Contributed by Dr Douglas Slater
Ms Germaine Stephens attained the relatively rare milestone of 100 years on November 26, 2021. Globally less than 1 % achieve this feat! Those who do are therefore a rare/lucky/blessed group. There will certainly be multiple factors that contribute (genetics, good nutrition, good health practices ..including mental health) etc.
For mom, Auntie Germaine, aka Teacher Stephens, Tanty and any other endearing terms you may think of, her life experiences like most centenarians, was quite interesting and even exciting. Born and raised in the South Leeward district of SVG, she was one of two female siblings who grew up with a single mother. She began her working life as a primary school teacher moving up the ranks to that of Head Teacher at the Clare Valley primary school where she spent most, and the final part of her career. She has molded the careers of many who passed through her supervision. During her career, she recalls initially walking from home to work (from Chauncey/Questelles area where she grew up) to Hope school, then advanced her mode of transport to a donkey and later a bicycle! ..(note the early healthy lifestyle)
An interesting factor is that while she was born on 26th November and has celebrated her birthday always on that date, one of the many usual administrative errors of the day occurred and was only very much later in life recognised or noted. The date of her registration of birth is what is recorded as her birth date! Dec 21st 1921.
As a teacher, she was a highly respected member of the Community. She was also a fashionista and was always impeccably/elegantly attired. Most who knew her remember the stylish and sophisticated lady on her way to work, to church or any other event. She encourages appropriate dressing and table etiqette always, so that many of us who were accustomed to the spoon, a bowl, a cup as the all purpose “eating tools” were trained to use a variety of cutlery and crockery when dining.
She is a well known and senior member of the Chauncey Methodist Church but also had a balanced secular life. She enjoyed her feting, parties and picnics. At her 100th birthday dinner one of her favourite songs was revealed to be A starry starry Night… as she reminisced on her feting days.
I think however her most important trait was her kindness to all with whom she encountered, and they were many! She was considered privileged in the community mainly due to her academic standing; she was therefore often looked to as a mentor and oh what a superb job she did and continues to do. She demonstrated magnificently how to be a mother without necessarily giving birth to children! She mothered and nurtured many persons, relatives mainly, but others considered to be disadvantaged and or vulnerable. Many have turned out to be successful members of their community and are forever grateful to her. They include Isma, Bridget, Jackie, Dr Dougie Slater and Rev T Anne Daniel ….. and many more! This has been reflected in the many expressions of goodwill to her on the attainment of her 100th.
When asked to what she attributes her longevity,the answer reflects what was earlier stated, multiple factors, but central in her response was her strong belief in God, a healthy lifestyle, and one may add her love and care and concern for others for which it is reasonable to believe that she was repaid with blessings and a long life.
We wish Auntie Germaine continued blessings in the remainder of her very meaningful life.