Clyde Foster strolling through the neighbourhood on his way to taking a bus. (Picture by Reco Moore.)
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Clyde Foster might be the oldest passenger who rides public transportation.
Unlike people his age, he does not believe in being taken to and from places if he knows what bus to catch.
The active centenarian has a strong sense of independence and compassion for others, which he said contributed to his longevity. He explained that he had a humble upbringing and was taught the importance of sharing from a child.
He added that he always tried to do things for himself instead of using his age as an excuse for others to help him.
When Foster has to go to church, go shopping or to conduct his business in The City, his neighbours and caretakers lock the house for him after helping him to dress and ensuring he has on his hearing aid. He walks out his Waterhall Land, Eagle Hall, St Michael gap on to the main road and waits for a Transport Board bus or public service vehicle (PSV); whichever comes first.
“He does everything for himself,” said Veronica Williams who looks after him with her daughter Angel.
“He is my great aunt’s husband and I love him like he was my grandfather.
“He bathes, cooks, presses, hangs out clothes and does everything else for himself. We just help him tidy up the house, and check for his safety. When he goes out or shops at Pricesmart, he always brings back something for me. I don’t have to tell him I need things like milk, bread, and fruit or so, he brings a bag of groceries for me. And every time he comes back from the market he brings steak fish and cou cou, and all kinds of thing to share.
“Usually when people get his age you have to send for them but not him; he is a strong old man.”
Before Foster celebrated his 100th birthday he used to take a sea bath at Brandon’s Beach every morning around five. He said he enjoyed swimming and spending time on the beach, as it brought back fond memories of his life at sea, and it was a way for him to relax and catch up with other sea bathers who looked forward to his company.
Every Sunday he attends the James Street Methodist Church where his presence is always cherished. He said he liked going to church, going places and catching the bus because people were always kind to him, treated him as though he was family, greeted him with a hug or a kiss and the warm feeling he got when he interacted with them drove his spirit.
“Everywhere I go people like me,” said the centenarian who suffers from no illnesses but is not able to hear well.
“And I am happy that people respect me and show how much they appreciate me, especially my darling Angel who helps me get ready before I leave home, and hooks up my hearing aid for me. Before my wife Beryl died she used to carry me to church, and it has been over 40 years I going there so I still continue.
“I have a lot of friends and all types of different people like me. Anybody at church would do anything for me, and as I got older I got more friends. They like to hug me up, and when it was announced at church that I turned 100, all the young people came and took pictures with me and it made me laugh. So I like when people say they are glad to see and make me feel special.”
Foster added that he was a contented man when it came to food. He said whatever he had at home would make him a hearty meal. Veronica said he liked to eat watermelon, dark cake, sweetbread and cheese and biscuit, noting that he would buy a large block of cheese and keep it in the fridge.
Foster also said living a stress-free life was an important factor in his reaching 100 years. He said he seldom got into arguments and never had a bad mind. He explained that his sharing spirit made him a well-respected man and though most of the elders in his community have passed, their children respected him for the good he did for their family.
“I grew up in a poor family and I knew how to share. So when I grew up I used to work at the port and a friend got me a job on the Harrison Line cargo ship. I used to travel to many places like the States, England, East Africa, South Africa, Switzerland, and the farthest place I went was Japan.
“I liked working on the ship because I was able to afford things for my family and help those in my community.
“I was also able to keep up with the latest fashion trends and buy a lot of boots,” said Foster.
Veronica recalled memories of her childhood when Foster gave her things she never saw before and how everyone used to be amazed at the different things he brought back.
She says she thinks he will live to 150, as he is an active ager. She added that he stopped going to the sea after he fell and hurt his knee recently. (SB)