Wed | Mar 3, 2021

Honour your mother, father that your days may be long – Centenarian

Published:Friday | January 22, 2021 | 12:08 AM
Stephen Wright shares a light moment with niece Marcia Carnegie-Ramsamugh and his caregiver and granddaughter, Waldene Levy.
Stephen Wright shares a light moment with niece Marcia Carnegie-Ramsamugh and his caregiver and granddaughter, Waldene Levy.
Centenarian Stephen Wright.
Centenarian Stephen Wright.


Stephen Wright has no doubt in his mind that he is 119 years old. He dismisses what the public records show – which is 109 – with a firm belief in what his mother told him.

“Mi deh yah from 1901, mi madda tell mi sey a dat deh time mi bawn,” he shared with a voice that belied his age.

Wright, who was flanked by his granddaughter, Waldene Levy, and niece Marcia Carnegie Ramsamugh, easily relayed things from his younger years, even besting his relatives on the trip down memory lane.

Commenting on his mother Estelle Simpson, he recalled her first marrying “Wright”, then later Carnegie.

When it comes on to his eight of 10 children (two deceased), he said simply, “Dem scatter scatter inna Jamaica or deh a foreign.”

Wright, in sharing on his longevity, said there is no real secret to it. He accredits it all to the principle laid down in the Bible.

“Honour your mother and your father that your days may be long upon this land; a dat cause me fi a live so long, a dat cause mi fi alive till now,” he shared.

The centenarian, who is too old for farming now, relived his heydays with the Gleaner team as he said there was nothing he enjoyed like tilling the soil.

Back then he was also a district constable with the motto, “dem nuh trouble me so mi nuh trouble dem”.

World War II

However, visiting his children overseas is a dream for the senior as that is one thing he isn’t sure will ever be realised as he does not have a passport or birth certificate.

Wright a war veteran who fought in World War II, said those days he just boarded the ship with an invitation letter.

Following his service in the war, he said he was engaged in the farm work programme, being requested for several years.

These days, Wright said nothing bothers him much, and his only joy right now is to “serve his God and King”.

In fact, he recalls getting the choice to live or die when he was required to amputate his leg, after losing one before.

“When di doctor tell mi sey, if yuh nuh cut dis one yah, yuh a go dead, and if you cut it off you can live few years longer. And mi know sey mi have how much pickney, so mi decide fi serve God and dead,” he related. He said he used to farm everything “from yam, to banana, coconut”; you name it, he planted it.

Wright, a war veteran who fought in both world wars, said his granddaughter, Waldene, took the decision out of his hands as he showered praises on her, causing her to be overcome with emotions.

“So, you come up di mawning (he recalled, addressing the comments to her), and mi tell yuh what doctor run ward and tell mi. Yuh seh to me seh, outa fi live and dead, which one mi rather. Mi seh mi woulda rather fi live, but suppose dead ketch mi, mi nuh haffi go. And you seh, galang go meck di doctor tek off di foot, you wi tek care a mi and thank you from dat deh day until now,” he shared.

The first of 10 children, Wright now has four surviving siblings, a fact he had to correct his granddaughter and niece about, as they thought it was five.

No one could keep a straight face as he shared how one of his siblings died, “Fi yuh (Marcia) daddy dis come yah and siddung inna dah chair deh suh and look pon mi good and tell mi seh, ‘Bwoy, mi have one whole heap a teeth dung a yard fi people and di people dem waan dem teeth.’ Him a go round deh now si how much a di people dem teeth him can lef’ out, but when him a go leave him look inna him pocket fi one billfold. Him gi Diane $1,000 and him sey, ‘When you a go look food, meck up yuh food money’,” he said, adding that four days later, he was awakened with the news that his brother died.

“Mi sey, lawd God kuh yah, every duppy whey inna di world mi see dem deh duppy. Hearty man lef’ all mi siddung ...!” he said, to much laughter.