By Samuel Whyte
She’s been around a long time, looking fit, strong and ready to continue the journey uninhibited. And she’s been given a clean bill of health!
With such great news, Caroline Marline Benn of Nurney Village, Corentyne, last
Saturday (August 16th) reached the coveted milestone of 100 years.
Many would be glad for her presence, be it in the field of cricket, or whatever activity it is. Many more would be glad for a few tips on longevity, powers of concentration and general good health.
That is why those who cared for Caroline, including her two children, family, friends, those in the Government and the Opposition, Church members and villagers among others, threw a sumptuous birthday party at the Kildonan Community Centre for the centenarian.
Ask how she feels about turning 100, and you’ll get a response that’s straight to the point.
“I feel blessed to reach this milestone. All praise and thanks to God.”
She was born to Delia Benn and Francis Marks, in 1914, at Nurney Village, and understandably holds the village close to her heart.
“I never left this place.”
Going back in time and recalling her childhood years, she said “all dem fancy things were not around; we used coconut oil to rub our skin. We would plait our hair and put on ribbons.
“I went to the Scots School, but I left at Standard Three. I had to assist with household work when everybody gone to the farm.”
After working on the farm they would thereafter go to the Missionary Church for service.
Ms. Benn said that she was never married, but had three children, two of whom are alive.
She reminisced about how she worked various jobs in and around her community, and described the period as “enjoyable days”. She reflected on how much she loved farming and fishing.
“We would go into the trenches and catch fish using our hands and a seine.”
Amazingly, she still takes a few trips once in a while to catch fish with her grandchildren.
“I use a hook now instead,” she said with a chuckle.
Auntie Marline or Mama, as she is fondly called, proudly related what she sincerely believes has been responsible for her longevity. She sang: “It is no secret what God can do, what he’s done for others he’ll do for you. With arms wide open he’ll pardon you, it is no secret what God can do.”
Her other secret in reaching the milestone in good health is “eating good food and constant prayers. I would eat a lot of cassava, plantain, eddo and fruits. My favorite is cassava”.
Putting herself as an example, the centenarian stated that it is important to “honour your parents because it’s God’s will that allowed me to live to meet 100.” She also urges everyone to try and observe the 10 commandments.
Her daughter, Eulaie Mendonca , with whom she resides, described her mother as caring, loving and blessed with a wealth of experience. While there is not an exact count, she is the Grandmother and Great-Grandmother of many. She was also described as the “Village Mother” a person anyone can go to for advice.
Comparing the youths of today versus those of her time, she said that “while they appear to be smarter, because of technology, they lack morals and seem to get ill a lot. In my time we did not have computers and other stuff, but we were well brought up by our elders, we had great respect for them, we could not pass an elder without saying good morning or good day. Today, barely out of their diapers, kids are cursing in the streets. In my day we would have gotten a good thrashing.”
Using the old phrase ‘Dis time nah long time,’ she said that ‘In my younger days, you could have run around naked, without being molested sexually, or so, but not now. You can’t trust anybody, these days,’ she said, shaking her head. “Another thing, you had to go to church. You had to remember God, but now, de young generation doesn’t like church.’
She has no special diet; whatever her daughter provides she will eat. She doesn’t like to eat late. “No late eating for me, and thank God, when I saw the doctor the other day, I have no sickness, No sugar. No pressure.”
Evidently Auntie Marline likes to celebrate, as at one point she rose to her feet and joined in the singing.
All present congratulated her, made special birthday remarks, wished her well and continued good health in the future.
Asked what she would prefer as a birthday gift, she quickly responded “a Berbice Chair…so that I can relax. I hope someone would present me with one quickly”.
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