Fish and vegetables keep Hanover senior going
At 105, Leonora Watson still goes to church, cooks, sweeps yard
It’s not every day someone lives to be actively involved in the rearing of children from the third generation of their family. Centenarian Leanora Watson, an example of such, is confident that she will live to nurture and raise her fourth generation of relatives.
“Me gwaan live to see di fourth generation, all dem yah gwaan give me grandpickney,” Watson declared as she pointed to her great-grandson, whom she readies for basic school daily.
In a spirited conversation with the Jamaica Observer last Thursday, the Hanover native declared: “Me a 105”. A household name in the community of Brissett, near the capital of Lucea in the parish, Watson said she celebrated her birthday on February 18.
She boasted that despite her age, she’s still very involved in her household and community.
“Me cook, me sweep up di yard. This morning me go a Lucea and come back,” the centenarian bragged as she smiled. “Me go church too yuh nuh, up to Sunday gone me go a church. Me go a me church when me feel good ‘cause sometimes the feeling go an come, but when di feeling is right me go church an me ask God fi carry me safe an carry me back an Him help me.”
What’s the secret? The bubbly centenarian noted that she is a vegetarian.
“Me nuh eat nuh meat at all. Me eat fish and veg. You need fi stop eat meat,” she stated when asked.
Her granddaughter Joan Chambers, who is Watson’s caregiver, told the Sunday Observer that Watson is not fond of processed foods.
“If me get tin mackerel an me eat, she nuh eat tin mackerel, she say weh American get so much fish put inna one tin,” Chambers related, to which her grandmother chimed in: “Eeeh weh dem get so much fish.”
“If you give her sardine she say nuh buy it wid yuh money, dem yah too raw, dem will raw up yuh place, a ‘raw-raw’ dem. Only thing inna tin she eat a bake bean,” Chambers continued.
Miss Lea, as she is affectionately called, soon explained that she is satisfied with what is provided.
“Me nuh unsatisfied enuh. If me get tea an two crackers me give God thanks an gone to mi bed. If she nuh have fish an veg fi give me, me satisfy,” she pointed out.
“Me nuh love rice an if me eat yam tonight, nuh give me tomorrow night, me nuh want it. Tea and porridge, oats porridge, cornmeal porridge, an me gone to mi bed an give God thanks,” Watson said.
Watson also lives by the philosophy that even in pain you should be grateful, reasoning that without pain you wouldn’t know something is wrong.
“Me sick wid mi eye but me gi God thanks dem nuh shet (shut) dung, mi gi God thanks’, dem nuh close dung. Me can walk up an dung and see,” said Watson. “Di two-foot man bother me. Me got arthritis inna dem but me tek olive oil anoint an rub dem.”
“Sometimes...di eye dem scratch me but me nah scrape it, me too old fi scrape eye. Me too old fi go a Cuba. Me cyaa go a Cuba man. If me go Cuba me nah come back,” she jokingly said, making reference to an initiative whereby Jamaicans receive free eye surgeries under the Cuban eye care programme.
The centenarian professed her belief that God will help her with her eyesight as “me believe inna di man weh put di eye inna mi head say Him will help mi; Him nah go mek dem close down.”
She noted that she lives a life of thanksgiving.
“Me go brush me teeth, me give Him thanks. Me bathe, mi give Him thanks, me sweep up di yard, me give Him thanks. Everything that me do, me give Him thanks. He is worthy to be praised... 105? Dat nuh likkle bit,” she noted. “Me give God thanks man, me give God thanks.”
The mother of four, told the Sunday Observer of her commitment to care for her family. She noted that in her youth, she worked tirelessly to ensure they were provided for.
“Me nuh work, but me wuk fi mi children dem an grandchildren,” she stated.
Listing a myriad of places where she was employed, the centenarian recounted her years working with persons she identified as Georgie, Q, Riley and some gentlemen from England called Mr Newport and Mr Frater.
“Me work fi West Indies Sugar Company a Westmoreland, pick up di drop cane dem; me clean di ice factory yard; me work a Riley, weed cane an drop manure; an me work up a Rusea’s school, wash di boarder children dem clothes an iron dem,” Watson outlined.
“Whole heap a work, so if me a feel pain now me affi gi God thanks.”
When asked whether she was married, she had the most unique response.
“Cho, dat husband dead man,” she said nonchalantly. “Me husband dead, me pray God fi him, an him dead for him bad,” she continued bursting into laughter.
She reasoned that because her husband treated her badly, she was happy her prayers were answered when he died.
“Mi last pickney a one girl and sometimes she couldn’t go a school and me say to him say, ‘Jenny you cya go a school’ and she say she deh beg God fi tek piece a stick an use it beat him pa an God go cut di piece a stick an beat him,” she told the Sunday Observer erupting into laughter once more.