Centenarian Rachel Brown praised for her compassion

Sunday Observer reporter

Sunday, November 18, 2018

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Rachel Lilia Brown's home in Keystone, St Catherine was still in celebration mode on October 24, a day after she marked her 100th birthday with her nine children, 14 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.

At 100, Brown's eyes have grown dim, and her hearing impaired, but her wide grin and soft chuckle indicated a cheerful disposition.

Born in Perth Town, Trelawny, Brown grew up in a big family as the fifth of seven children. That, according to the centenarian's first son, Denniston, prepared her for having an even bigger family of nine children.

“Growing up in the country with limited resources taught her to maximise every resource that came her way and instilled a great work ethic in her,” he said.

“Having many siblings taught her the joy that sharing brings. This spirit of generosity has been an indelible character trait in her to this day,” Denniston added.

His brother Lloyd agreed, adding that his mother has lived a full life nurturing, educating, and inspiring her family through tough times.

“We all knew that when times were the toughest in the family, invariably, the strongest and wisest person was Mama, our pillar of strength and grace,” he said.

Strength and wisdom served Brown well as she sought to make life as a full-time mother and seamstress when she moved to Kingston with her husband Clayton.

“Mama did not complete high school, yet she was our counsellor, giving the most salient advice,” another son, Carlton, explained. “She was our doctor who created remedies to heal almost overnight. She was the banker who would make a few dollars stretch to take care of all the household needs and still have a few dollars to set aside. She was our philosopher, helping us to make sense out of what seemed like nonsense.”

Nodding in agreement, the centenarian's daughter, Clarita, added that her mother's Christian faith is one of her most distinguishing qualities.

'One thing I can tell you about Mama, she is a Christian first”, she said. “Age has not diminished Rachel's grace, beauty and love for people and God.”

Her brother Lloyd interjected: “She not only went to church, she took her children to church in the morning. Then we had to be back for Sunday School, and that was not optional.”

The centenarian was also praised as “a woman of compassion” who would always share even the smallest of anything she had.

“Showing compassion comes easily to Mama. All who come to the house can be assured they will receive something from this kind and compassionate woman. She was quick to assist anyone in need, and always reached out to help the poor,” Carlton said.

“She is a woman of effortless grace and beauty. Her clothes are well-made and elegant. She dresses in colourful linen and silk, always having a pair of shoes, bag, and hat to match. And she always faces tomorrow with a smile,” he added.

Another daughter, Sandra, described her mother as “an amazing woman whose life has touched the lives of many people. She has a welcoming and winsome personality that is attractive to anyone she is around. She has treated everyone she meets with respect and kindness, whether you are the governor general or the garbage man”.

Great grandson, Caleb, who travelled from Canada for the celebration, said it was important for him to make the trip.

“When I heard that she would be turning 100, I knew I had to be here with her for this occasion. Even when I was leaving school and I told my teachers that my great grandmother was going to be celebrating her 100th birthday, they were like, 'you have to go'. I am really happy to be here to celebrate with her,” the young man said.

Lloyd, reflecting on his mother's life, offered: “People's lives are sometimes measured by the material things they acquire in a lifetime. I think the greatest measure of a person is not the material substance he or she leaves behind, but the lives impacted and the love that one leaves behind.”

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