Miss May, Like Her Mother, Hits 100 Years

At 100 years old, Enid Forbes, better known as Miss May, moves around with a walking stick, but her memory is still razor-sharp and her sense of humour seems second to none.

Asked what accounts for her longevity and strength, she told The Beacon: “Good food, good bed and good living. When you get in the bed, you have good romance with yuh partner. If yuh leave that out, yuh naah live nuh life. And don’t you leave out God.”

The centenarian also underscored the importance of benevolence, believing that those who display such trait will eventually be blessed abundantly.

Miss May, who was born 22 April 1922, is the daughter of Alexander Llewellyn as well as Florence Bishop who, according to Miss May, died at age 105.

The new centenarian is originally from Colgate district in St Ann, but she was relocated to live with her paternal grandparents when she was just under two years old.

Her grandparents, Beryl and Daniel Llewellyn, lived at Hyatt’s Field district near Ocho Rios in St Ann. Miss May’s father was their only child, and so they were elated to raise their granddaughter.

Though she is now a Methodist, Miss May grew up in the Salvation Army.

She recalled attending Breadnut Hill Primary School in her native parish, and later Newstead Primary at Cascade in St Mary.

After leaving school, she worked as a domestic helper.

Miss May eventually met a man from Westmoreland, Semon Forbes, and they fell in love and later got married in 1957 – the year of the deadly train crash at Kendal in Manchester, the centenarian recalled.

Her husband left Jamaica for England and she later joined him there.

Several years later, they returned to their homeland to resettle.

They lived at Guy’s Hill district in St Catherine until Mr Forbes passed away in 1988, Miss May said, noting that Hurricane Gilbert devastated parts of the island that same year.

Following her husband’s death, she relocated to Linstead in St Catherine where she is now being cared for by her only child, Alma Clarke, who described her as “a very special woman”.

The centenarian also has two grandchildren, Clive Edwards and Evette Smith, who take great interest in her welfare.

They both live in England, but flew into the island to throw Miss May a memorable party on April 22 – a day after she hit the century. There was cake-cutting, entertainment, dining, and toasts galore.

“Grandma, we love you to the moon and back even though yuh feisty sometimes. You know we love you,” her granddaughter declared, standing in front the audience of predominantly relatives at Biters Garden Restaurant and Lounge in Bog Walk.

Her grandson, in an interview with The Beacon, said: “My grandmother is fierce; she is kind; she is loving; she is the best that anybody could ever want. She has been there for me; she has been just an amazing person.”

One of Miss May’s brothers, Valentine Williamson, 80, expressed hope that he too will make it into the centenarians’ circle. “I am fortunate enough that I am in a family that God gives long life,” he noted.

He added that, although his sister was strict, she is usually loving. “Sister May is not really a sister; she is a mother to me,” Williamson further told the gathering.

Peter Thomas, one of the centenarian’s nephews, is among persons who didn’t grow up around her because she was living in England. But he does not regret eventually getting to know the vivacious woman she once only heard about.

“When I finally get to meet her, I realized that she was not a person who put up with foolishness, and she is not a person who is afraid to give you a piece of her tongue,” he said. He added that he has found his aunt to be a bearer of benevolence, always giving to people who visit her home.

Another nephew, Linton Llewellyn, while underscoring the importance of maintaining a strong family bond, described the milestone as a most wonderful achievement.

“To reach 100 years old and to be called a centenarian is indeed something that is very special; it is a tremendous blessing…” he asserted while lauding Miss May’s cognitive ability. “She’s has a very special intestinal fortitude that I can say is second to none…”

Llewellyn added that another important piece of family history is that Miss May’s father, Alexander, fought in World War I. “He fought bravely in the trenches in Belgium and other European countries and came back as a decorated veteran,” he said.

His wife, Dr. Joan Llewellyn, told the gathering that, although she is a relatively new addition to the family, she has taken to the centenarian partly due to her congeniality.

“She is such a friendly soul and someone that you would always want to be around,” she said. “Aunt May, I admire the qualities that you have displayed… I want you to know that you have left an indelible impression on me and on my daughters.”

Doreen Burton, one of Miss May’s nieces, joined in singing the centenarian’s praise.

She explained that she is particularly ecstatic about Miss May reaching the milestone because, during a conversation they had a few years earlier, she had expressed hope of attaining it.

“I prayed towards that and God has answered and I’ve lived to see you at 100. What a score! Keep on batting,” she advised Miss May.

This story is sponsored by Earlanzo Hudson and his wife Karen Lee-Hudson, relatives of the new centenarian.


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