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'I will not die here'

‘Prexie’ Masters insists that one day he will bid Golden Age Home ‘ta-ta’

BY HG HELPS Editor-at-Large helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, February 09, 2014    

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WINSTON Ian Masters's once energetic life has been put on hold by five strokes which have combined to land him an indefinite sentence at the Golden Age Home in South East St Andrew.

But the setbacks of life have not stained the 68-year-old's intention of getting fully back on his feet and contribute to society in a tangible way again.

'Prexie', as he has been known for nearly 60 years, insisted during an interview with the Jamaica Observer last week that he would continue to sniff at the positive realities of life while maintaining that although he is a resident at the Golden Age Home, he will not die there.

His desire to return home is not a reflection of any bad treatment by those who run the institution, he maintained, but more of a social objective in which the stigma of nursing homes being departure lounges for the old, poor and destitute, can be contradicted.

"I am staying here for now, but I will not die in here. I have seen so many 'body wagons' come and take so many people from here and I tell myself that I am going to get stronger," Masters said.

He has been at the Golden Age Home for three years now and before that he spent time at two other private nursing homes in the Corporate Area.

"I will leave out of here under my own steam - a fitter man... not one who is going to walk and pitch down... I will walk out a healthy man," said Masters, who spent over 30 years working in the area of advertising specialties - producing and selling items like diaries and calendars to large and small clients.

He is often regarded by many as the most passionate Kingston College Old Boy, having attended that distinguished institution in the 89-year-old school's glory days, between 1959 and 1965.

An active boy at school, 'Prexie', who got the nickname from his older brother Prexwell Clive Masters, also a KC alumnus, did track and field, played football, and cricket while at school, going on to be vice-captain of the 'college's Second XI cricket team.

The Rose Town, St Andrew-born Masters, who suffered his first stroke on October 9, 2009, has become exceedingly health conscious and now has a greater appreciation for personal care.

"From the first time I suffered a stroke, I have never made light of an illness. Four strokes hit me in the space of one year, and I got another one since I have been at Golden Age Home. At one time I was taking 22 tablets and capsules per day," he told the Sunday Observer.

Following his high school stint, 'Prexie' ventured into the world of work, starting at West Indies Glass as a laboratory technician and later switched professions to banking, working at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce as a banking officer at the Pineapple Place, Ocho Rios branch.

Following a transfer to Kingston, he also made another shift in the business world, moving to T Geddes Grant as a salesman, intent on convincing clients that the company's business systems were the best available.

Europe beckoned in 1974, and Masters headed off to the continent, making countless stops along that vast expanse, while using Munich, Germany as his base. Another move across the ocean planted him in Lewisham, South East London in England, and after three years, he was back in Jamaica, soon to be greeted by the death of his father.

It was upon his return to 'The Rock' that Masters went into producing and distributing the items including diaries and calendars, mixed with real estate sales for Universal Marketing and Hudson Real Estate.

But then, a near tragedy struck.

"If it wasn't for the stroke, I would still be making money," lamented Masters.

Recounting the first stroke, Masters said that he, like many Jamaican men, paid little attention to the early signs.

"One day I felt a weakness on my left side but I didn't pay it much mind. But after a while, I felt like I was going into a hole and things were getting darker.

"So I called my sister to come over and it must be the fastest she has ever travelled from St Catherine to Kingston to get to me. When my sister saw me she said that I looked like death itself. She said 'come, come, we going a University Hospital'. Up there I was tended to by Nurse (Sandrine) Michelin who did a splendid job with me, along with Dr Arthurs, a Trinidadian," he stated.

Two strokes, almost simultaneously, further pushed his back against the wall, but even another two have failed to dent his focus.

One of his regrets is that he is physically unable to assist his alma mater more, coming from a situation that he helped several boys with their education and was at one time manager of the school's basketball, tennis and table tennis teams all at the same time.

"I wish I could assist KC more, oh God man. It would be good to be in contact with more KC Old Boys; if not a visit, a phone call would do. I am not seeking handouts, I am not destitute, just the camaraderie would be good. I would even love to attend 'Champs' this year," he said.

Prexie's motivation is the Bible, which he reads regularly. Indeed, reading all kinds of material, including newspapers, novels, and academic books, also gets his heart pumping.

"Looking on and seeing how people treat other people ... that motivates me in such a way that when I leave here I am going to do much better and much more. I am going to try to help a lot of people who I met in here. The staff at Golden Age Home has treated me good, people like the nurses Yvonne LaTouche, Sonia Patterson, Mrs Peart and others.

"Apart from the staff, I have made friends with several of the people who stay here ... people who watch my back and will bawl out if anything happens to me. You can relax here. The treatment is better," Masters said.

Except for a pain in his left leg and sometimes his shoulder, and second-hand smoke by some who share the facility, the man who never married, and had no children because he never believed in doing so out of wedlock, is pleased with his level of recovery and has even inserted an exercise programme in his daily routine.

Not being mobile and having to attend to his own recovery has also brought on restrictions in terms of what he can get done.

"My good friend Walter "Blubber" Campbell died the other day and I could not even attend his funeral, so I had to just bawl," he said of the former St George's College Manning Cup football captain, and former Bank of Jamaica employee.

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