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‘Sweet hand’ centenarian is joyful, grateful

Margaret Downing enjoys her 104th birthday party. Photo courtesy Denise Scott King

By Betty-Ann Cumberbatch, 74, friend and caretaker

Margaret Downing celebrated her104th birthday ten days ago on December 21. She was born on that day in 1913 to Hilda William and Man Downing (both deceased), both of Brothers Settlement Road, New Grant. Her mother Hilda had two girls early in life, Christiana (deceased) and Margaret. Later in life Hilda had six children, a mix of boys and girls. Margaret was given her father’s surname, which she kept all her life.

She attended New Grant Primary Government which she loved and up to this day boasts that she remembers the names of all the teachers at that time. She began working at age 16 as a domestic worker in a family home and will always speak about her ‘sweet hand’ at the pot and her love of keeping her surroundings clean.

She did this job all her life to provide for her needs and if she became uncomfortable for any reason, would leave the job and get another. Years later she came to Gasparillo at the invitation of a friend and was able to secure a plot of rented land for herself.

With the help of good neighbours and friends, Margaret managed to put a roof over her head where she lived comfortably on her own. She had a kitchen garden, raised common fowls, and in her free time crocheted beautiful doilies for herself and to give as gifts.

Margaret always speaks of being blessed with good friends, and while most are unfortunately no longer around, she always prays for them. She is especially loved by her present caretakers and many others who make time to visit with her at Partners-In-Care, Charles Street, Gasparillo.

She truly lives a life of gratitude. She lost her sight and hearing at the age of 101 but her brain is still very sharp. She loves singing, dancing and praying. She also has not lost her sense of humour and will give jokes to have everyone in laughter.

May God continue to richly bless her through His son, Jesus Christ.