Black Immigrant Daily News
Barbados’ newest centenarian has God on her side, a song in her heart and a very sweet tooth in her smile.
Euthema Iona Kinch has gone most of her 100 years being called by her middle name ‘Iona’ or even ‘Ione’ by those most familiar with her.
Unlike many in her time, Iona only had one child in 1943, a daughter. She was a domestic worker in her prime. She worked at Abbeville Hotel and then at Cave Shepherd before she migrated to the United States of America in 1981.
Chatting with Loop, Iona’s daughter Glenville Austin said her mother was “a very quiet lady, a very quiet type of person”. Yet when asked if her mum ever had to speak to her twice, with a laugh she confessed, “Yes!”
Glenville said her mother still likes to sing and talks a lot now.
She said she feels “great” about her mum reaching this milestone and today due to a quick change of plans, she threw open almost all the doors to her home in St Christopher to welcome family, friends, loved ones and well wishers, in addition to the Aide-de-camp Lt Coast Guard Jamal Wiggins to share in the day’s festivities. Included in the celebration via Zoom, were President of Barbados the Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason and Iona’s great niece, who spearheaded the plans, Heather Stuart.
Heather was very sad and angry that she could not attend in-person because she contracted the flu. Conveying this, she got a bit choked up and sounded somewhat sullen for a second, but quickly she was right as rain, telling the president and all gathered she got herself out of her pity party when she remembered one of her great aunt’s sayings – “Life is not a shop, you can’t call for what you want. You have to take and make do with what you get.” Listening attentively and trying to hear the speakers via Zoom, as Heather said “with what you get”, Auntie Iona actually uttered, “with what you have.”
Her daughter Glenville didn’t mind the shift in plans to her home though. She said, “it feels very great”.
Speaking to her mother’s likes and dislikes, Glenville chuckled and said, “Well she likes sweet things. She has a sweet tooth.”
Iona stays at the Blessed Home for the Elderly in Christ Church and one of her roomies and good mates is actually 99 years old now. Owner of the Home Stephanie Skeete said that she hopes Iona will be able to encourage her friend to reach her own milestone too. Skeete echoed Glenville’s sentiment that Iona loves sweets and encouraged the president to eat some sweets too to hit the big 100. She also shared that Iona loves to watch traffic and people from the Home’s patio.
With Stephanie sitting by her side, Iona and her caregiver sang a duet of The Goodness of God, which Iona taught herself by listening to the song on the radio.
After the president’s Aide-de-camp delivered gifts and a card to Iona, there was a toast to the woman of the hour and the Zoom link ended. Reverend Richard Kellman from St Christopher’s Anglican Church, which Iona used to attend before she went to the Home, came to the house and did communion with the birthday girl.
Talking about church, one of Iona’s two great granddaughters, Brittney told the gathering that when she was born in Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York, her great grandmum is who raised her and took her to school and she never missed one Sunday of church. When they returned to Barbados, Brittney was five years old and their church tradition continued. Laughing Brittney said, “All my memories with her are church -oriented, but oh, she also used to get me pudding and souse every Saturday and sneak me money.”
Iona was never married, but her loving heart was very open and it saw her welcoming Glenville’s three siblings from her dad’s side into her fold as well. Glenville’s brother, Adzil Stuart told Loop, “Favourite memory? Lord, there are so many of them. She was always a very caring person. We lived together as one family. There were always good times and she was very welcoming of me, my brother and sister. We would spend days here and enjoy them all. Ione always made sure we were good and fed and well fed.”