Gingerland-Nevis – Miss Eileen Smithen of Zion Village in Gingerland, aka ‘Blind Eileen,’ appeared quite calm and composed as she sat on her bed and faced the television camera on Monday, June 19, 2017.
Yet it was a very significant occasion for her, being that it is now just one more day before the anticipated celebration of her 100th birthday.
As she prepared to have a chat with TV Journalist, Curtis Morton and Pastor Theophilus Kelly, who she referred to as her main caretaker, she insisted that her hair be combed properly for television viewing.
She recounted in humorous detail some of the good old days of growing up within her community and the huge distances that she had to cover to get a single bucket of water; once from Market Shop but most of the times from near the Police Station, down New River or ‘over the Ghaut.’
She addressed the issues in those days of some people showing up with many buckets and intending to fill all, before other persons got their one bucket filled. This led to arguments and sometimes fights.
She also clearly remembered that after one such journey with her bucket of water, she slipped in her yard and the entire bucket of water spilled out and she had to do the entire trip all over again, much to the amusement of her mother, while she herself was not in the least amused.
She told the story of how she became blind: She already had one eye damaged and one particular day, a gentleman was packing some sugar cane and one of the canes accidentally struck her in the good eye.
When she lost the eye, the Doctor promised her a glass eye and told her it was for aesthetic purposes. She however refused, insisting that it does not make sense to ‘look good and can’t see.’
She was then only in her late teens and noted that most of her friends left her after they realized that she was blind.
Asked if she had a boyfriend then, her quick retort was: ‘That is me business!’
She however, thanked some other significant persons who would have helped her throughout the years; some who have already passed away and especially Pastor Theophilus Kelly, who she pointed out, was her main Caretaker and who showed up every day to assist with anything she needed. She stated that she watched him grow up as a little boy and knew that he would make something good of himself.
Pastor Kelly also acknowledged the tremendous work of other persons such as the Caregiver from the Social Services department, Mrs. Esther Jeffers.
He also spoke to her great work in helping others, as a strong believer in God and says that he is working on her to be a little more forgiving. ‘Outside of that she is strong spiritually,’ he said.
In looking forward to her big day, Miss Smithen was cautiously optimistic. “I have seen people who were on the verge of a significant milestone and they aint reach it. Let me say ‘if the Lord will,’ then I will make it,” she said.
She however thanked God for his mercies and his goodness to her throughout the years and opined that without him (God), she would not have made it thus far.
She also noted that during her better years, even as a blind person, she helped to babysit children for certain families and stated that none of them ever had to take their children to the doctor after she would have looked after them during the day.
A big celebration is being planned for the anticipated big day tomorrow – Tuesday, June 20, which will commence with a thanksgiving service at the Zion Emmaus Chapel, starting at 10 am.
She would add to the distinguished list of centenarians coming out of Nevis, but more specifically, the list coming out of the Gingerland area.