Massive turnout on Sister Lew’s day
There was not enough room in the house for all the people who arrived to wish Etheline Lewis 100 happy returns.
In fact, so many people were at the Bibby’s Lane, St Michael residence that the Governor General’s police guard had to lay down some ground rules, such as only 25 people being allowed in the house during Sir Elliott Belgrave’s visit. The rest stayed in the tent outside or along the road.
It was all in honour of a woman described as both lovely and strict, a pleasant woman who knew her way around a belt and was not afraid to use it.
“Sister Lew”, as she is affectionately known, has had many changes of address since her St George origins.
She moved to Bibby’s Lane to raise her eight children, migrated to Canada for eight years, returned to Bibby’s Lane, and now lives with one of her daughters, Thelma Lewis, in Bayland, St Michael.
Thelma said they decided to meet Sir Elliott at Bibby’s Lane as it was the place where her mother spent most of her years, even though it was now the home of her brother Leon.
During the visit, the newest centenarian made Sir Elliott and her well-wishers laugh with her humorous responses, such as “I can’t see but I can eat” and her professed love of beer as well as spontaneously bursting into song.
The once-in-a-lifetime moment was well documented as many family members sported cameras and camcorders to ensure nothing was lost.
Thelma said her role was now one of a 24-hour nurse, telling tales of her mother waking up at 1 a.m. demanding food.
“You only get one mother so it’s a pleasure to take care of her with the help of God,” she said.
Son Noel Lewis said his mother grew up without parents herself, as they died when she was a teenager. As such, he said she told them she wanted them to grow up better than she did and always strived to make sure that happened.
As an agricultural labourer for most of her life, Lewis retired and moved to Canada before returning home.
Now, at 100, she suffers with cataracts but is otherwise said to be in good health for her age. In addition to her children, one of whom has predeceased her; she has 27 grandchildren, more than 30 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren. (CA)