103-y-o not afraid of coronavirus
Lucile Brown Ashman celebrated her 103rd birthday last Saturday at her home in Cross Roads, Kingston.
Ashman, who was born in 1917, in Kilmarnock, St Elizabeth,was the 'wash belly' for her parents, John and Ellen Brown, who had six other girls and two boys.
After John had a long life of farming and horse trading in neighbouring New Market, Ashman and her siblings relocated to Kingston and brought their parents with them in the 1930s.
There she has remained and is now the sole survivor of her immediate family.
"We never argued or fought. We were raised in a Christian home," Ashman told THE STAR. "As child, I loved school and loved going to church. With my brothers and sisters, it was loving. I loved them and even now I still love them." Born before the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, Ashman has now lived to see another pandemic more than a century later with COVID-19.
But the very independent centenarian has no fear of the novel coronavirus.
Hinder extended family
"God is keeping me. I talk with him before I leave my house to do my weekly shopping at the supermarket and Cross Roads market. I believe that he will carry me safely to and from my house," she said. COVID-19 did hinder extended family from physically gathering to celebrate her birthday. However, they surprised her with a virtual birthday celebration/online family reunion, tuning in from the US, England and Jamaica. Owen Chambers, her 92-year-old nephew who lives abroad, was excited that he had the chance to see his aunt once again.
"I am thankful that my aunt is still able to take care of herself, do her own cooking and shop at the market. She loves shopping at the market!" he said. 'Old age' is not an obstacle to Ashman. She loves to experiment in the kitchen, and she cooks a meal daily. Earlier, in the pandemic, her family struggled to keep her indoors, as she has an insatiable desire to go to the supermarket and buy groceries.
When THE STAR contacted Ashman, she was busy making sorrel. Her grandniece Sandra Chambers joked that "sorrel is for Christmas time", to which Ashman replied, "me a go do what I want to do." As a young woman, she married Ernest Ashman who was a soldier. They remained married for more than 50 years and raised one daughter.
Ashman has been an active member at the Bethany Fellowship on Hagley Park Road for more than 70 years, where she sings on the choir.
Brian Silvera, chairman of the elders at Bethany Fellowship, says Ashman, or 'Little Ashman' as she is affectionately called, is the oldest member.
"She got saved in August 1948 and was later baptised in April of 1949, and was subsequently admitted to fellowship on April 18, 1949. Mrs Ashman faithfully attends our church services and in particular has never missed a communion service unless she could not help it. We wish Mrs Ashman God's continued blessings and many more years to come," he said.