A google search revealed a few definitions for the word age. Here are two: 1). One of the stages of life. 2). The length of an existence extending from the beginning to any given time.
I have heard about people living beyond 100 years of age but to personally know one brings me joy and honor. So on the morning of June 2, 2023, it was befitting of me to telephone Ms. Adlyn, and wish her a Happy 104 Birthday. Her voice was chirpy. And in that moment, I couldn’t evade my thoughts of the John Chewit birds roaming the village of Grass Piece on the island of Jamaica. Hearing Ms. Adlyn’s voice in that chirpy manner was the overture to my day. And adding to that, I do believe that the sweet chirps and melodies of birds set the tone for the day ahead.
Ms. Adlyn’s Secret For Longevity
Immediately after conveying my birthday greeting to Ms. Adlyn, the first thing I extracted from her was her secret for longevity. And without hesitation she expressed that it is her strong belief in God, praying, and eating the good yams. And I had no doubt to disbelieve her. Because I have had my own experiences with yams over the years. She mentioned a few yams: yellow, St. Vincent, taw/toi, mozilla, white, negro, renta and yampie. The yellow yam over the years has been her favorite, revealing how nice it is. In a nutshell Ms. Adlyn implied that eating the right foods are conducive to good health. And I certainly endorse that without hesitation.
Place Of Birth
Ms. Adlyn Bernard-Smith who hails from the island of Jamaica, currently resides in the United States of America. She was born June 2, 1919 in Mons District, Maidstone P.O. which is located in the Don Figuerero Mountains and in the parish of Manchester. In some instances the spelling of this mountain is written as “Don Figueroa Mountains”. People have battled over the spellings but one thing they cannot battle about is the physical appearance of the mountains: verdant, cool, tranquil, and mesmerizing. Somewhere in history the mountains in the Maidstone area were referred to as maidens’ breasts because of their shapes. The mountains remain a farmer’s delight or even to the random mongoose dashing across a path without warning.
Member of Nazareth Moravian Church
While Ms. Adlyn lived in Jamaica, she was an ardent church goer and a member of the Nazareth Moravian Church. And to this day, I cannot understand why boys and girls didn’t sit together. Boys sat in pews on one side of the aisle and girls on the other.
I recall Ms. Adlyn’s leadership role at church within the women’s fellowship group. She was extremely dedicated to the cause. She also helped to prepare the Holy Communion table. And God forbid the tough love that was hurled at the ladies who weren’t dressed properly to receive communion. They were expected to be dressed in white, looking like a band of angels. People back in the day swore that white was synonymous with angels, pure and holy. I too was a part of that band of angels. I went into the throng at age 14 more so to experience bread and wine. Looking back I had no clue what I was doing. At this point, I just want to make it clear that the onus to discipline the communion-ladies didn’t only rest with Ms. Adlyn. There were other prominent church members who were tasked to reprimand and counsel those who had fallen out of line, regarding the rules for Holy Communion.
The Moravian Church was a stickler for education. The schools they governed stood as testimonies. The Nazareth Primary School was one such school. And believe it or not, Ms. Adlyn was one of the community members who sat on the parent-teacher board. The Moravians were also adamant about cultivating good discipline and manners. And frankly when it comes to that there were many people at church and within the community who watched us like a hawk, ready to swoop down on us and give us a good scolding. This reminds me of the saying: It takes a village to raise a child.
At church, Ms. Adlyn wore many hats, pun intended. She sang in the choir and she taught Sunday School. She was one of the ladies who had the authority to handle the girls who noisily rolled out sweetie/candy from its wrapper or misbehaved in any other way. A child caught taking a nap during worship would be interrupted because such relaxation was viewed as poor conduct. The expected practice at church is: people gather in the house of the Lord to worship and not sleep and snore. Furthermore, sometimes children break wind as the body relaxes, and as children our first reaction is to giggle. So it’s not hard to figure what happened at church in those moments of disturbance.
I still laugh about such occurrences and wonder how Ms. Adlyn and the other women of strong faith had kept a straight face during the mini explosions. And the truth is such situations always take place when the church is dead silent, except for the minister’s voice from the pulpit. In all of that, one thing that was guaranteed to keep us under control, and that was a stern look. It has been categorized as a nonverbal reprimand. And by all accounts it was used by Ms. Adlyn and others. In those days a misbehaved child responded well to a stern look. It made us cower, be on our Ps and Qs. Because although we were children, whenever the stern voice of an adult was directed at us it had us feeling embarrassed. To wag the index finger at a naughty child was also an effective nonverbal reprimand.
At church, there were times when the stern stares directed at a fidgety child: boy or girl, lacked acceptance. In short the child is a repeat offender. So the best way to handle that child was to remove them from their seat and place them in full view of a female or male helper, for the remainder of the worship exercise. And to clarify the label “helper” as was used in the Moravian Church, when I compare it with the labels used in other denominations, the female helper is a deaconess and the male a deacon. In my adult life misbehaving moments, I refer to them as pastors’ bouncers.
The 104 year old Ms. Adlyn was a self employed seamstress. She custom designed garments on request. Customers told her the styles they desired or wanted and she delivered to their joy and gratitude. I will always remember the church dresses, and dresses that we called frocks, and school uniforms she had sewn for my sisters and I. We wore them until they became dusting cloth, rags, doormats, knee rests, bedding for bed wetters, and rubbing-cloth to shine the floors. That’s what we did back in the day. We recycled items in our own way.
Ms. Adlyn's Children
Ms. Adlyn is the mother of four beautiful and well mannered children: three daughters and one son. The girls are Pauline, Lina and Jacqueline. Ms. Adlyn’s son, Howard Dunkley, was my brother. We shared the same father. Sadly, Howard died in 2004 from the effects of Hurricane Ivan. We miss him, dearly. And guess what; he was a farmer of humble means who produced the best eating yams. GOOD YAMS!
Ms. Adlyn remains a respected citizen of the Maidstone community and surrounding villages in Jamaica. The same has been said of her where she resides in the United States of America. Those of us who have had recent conversations with Ms. Adlyn will readily admit that she still has all her faculties intact. Her wealth of knowledge is massive. She also has a great sense of humor. She joins in bible study and prayer meetings with her family and others via zoom. She does her search for word puzzle every day. And it's important to her to watch the news reports. She is also a fan of Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court. Ms. Adlyn at this point has become an inspiration and more to many of us.
Happy birthday Ms. Adlyn! May you continue to prosper and glow.
Tah-tah! Longevity is a privilege denied to many. Therefore enjoy each moment as they come. They are precious.
Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2023