Saturday, April 13, 2024

‘. . . As long as He lends me breath’


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ONE HUNDRED has rarely looked so good.

Last Wednesday, Marion Elise Burnham joined the centenarian club, surrounded by Acting Governor General Retired Justice Sherman Moore, family, friends and members of her church at Mount Standfast, St James, home of daughter Cheryl Rivera.

She engaged in lively discussion with Moore. Anecdotes ranged from the talking parrot Nora, a love of shark oil with which she dosed granddaughter Sarah Packer when she visited from England, and reading The Bible without glasses, to her unwavering faith in God.

“It is my desire to keep trusting in the dear Lord as long as He lends me breath,” Burnham said moments after revealing she still attended Sunday school and church at Garden Church of God in St James. One of her favourite Bible passages was Psalm 19.


Fishing community


Earlier, while reflecting on her husband Gideon Burnham who was a mechanic, she said if there was a problem with a vehicle and he couldn’t find it, no one could. He passed away in 1994.

“I never worried to get married again,” she said with a dismissive wave of the left hand and a smile. “I done with that.”

Burnham grew up in the fishing community of Mount Standfast, following her parents Belfield and Clarice Richards into the industry. She later worked as a canteen operator at a cinema and became nanny to the Reid family who owned Lone Star Garage and the Leeward Bus Company. She soon became known as “the girl at Reid” after taking on bookkeeping and office management duties at the bus company with little formal education, after attending St Alban’s Girls’ School. She retired as a maid and housekeeper at Discovery Bay.


Son an Olympian


Marion and Gideon produced seven children – four of whom are still alive – and left a legacy in six grands, seven great-grands and two great-great-grands. Her son late Olympian (1968) Ezra Burnham was a trailblazer in his own right; one of the first Barbadians to earn an athletics scholarship to the United States in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Moore remarked on her knowledge of The Bible and her memory, and wished her well, while noting her family took great care of her.

Tributes were also paid by grandchildren Richard and Sarah Packer, and Marianne Burnham during the vote of thanks. Those gathered sang a lusty rendition of the birthday song and the family celebrated into the evening.

Rivera said her mum had no health challenges and knew which foods to eat, avoiding problems. She said they would celebrate the milestone the entire month. (SAT)


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