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Christiana Elizabeth Rose,101, strict and loved to beat

By DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Sunday Observer Staff reporter husseyd@jamaicaoserver.com

Sunday, March 30, 2014    

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She is loved and fondly spoken of by her children.

But one thing is foremost on the top of the list when describing the cheerful Christiana Elizabeth Rose, who turned 101 on March 24, is that she was strict and loved to beat.

"Lawd Jesus she loved to beat!" Catherine Rose, postmistress at the Spanish Town Post Office and one of Rose's 10 remaining children said when asked about her mother.

"She love beat! She love beat! And you couldn't outrun her! When she say she want to beat you, you better run. And if you run she going to catch you. She could run!" the centenarian's daughter recalled with a broad smile.

"She was very disciplined. She grew us really good. She said that one person came to court her daughter and when she asked why he didn't look elsewhere, he said because he heard she grew the best children," she said.

The postmistress described her mother as a blessed and God-fearing woman for as long as she can remember.

"She had been going to her church until when she finally couldn't go, but she still praise her God and she encourages people along the way," she said.

"She took very good care of us. And she could cook! She never used seasoning so she used to say is like her hand has in seasoning because whatever she had, she cooked it and it tasted real good. And she always liked to share with neighbours and friends," the youngest of the siblings said.

Her sentiments were echoed by some of her brothers.

"She was a nice mother, strict, but I mean she would never eat and don't give anybody none," the centenarian's 66-year-old son Joseph said.

"In those days when we were growing up, we couldn't think 'bout carrying girls to the house. We couldn't think 'bout that. And we couldn't go road," he recalled. "When the big brothers going show (movie), man, they had to beg her to let me go, mi couldn't come out of the yard. All when mi big, mi couldn't go road like youths now. When you looking a little girlfriend a pure hiding, man. A mussa when mi reach 'bout 21 mi start get girl," he laughed.

But despite her strict nature, Rose's 56-year-old son, James, described her as the best mother anyone could ever have, especially since her strictness was for their own good.

"She took care of us and every other woman's children in the community," James said.

A laughing Rose agreed that she was in fact strict and that if they did anything wrong she would 'cut their skin'.

"They grew up under rule. But them father stricter than me," she said. "My children don't grow up at dance. And they don't keep company with others who never good. If you a woman and you nuh live nuh life, don't come a mi yard because my husband would run you. And if you don't grow up you pickney dem good, you can't come," she said.

Rose admitted to growing 15 great grandchildren and one great, great grandchild along with her 12 children, two of whom are now deceased. She said however, that they never argued with each other.

"We just sit down and counsel them. If you counsel your children they will behave good," she told the Jamaica Observer from her Kellits, Clarendon home on Friday.

She said that if her children went out, even when they were adults and were told that they could not come in after a particular time, which was set at 9 o'clock, they had to sleep outside, as the door would not be opened.

So strict was her mode of discipline that it was transferred to her children.

She recalled an incident in which two of her sons, both of whom already had their first child, were playing domino when the younger of the two used indecent language. He instantly received a 'box' in the face from his older brother in the presence of the other men playing the game and told by his older brother never to use indecent language in front of him again as he should have respect for him, being older.

"The two of them were big men, got pickney, but that is how I grow them," Rose said with a smile.

Rose said that she grew up in the district of Seven Grounds, Clarendon with her aunt, until she was 17 years old. She attended the Good Hope Elementary School in the nearby community, then went back to live with her mother in Rhoden Hall, her father having died when she was less than a year old. She had six siblings, of which she was the youngest. Today, she is the only one alive.

Rose recalled the many suitors who came calling for her hand in marriage when she was a young girl. She explained that they would write letters expressing their interest in her, as was customary in those days. However, she was not interested - not until her brother convinced her that it was time for her to take a husband.

"A nuff of them write mi, but mi never into them," she said with a laugh. "Mi never reply to none. When that one (husband) write me three letters I didn't answer. Mi telling you the truth. But mi bigger brother come to me one day and begin to talk to me and I told him I didn't want any man, and that I didn't want any who live in Rhoden Hall. But that one wasn't from Rhoden Hall. So him talk and talk until I told him yes. And I am not ashamed, I have no regrets," she said.

Rose said that she was impressed with his ways and his actions and how he treated her.

"It's not like young people now. We grow under rule," she said. "Man take up woman on the road now, but back then they had to carry someone with them and come to the house to ask the parents. When they write letter send to the parents, and if they agree, the man had to carry somebody with him," Rose explained.

"We couldn't go out. All when mi got two pickney for him, mi one still couldn't go him farm. Mi have to hide and go," she said.

The couple had 12 children together - seven boys and five girls.

"When you love the person and you live together and know the person ways - him not telling you any bad words and him know how to talk with you, then it not hard," she said.

Rose said that her husband Edgar George, was a carpenter who emigrated to England in 1961 but fell ill and died there after six years just as he was preparing to return home.

Though she too visited England, it was not until after her husband was buried there that she and her daughter Catherine went to look at his grave.

"I didn't love ship, and I didn't love plane, so I only went to England that one time. Mi never go back," she said.

Rose said that she was an ardent church goer who never thought of going to parties, and couldn't even be seen by her parents dancing to music.

"We never grow up those ways," she said. "When we hear music playing nearby we had to take it easy. We were the only young people who were never seen at dance."

She admitted that she used to work hard, planting her field and attending the Rhoden Hall Anglican Church. There she joined the choir and led fasting services.

Rose's remedy for living long is simple.

"Mi work but mi care myself," she said. "And the Lord is good to me. Ephesians 6 says 'honour your mother and you father that your days may be long on the land'. And him tell the father say nuh provoke the children. So I try to honour my mother and my aunt who grow mi first. I try to be obedient. And if they say don't go out there so, I don't go. And when I get married if I said 'George I'm going somewhere tomorrow' and him say you not going, I don't pass him word. Mi and him involve for many years until him go away and die and him never even use the word 'damn' to mi," she said.

Rose said that these days she does not enjoy much in terms of food as she is not allowed to consume the things that she likes - milk, Ovaltine, Milo and Horlicks. She is also prevented from eating oily and seasoned food, much to her dismay.

"And mi can't get mi good something to drink," she laughed. "Mi used to mix up my milk and egg and Dragon and boil mi cow foot and sit down and eat and drink it," she said.

Rose said that she has had trouble with her leg since 1951 which prevented her from walking, until one had to be amputated at the knee, thus preventing her from moving around as she would like.

But despite her inability to walk, a laughing Rose repeated the 23rd Psalm, stating that the Lord is her shepherd and she will not be in want of anything.

"If you trust in the Lord, and believe in the Lord you will live long. Don't hackle yourself and don't let anybody draw you and toss you. God will keep you," she advised.

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