Guyana’s oldest turns 111
By Leon Suseran
Two years ago, she was featured in this newspaper on her 109th birth anniversary. Since then Kaieteur News has placed Mrs. Ismay Spooner, Guyana’s oldest living person, exactly where she deserves to be…on a pinnacle. This much appreciated and treasured senior citizen is truly a gem among us. Her gracing the pages of this newspaper has resulted in many organizations and individuals becoming aware of the existence of this great soul.
Mrs. Spooner, a resident of Little Africa, Corriverton, Berbice, celebrated her 111th birthday yesterday and received a special visit from President of the New Jersey Arya Samaj Humanitarian Mission (NJASHM), Pandit Suresh Sugrim and his family. He also took some items for her.
As soon as Pandit Sugrim and his family, along with Kaieteur News, arrived, Mrs. Spooner began to sing religious songs of praise. She is still quite talkative; she always has been. For a woman her age, she hears quite well and her mouth is just as strong to speak. All her faculties are intact.
We sat around her bedside and she, sitting up on her bed aside Pandit Sugrim, sang and prayed for us. After the session, she was garlanded by Mrs Sugrim, an act of worship, since a garland is a symbol of praise and honour to someone who is held in very high esteem. And Mrs Spooner deserves this, since she has been placed on this earth for a very, very long time. She is in remarkably good health and still enjoys singing for any and every one who visits her.
Ismay was born in Barbados on December 27, 1900 to Bajan parents. Her father, Livingston, died before she was born, but her mother Louise, lived to the ripe old age of 102. Her two brothers and two sisters are all deceased, leaving her as the only surviving member of her family.
She married Harold Spooner, a cane-harvester in British Guiana. He is also deceased.
The centenarian recounted that she left Barbados at age 10, with her mother and uncles, for British Guiana.
Pandit Sugrim said that Mrs Spooner has been a special part of his life “through the inspiration of Kaieteur News”. He asserted that she is a great motivation and joy. He has fulfilled her wish of last year after she requested that he return to Guyana to celebrate her 111th birthday.
“I know she lost her eyesight but she is very sensitive and she said to me that the greatest joy was just having my presence,” he added.
“I can’t find words to describe… for 111 years, her memory is so sharp; that she can sit down and take you back 70 years of her life and all of the wonderful songs and Gospel music, and she talks about her love for God. It is truly inspirational.”
“I asked her what kept her going for 111 years and she said her obedience to her Lord,” Pandit Sugrim noted.
He continued: “She said that her doctor is Jesus. Just being around her, she is so filled with laughter and joy and she makes you richer than any money can buy in this lifetime. I am truly blessed to have an opportunity to be in her presence and it is something that I would treasure for my lifetime until the Lord takes me home, because I have travelled to so many countries and I have not met anyone of 111 years that is so intact with their memories and stories.”
Pandit Sugrim urged persons to take care of the country’s senior citizens.
“Do not neglect the seniors in our communities. I refer to them as our building blocks. They have made us what we are here today. They’re not looking for much. Take care of them, share a meal with them, sit and talk with them, have a cup of tea with them. Take their hands and take them for a walk in the evening, and you will be truly, truly blessed.”
According to her caretaker and friend, Iris February, who has been caring for her since 2002, a special service in Mrs. Spooner’s honour would have been held later yesterday at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Corriverton. The family was also cooking up all sorts of foods and goodies to take to the church in celebration of the longevity of Mrs. Spooner.
The management and staff of Kaieteur News wish this awe-inspiring centenarian all the best.