102-year-old longs for a retirement home

September 26, 2023
Myrtle Smith
Myrtle Smith

Centenarian Myrtle Smith stood at the entrance to her modest dwelling at Wildman Street in Central Kingston with a smile on her face. She runs her hands on her head and looks down on her bare feet, making sure that she was in a position to entertain visitors.

At the ripe age of 102, an independent Smith lives by herself and carries out her daily duties with very little assistance from her neighbours. Although she can manage on her own, her desire is to be in a retirement home.

"Mi always say mi would go to one when mi reach 102, but dem full up. Mi walk go to a couple of them but dem full and dem a turn back people. Mi nuh think the Government a look out for we enough," Smith told THE STAR.

September is observed in Jamaica as Senior Citizens Month. This week, September 24 to October 1, is being observed as Senior Citizens Week, which is being held under the theme 'Embracing Wisdom, Uniting Generations'.

Smith was born on April 7, 1921, in Auchtembeddie, Manchester, but relocated to Kingston in 1963. The former postmistress also did domestic jobs to care for her five children, four of whom are still alive. She said she also raised a number of abandoned children, two of whom are prominent figures in the local entertainment field. On any given day, Smith can be seen sweeping her yard or walking to Coronation Market or other sections of downtown Kingston to purchase food items or to conduct business. She credits her longevity to her meal choices.

"I don't eat meat at all and I eat a lot of vegetables. I don't use bag coconut powder. I grater my coconut and go to the market and buy mi calalloo and cut it up mi self and cook. Mi like bread but doctor say I mustn't eat too much ... but I do everything fi myself. Mi wash, cook and clean," Smith said.

Her neighbours looked on in admiration as Smith spoke with the news team. A man who identified himself as Kemar, said Smith is a survivor.

"Whole heap a war she live out and she walk go everywhere. She is a very blessed woman because is a lot of people dead leave her. Anytime mi see her a walk with the heavy bags dem, mi always go take it from her because she is a blessed woman, and me doing that gonna make mi get my blessings too. This lady is a gem and should be respected and is respected by everyone in the area man," he said.

Although Smith tries to be as content as possible, she does need assistance. The roof of her one-bedroom dwelling needs to be replaced. She has to set buckets and bath pans to collect water whenever it rains. She also does not have any electricity but her religious convictions will not permit her to steal the utility.

In addition, Smith broke her legs in one of the five serious motor vehicle crashes she was unfortunately involved in. She broke her legs and they were affixed with pins which sometimes causes swelling and pain.

"I am not feeling so good sometimes because mi foot dem swell up and pain mi sometimes. Mi did meet in an accident and break mi leg so metal in mi foot so when rain fall and the time get cold, dem hurt mi but other than that mi okay," she said.

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