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Don’t let your mind rule you!

Centenarian’s advice for a life well-lived

St Theresa’s Parish, Woodbrook recently celebrated one of its most esteemed parishioners, centenarian Paulina Amoy Amar nee Chatolal, who was born  June 26, 1922 in Arouca, and has been a member of the community for over 60 years. The following article was written by fellow parishioner Patricia Chuckaree.

While I have had the honour of getting to know Paulina over the years as a fellow parishioner, it was during this heartfelt interview that the tapestry of her life unfolded before my eyes, revealing the enchanting tales that have shaped her into the remarkable woman she is today.

Paulina’s father came to Trinidad from China and worked in the forest while her mother was a homemaker. She had two brothers whom her father took to China at ages three and four, and she eventually lost contact with them.

Attending school was challenging for Paulina in those days, as she had to complete chores before going to class then walk a long distance from home. Times were hard and her parents could only afford two copy books and a pencil.

Paulina was baptised at the Arouca Catholic Church and got married at age 18 at  St Joseph RC Church. She and her husband moved to Port of Spain after they were married. She has four sons (one deceased), 14 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Paulina recalls she enjoyed travelling on the train but also experienced difficult times during the World Wars when ration cards were used for food.

Embedded within the depths of her being, there resides a cherished mantra that has become a guiding light in Paulina’s journey: “Don’t let your mind rule you.”

This simple yet profound saying has bestowed upon her an unwavering strength and determination, enabling her to weather life’s storms and triumph over adversities that have crossed her path throughout the years.

Paulina’s daily routine begins with her offering morning prayer, then she indulges in a nourishing breakfast which includes quaker oats and a steaming cup of coffee.  Her fondness for the beloved soap operas – The Young & Restless and Bold & Beautiful – adds a touch of entertainment to her day.

Paulina also seamlessly navigates the digital realm with her smartphone, utilising it to explore the vast expanse of YouTube videos. Moreover, she finds solace and creative fulfilment in sewing, knitting, and crafting beautiful creations for her beloved family members.

Additionally, her green thumb gives her joy and satisfaction in nurturing her beloved plants, witnessing their growth and beauty as a testament to her tender care.

I was delighted to view some videos of Paulina’s 99th and 100th birthday celebrations during which she played with her great-grandchildren’s toys and danced the night away in her beautiful and fashionable dress. Paulina recently rose to fame as these videos of her enjoying her life have gone viral on social media platforms.

Paulina is also known for her humour. When her grandchildren say, “Granny, you’re the best thing since sliced bread”, she cleverly retorts “Child, I am older than sliced bread!”.

Paulina always maintains a kind and encouraging demeanour and can often be found attending Mass at St Theresa’s. She finds comfort in her religious faith as she enjoys conversations with Jesus through prayer and feels grounded by her beliefs.

In 2022 she was given a special blessing by our then newly appointed Parish Priest, Fr Carlyle Guiseppi CSSp, in honour of her 100th birthday. Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox also presented her with a medal from the Ministry on becoming a centenarian. At that time, the media asked her to reveal her secret to her long life to which she responded, “Eat no sugar, eat healthy foods and pray always!”

During the interview, Paulina shared her perspective on Trinidad’s state of affairs, noting that the country was much cleaner and safer in the past. She feels that Trinidad should be more improved than it currently is.

Paulina’s vibrant personality lifts the mood of any gathering. She is the life of any party and a kind-hearted and humorous person who is admired by many.

In June 2023, young-at-heart Paulina turned 101 years old. For her, every day is a new chapter in her own unique story which is filled with warmth, love and the simple joys that make her life truly extraordinary.

We extend sincere birthday greetings to Paulina and wish her God’s richest blessings so she may continue to dance to the Lord’s music.