Give world's oldest person an official funeral

BY OBSERVER ANALYST

Monday, September 25, 2017

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The world's oldest person, Violet Moss Brown, might have died in controversial circumstances September 15, 2017 but that should not be the last word on an extraordinary life that brought pride to Jamaica.

Having already presented her with the Prime Minister's Medal of Appreciation, Mr Andrew Holness can help to ensure that her final moments are not shrouded in scandal by awarding her an official funeral, followed by a decent burial.

Many Jamaicans were saddened to hear of the passing of Moss Brown who, from all accounts, was a sweet old lady. The long-time resident of Duanvale, Trelawny, died at the age of 117 years old at the Fairfield Medical Centre near Montego Bay, St James.

At that grand old age, she entered the famed Guinness Book of Records 2018 book as the world's oldest person in April this year, following the death of Italian Emma Morano, the woman who had held the position previously. Becoming an overnight sensation, Moss Brown was visited by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen; Prime Minister Holness; Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips and Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie, among other dignitaries.

On September 3, representatives of Guinness World Records also called on her to present her with a citation and the 2018 edition of the publication, which documented her rare feat. News reports said Moss Brown accepted the award with her usual broad smile, as she expressed gratitude.

She was said to have been overcome by the visit of Holness, who used the occasion to present her with the Medal of Appreciation in a touching ceremony at her bedside.

In a news release commenting on her death, Opposition Leader Phillips said the passing of the world's oldest woman “signals more than the end of an era; it is also a remarkable story of a life well-lived and worthy of celebration”.

“Even in the twilight of her years, Mrs Brown was vibrant and recalled most of the days of her youth. She offered me a heart-warming prayer, something which will stay with me for the rest of my days,” Dr Phillips said.

He urged all Jamaicans to “emulate the lifelong lessons from her humble and joyful spirit, which were at the core of her existence and happiness”.

Moss Brown's long life brought unprecedented attention to little-known Duanvale, the sleepy Trelawny district miles from Sherwood Content, the birthplace of another Jamaican great, Usain Bolt, the world's fastest man.

But amidst the joy of the celebration of that life, she could not have foreseen that her death would bring such sadness and conflict among her grandchildren, who disagreed about removing her from her home to the medical facility when she complained of not feeling well.

“Aunt V”, as she was affectionately known, reportedly fell ill from dehydration and an irregular heartbeat and died six days after being removed.

“It's so unbelievable to know this is how she left us… lonely and sad, none of her loved ones around, even though she kept asking for them… so undeserving,” Moss Brown's close friend, Joy Laesch was quoted as saying.

Councillor Dunstan Harper, JLP, Sherwood Content Division, who had known Moss Brown for more than 50 years, described her as “a phenomenal woman who could reason with persons and had a wealth of knowledge about persons in the community”, adding: “Jamaica has lost an angel…She was kind, caring, compassionate and loving.”

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