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Nerissa Golding, 100, an exemplary accountant

100 not out

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

Sunday, June 08, 2014    

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BORN in Wain Road District, Portland on May 14, 1914 -- two months before World War 1 — Nerissa Euphemia Golding was good with numbers and spent her working life as an accountant in the Ministry of Health.

An only child, Golding received a solid education and grew up helping as many children as she could on their way to being themselves adequately educated.

Golding attended Titchfield High School in Portland, and Kingston Technical High School after moving from Portland to live in Kingston.

After leaving Kingston Technical where she did accounting, Golding said that she started working at the Ministry of Health as a junior accountant. This was the only place she worked until her retirement at age 60. She left the ministry in the capacity of chief accountant.

"After I retired, I moved here to Harbour View and they called me back for re-employment," a sharp and alert Golding told the Jamaica Observer on Thursday.

"So I spent all my working years there," she went on.

At age 60, Golding received the badge of honour for her outstanding contribution to accounting and for training numerous people in the field.

"I was awarded for meritorious service and he was the person who presented it to me," Golding said. "I was given the award because they said I was very good. I don't know what I did that was so very good, but the people I worked with felt I did something that made me deserving of such an award," she said.

Born to Epsie Anderson and Thomas Golding, Golding spoke with humour of her days growing up.

"I didn't have any brothers and sisters that I know of... and, if I had any, they would have shown up some time or the other and up to now none has shown up," she joked. "My mother was a bit sharper than my father. My father never hit me at any time. My mother never hit me really, but she was kind of aggressive," the 100-year-old recalled.

Though Golding had no children of her own, there were many who called her 'Mother G', both in Jamaica and overseas. She was never married, but came to it. She recounted the event clearly.

"A man wrote my father asking for my hand and he took me to meet his mother. And, apparently I was looking too young or too small in body and she said 'hand full of ring can't do a ting, take her back to she ma!' So that means she didn't want me in her family and we never marry. At that time I was about 22," the centenarian said.

But Golding had no regrets not marrying the man whom she described as "not a bad type, but mean," having found it hard to share things with her.

Golding travelled to France, England, Belgium, the USA, and Canada on a number of occasions, but always felt the need to return home.

Golding's daughter, Olga Gayle, whom she adopted when she was eight years old, said that her mother helped a lot of young people.

"She believed in education, and she likes ambitious people, so she helped a lot of persons," Gayle, who was visiting Golding from England in celebration of her 100th birthday, said from their Harbour View home.

"Mother G gave me the characters to grow up as a lady -- ambition and integrity. She was a very, very calm lady. She pampered me and other children. She gave me a lot of love because my daddy died in a motor vehicle accident and my mother was on her own. So she sent me to a private school, so I was loved," Gayle stated. "When I left Mother G and went to the UK and met my mother there, I wanted to come back home because I was loved by Mother G. She doesn't spank and doesn't rough-up children," Gayle said.

She described growing up with Golding as good, as they had a helper and would be fed healthy meals of fish, lots of vegetables, and fruits on a regular basis.

"There was not a whole lot of chicken and all that. We had a lot of fish and she would take her fish oil and then she always brought me nice clothes. I was always well attired. I wasn't a rude person so she worked with me," Gayle said.

But, she said Golding was very strict and believed in good character and 'not mixing up', thus she did not allow her to go out to parties, and other events.

Gayle believes that one of Golding's reasons for living to 100 years is because her brain was active as an accountant for so many years.

Golding was also known for hosting dozens of people from across Jamaica who needed a place to stay in Kingston on their way to the airport heading to England.

"If they lived in any parish and they going to England they always sleep here for a night or two before they go on their way, because I always try to help people who wanted help," Golding said.

Golding, a lover of ice cream and jello, expresed delight at being alive.

"I am glad to be alive, and most people treat me well... just one or two that don't really bother with me too much, but you are kind to who you can be kind to," she said.

Golding is believed to have helped over 15 children who have lived in her house at some point, along with countless families with their children, especially if their parent (s) had died.

A member of the St Boniface Anglican Church in the community, Golding is no longer able to move around, after falling and damaging her hip last December. Despite surgery, she is still unable to walk around as well as she did up to age 99.

"She was out of hospital and leave other people there still recovering," Gayle said with a laugh," She has good bone structure."

Golding's hearing and vision are still good, while her long and short term memory remain sharp.

One of her favourite phrases remains, 'Life can be beautiful, but it sure can be ugly!'

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