Barbados’ newest centenarian Sylvia Griffith (centre) cutting her birthday cake with friend Phyllis Gittens (left) and granddaughter, Marjorie Wharton. (T. Barker/BGIS)

Barbados’ newest Centenarian, Sylvia Griffith, feels “it is a blessing” to reach 100 years, and is thankful to have spent it with family and friends and President of Barbados, Her Excellency The Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason, who participated via Zoom.

During the birthday celebrations at Cornerstone Nursing Home on Tuesday, Mrs. Griffith shared that she worked as a domestic, and one of the places she did so was at the District “A” Police Station, Station Hill, St. Michael.  “I started work at age 12; I had a very strict grandmother,” she said.

Dame Sandra queried whether Mrs. Griffith was also strict with her grandchildren, to which her granddaughter, Marjorie Wharton, replied: “Yes, she was strict with us, but in a different way.”

Marjorie said she always heard that from very young, her grandmother “was always taking care of other people who were older; looking out for people and helping them to mind their children”.  

The centenarian also shared that she could not sing any song that was not religious, when growing up, which was something that she respected.  So, she grew to depend on much of the religious music – psalms and hymns – of that day, which she still cherishes.

Nurse Rudolph Jones, who met her as part of his duties, said that they formed a bond, and now she views him as a grandson.  He said that Mrs. Griffith “is kind, caring, and brings that personality of a grandmother which is love and warmth”.

He added that she would always reach out to anyone around her to enquire about them and their families, and if she did not see them for a while, would check on them to ensure that they were well and not working too hard.

When Mrs. Griffith received the birthday card with a picture of Dame Sandra, she remarked that the President is a “smart looking girl” and that she would treasure the card.  She added that the card shows that “you all care for me”.

Dame Sandra, noting that it was Mrs. Griffith “joyful spirit”, which contributed to her long life, wished the centenarian all the best and thanked her for allowing her “to be a part of this momentous occasion”.

One of Mrs. Griffith’s favourite foods is chicken feet.  In addition to chicken feet, she likes breadfruit and ground provisions, including yam, sweet potato and cassava.

She was married to Leroy Griffith, who died in 2004.  She had one child, Sheila Wharton, now deceased.  Mrs. Griffith has one grandchild and no great-grandchildren. 

Troy Barker

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