Ismay Spooner of Little Africa, Corriverton, known as the oldest person living in Guyana died yesterday at the age of 112.
This newspaper last paid her a visit in October 2011 and was surprised that her voice and her memory were just as sharp as when we visited a few years ago. The jovial woman who loved company was always willing to share stories about her life.
She had told this reporter she was “trying by the grace of God… not of the best, you know old age. Some days are good and some are not.”
She said too that she was “living by the mercy of the almighty.
Without God I am nothing.” At this point she started to sing her favourite hymns and quoted verses from the Bible.
She said she was enjoying a “long life” because “God is the foundation of the world. Every day is a day closer to home.”
Spooner had said she ate any type of food along with porridge provided by a church member she lived with and whom she referred to as her “lil nurse.” She had advised that “after one time comes another. No man should boast because today is one thing and tomorrow is something else. You have to have faith or you would run overboard.”
Spooner, a Barbadian by birth came to Guyana as a young girl to work in the Creole gang on the sugar estate. She recalled with a smile that “early morning the driver [with a foreign accent] would come to pick us up and would say ‘hully, hully [hurry, hurry].’” She also did all types of work in the field as well as in the office.
The woman bore one child for her late husband, also a Barbadian. She lost her child and because of her love for children she adopted three more, although she had outlived two of them. Her surviving adopted daughter resides in Georgetown and visited her monthly. Spooner survived on her pension from the estate.
She attended church regularly before she became “weak” but would “stay home and sing. I begin my day with singing and praying and I end it with that,” she had told this newspaper.
Meanwhile, Pandit Suresh Sugrim, in an interview last evening said he learnt of her passing on Facebook and later from one of her relatives via telephone and was very sad.
He told this newspaper that she was “a special part of my life… She was a great motivation and joy.” He recalled that he visited her for her 110th birthday and fulfilled her request by returning to celebrate her 111th birthday.
He said that although she was blind she still knew whenever he visited. “She said to me that the greatest joy was just having my presence. I can’t find words to describe… Her memory was so sharp…”
According to Sugrim, the woman would “sing wonderful hymns and she talked about her love for God. It was truly inspirational; I asked her what kept her going for 111 years and she said her obedience to her Lord. She said that her doctor is Jesus.”
Sugrim reminisced that Spooner was “so filled with laughter and joy… Just being around her made you happy than any money can buy in this lifetime. I am truly blessed to have had an opportunity to be in her presence and it is something that I would treasure for my lifetime…”
He urged persons to take care of the country’s senior citizens and not to neglect them. Referring to the elders as “our building blocks…,” he said “they have made us what we are today.”
He said too: “They are not looking for much. Take care of them, share a meal with them, sit and talk with them, have a cup of tea with them.
Take their hands and take them for a walk in the evening, and you will be truly, truly blessed.”
He expressed deepest sympathies to Spooner’s caregivers on behalf of his family and the “Humanitarian Mission of New Jersey Arya Samaj and its Guyana Chapter.”