A retired farmer, Herman Brown, cried tears of joy on Boxing Day when his relatives and friends surprised him with a party in observation of his 80th birthday.
He was born on 24 December 1940.
During the event, held at Top Hill district in Lluidas Vale Division, St. Catherine, Mr. Brown admitted that his relatives succeeded in pulling off the surprise.
They kept the plan close to their chests, and ensured that he was not at home while they put the finishing touches to the preparations.
“I am very glad; this is a surprise to me,” he told the gathering after cutting away the first slice of his birthday cake, which had a picture of him on the surface, and which was coloured to match the blue-and-white themed occasion.
Despite being surprised, Mr. Brown made it clear that he was highly appreciative.
“I appreciate them a lot because I really prove that they have a special love for me. I ask the Lord to continue to bless them,” he said.
Mr. Brown, who had eight siblings, has only a sister who is still alive. His wife also died.
He is originally from Lemon Hall district – not far from Top Hill, where he now resides with his second of seven children, Merlene Brown.
In an emotionally charged tribute, Merlene declared that it was a privilege to have hosted the celebration in honour of a man who didn’t give up on her, notwithstanding the struggles she endured.
She recalled her father being a refuge many years ago when she fled an abusive relationship with three children – the youngest being one year old.
“I can remember that Friday morning when I packed up my three children and bring them to my father’s house,” Merlene told the people in earshot, noting that her dad took good care of her children.
“That is the reason why mi wi do anything for my father… Daddy, mi love yuh. Especially now seeing that my three children have grown up and can give you something and whatsoever, mi love yuh,” Merlene further said while tears streamed down her face.
She did not miss the opportunity to also underscore the importance of children caring for their parents. “If you know what a parent goes through to bring you on this earth, you would love your parents,” she emphasized.
Merlene’s current common-law-husband, Denroy ‘Biggs’ Francis, joined in speaking highly of his father-in-law. He said Mr. Brown has done ‘a lot’ for him. “A di best man that pon earth,” Francis told The Beacon.
Another of Mr. Brown’s daughters, Selace Brown-Wright, indicated that she loves her dad unconditionally.
“My father, if you could see my heart, you would see how much I love you and how I appreciate you,” she said. “I pray that God may lengthen your years – stretch it that you live to see many more [birthdays].”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Mr. Brown’s niece, Madgeline O’Connor, who told the gathering that Mr. Brown treated his nieces and nephews as though they were his biological children.
She recalled him being a refuge in times of financial hardship, and in times of childhood flogging.
“He is my last uncle that’s left; he was a good uncle to us; he was like a hiding place,” O’Connor asserted.
There were other glowing tributes from other members of Mr. Brown’s family, including his daughter Bobbeth Thomas, his grandson Malik Clarke and his brother-in-law Devon Thomas. His nephew Denroy Brown and grandson Fatari Clarke, who are both overseas, did their tributes virtually.
The family, in the meantime, said Mr. Brown is usually on his best behaviour at home.
He is also not a troublemaker at the Sandy Ground Pentecostal Church of God in Top Hill where he worships.
Pastor at the church, Theaphelus Thomas, told persons at the birthday party: “From the time this man (Mr. Brown) became a part of the church, if all the other Christians were as he is, we wouldn’t have any trouble in the church at all. You know that church sometimes gives trouble – people in church sometimes give trouble. Brother Brown nuh give nuh trouble…
“Brother Brown, you have done very well. Not every child can talk so much of their father,” Pastor Thomas added.
Another member of the church, George ‘Lukie’ Mills, joined in commending Mr. Brown for maintaining a good reputation in his community over the years.
“Give thanks to know that you reach 80 years old and you can walk and talk, and you can eat and drink and satisfy yourself,” Mills said.
During an interview with The Beacon, Mr. Brown encouraged young people to ‘live right and loving’.
Asked how he eventually would like people to remember him, he said: “Mi want them to appreciate mi and remember mi for the kindness I have done.”
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