At 112, Jane Young loves Guinness stout

Centenarian said to be oldest person alive in Jamaica

BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Sunday Observer reporter husseyd@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, July 13, 2013

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AT 112, Jane Young may very well be the oldest person alive in Jamaica today.

'So far she is the oldest person that we know of,' Ingrid Hardy, parish organiser for St Andrew at the National Council for Senior Citizens said. "If there is someone older, nobody has called us about that person yet, so right now she is the oldest that we know of," she said.

"When we heard she was 112, we said we can't let the opportunity pass and therefore we will try to keep up with you to see how you are doing," Hardy told Young at her belated birthday party held two weeks ago at the St Andrew Sunrise Cottage on Manning's Hill Avenue.

Young was born on June 22, 1901 in Milk River, Clarendon.

Hardy said that the oldest person that they had come across since they started a centenarian programme in 1991, was 110. She died at 113 years old.

As the intimate birthday celebrations got under way, Veronica Thompson, 66, Young's adopted daughter and granddaughter whom she raised since she was aged three years, described her as a very stern person.

"She never joke man. I used to be afraid of her," Thompson said. "She didn't laugh and she clap (slap) you as you quint. I used to say that she didn't love me, but when I got big I appreciated it."

Thompson described Young as a good woman who raised a lot of children, though she had none of her own.

"She also raised my father and my aunt. She was a good, good woman. And she raised a lot of children."

Young agreed.

"I don't have any children of my own but mi raise a whole heap of them," Young told the Sunday Observer speaking slowly and in a soft voice.

She grew an approximate 15 children full-time, she said.

But even as she sat on a wheelchair surrounded by her nurse, family members and friends, Young admitted to feeling some amount of discomfort from sitting up for an extended period of time. Nonetheless she was thankful for being alive.

"Mi feel glad and thanking the Lord. But lawd the feeling in the belly man. The belly don't feel too good," she said in a slow groan.

But according to her attending nurse, with the exception of a little pain in the lower area of her body, Young does not suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes or any other ailment. In fact, she can see and hear well, knows her dates, and her memory is still very active.

Young, who was baptised several years ago, said that she is a member of the Sabbath Church and the Church of England. As a result of her Christian faith, she admits to being ready at any time to depart this life.

"If God ready to take me home now, I am ready," she said.

Young recalled having a good childhood when she was growing up with both her parents, who were themselves strict disciplinarians.

But her adopted daughter said, so was she.

"She was stern, but she was kind," Thompson said. "Man she would give you the world!"

Young worked as a farmer and was considered the richest woman in the district of Sedge Pond in Clarendon where they lived at the time.

"She had a lot of cows," Thompson recalled. "She was the first person in the district with a refrigerator. She was the first person in the district with a settee. She was the first person who got a record player. She had a shop and she sold from a pin to an anchor. She sold everything," she said. "She usually buy material (fabric) in Kingston on Luke Lane and would sell it. She sold everything to everybody. She was very resourceful. The shop was more like a wholesale because cane cutters used to come on Friday nights and they would buy a lot of things. She used to do
good business."

Thompson said that on weekends, the store would be open until 3:00 am and people would still come by to make purchases.

"She also helped a lot of people," Thompson continued. "Because people still calling to ask if 'Aunt Jane' is still alive, because when they were going to England it was Aunt Jane who paid the taxi fare. She has helped a lot of people but no one has returned to give thanks," Thompson said.

"I remember growing up with her, it was myself and her niece and she asked me what I would like to do. I told her I wanted to go to school, I had just left primary school. And she asked her niece what she would like to do and she said she wanted to go to England, and she made it possible for her to go to England," Thompson said. "And I stayed with her," she added.

Brenda Brown-Cameron who operates the Cottage, and who has been caring for Young since 2004 also described her as a very stern lady who loves Guinness stout.

"A few weeks ago she ask me for Guinness. So I said to her 'Ms Jane you can't drink Guinness'. She seh 'cho these Guinness nowadays nuh strong", Brown-Cameron said amidst laughter.

"A relative had visited and brought her a few Guinness and I remember using milk and so on, to mix one and give her, and she loves that."

In fact Young does not believe in in-between.

"As old as she is, anything that you giving her from the fridge, it would have to be coming from the freezer. If you giving her a drink, make sure it is frozen. And if you giving her tea the steam would have to be coming out of it," Brown-Cameron said.

Along with Guinness, another of Young's favourite drink is the beverage, Malta.

The caregiver said that they had to be careful of what they were giving her, because she knew good quality stuff.

"You can see that she is a lady who was used to good stuff. If her little finger is not touched at the end of her bath she say you did not wipe this finger or this leg, or you didn't put any lotion here. She likes lotion and she loves powder. When it comes to her hair, she likes it combed. She is what you would call a very 'boasy' lady," Brown-Cameron laughed. "She has lived a good life you can see and sometimes we sit and reminisce with her. To this day I think she is still strict."

But inspite of her strict nature, Young is described as someone who is not hard to deal with.

"It is obvious that she has lived a very sophisticated life and even at this age she still looks forward to that," the caregiver said.

Young loves meat and is always asking for her juice.

Along with enjoying a large slice of her birthday cake and juice, Young was presented with a centenarian cup and a package from the National Council for Senior Citizens.

A lover of sweets and despite the need to lie down, Young did not give up the opportunity to enjoy a large slice of her birthday cake and two cups of ice cream before giving instructions to put some "in the freezer" for later before going inside.

  

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