bargain with the Lord to spare her life now that she had lost her sight.

Although Stephens cannot see, that is no issue when it comes to telling the time. She can tell her granddaughter Tracy Stephens, who takes care of her, the correct times in the morning, afternoon or in the evening.

She doesn’t need a clock. In fact, one would think she has one built inside of her as she brags “God tell me the time and I get it right”.

Stephens says that her lifestyle could have been what has powered her longevity.

“Well, mi eat fish, and mi always eat pork and mutton, vegetables and me work hard. Mi exercise very hard. I was a farmer and the Lord give me the strength that I could do what I could do until Him said no more,” she told The Gleaner.

A widow for 24 years now, Stephens has 12 children – who are “in Kingston, some deh a Canada, and some deh a ‘Merica”.

Raising them was not easy, though, she recalled, as the times were tough. But there was one thing she said ensured she never failed with and that was sending them to school, as she did all she could for them.

The last time Stephens travelled to spend time with her children abroad was in the 1990s, after which her passport expired.

Since then, renewing it has been a headache as she said, after paying for a birth certificate search at the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), she was told nothing was found on the system.

“When we went there, they said there was nothing found on the system, that she wasn’t registered or certified to get a birth certificate,” Tracy told The Gleaner.

Now, the centenarian awaits the visits of her children as she can no longer enjoy the thrill of going to see them abroad.

A frustrated Tracy is puzzled that her grandmother is able to vote in every general election, has a taxpayer registration number (TRN), had a previous passport, and yet there is no record in the RGD’s system.

“She voted in the last election 2020 ... . They are saying she will have to apply all over again for a birth certificate, with a part of the process being somebody who knew her before must certify her,” Tracey informed, adding that it is an uphill task as all her companions have passed away.

Tracy told The Gleaner that she is also having problems getting her grandmother back on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education as, after she reapplied last October, she was told payments would be made at the post office.

When she went there, although her grandmother’s name was on the list for payment, it was crossed out with Tracy being told that the cheque was withdrawn.

“I went to the May Pen office and I was questioned about her age as they tried to figure out the reason for the withdrawal,” she related, adding that she provided Stephens’ TRN and voter’s ID.

She is now hoping that the next payment, which is due in February, will finally see her grandmother being able to get back on to the programme.

Throughout the conversation with the centenarian, the recurring theme has been Stephens relationship with God as she spoke of her years in ministry, preaching in communities such as Kendall and Mount Prospect as a member of the Shiloah Church.

Her one wish now is for the younger generation to embrace the Lord as enthusiastically as she has.

“Mi teach them the way to follow God, for there is no other way. Besides, if dem nuh teck it, mi can give them go to church,” she shared.

Until then, she says she is in a state of readiness waiting on the Lord.

“I’m waiting for when the Lord shall come and take me home. Mi ready right now when Him come and teck mi, mi nah say, ‘Go weh’.”

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