By Lartrishka Thomas
“Deep beliefs, unshakeable faith and a strong will” were some of the qualities that made Antigua and Barbuda’s oldest resident, Ms Hyacinth Mottley of Briggins/All Saints Road, a gem.
Those sentiments were expressed by her son, Dr Marcus Mottley, the only child of the 107-year-old who died peacefully at around 8am yesterday.
Ms Mottley, who resided in Antigua and Barbuda for more than 80 years, celebrated her 107th birthday on May 13.
Dr Mottley told Observer that his “mother lived a full life in service to many people who sought her counsel, but more than anything else she was prayerful”.
“I grew up hearing her, every morning, saying the 91st Psalm which was at the core of her spiritual practice,” he reflected.
Dr Mottley, who resides in the United States of America, also recounted how much of a strong support his mother had been for him, and added that “in her long journey, while she embraced Antigua as her home, she never let go of her roots in Barbados which she had left over 80 years ago”.
The grieving son gave special thanks to “Dr Cleon Athill, Ms Cicely Gomes, Ms Deja Harrigan, Ms Sylmyrna Michael and Ms Althea Agyei for their loving support and help on the sad day”.
Dr Athill, who shares two sons with Dr Mottley, was one of the people who was with the centenarian when she departed this life.
She visited her regularly and assisted the elderly woman on a daily basis, and yesterday was no exception.
“This morning I came up to give her her coffee as usual,” Dr Athill recounted.
She said that Ms Mottley wanted to use the bathroom when she “kind of slithered down because she said she couldn’t feel her foot”.
Dr Athill said that she and the helper lifted her up and she was groomed before being put to rest on the bed.
But just after she had been turned onto her side “she just gasped and the helper said ‘let me check her pulse’ and when she checked, there was none,” Dr Athill shared.
She described the centenarian as a great storyteller, saying that “she used to tell us a lot of stories about Barbados, about when she came to Antigua first. She travelled a lot in her early days. She travelled to all the islands, so she had stories about all the islands”.
In fact, in her late 90s, Ms Mottley published a book called ‘Words of Wisdom, Words of Faith” which chronicled her life’s experiences and was “filled with words of wisdom and nuggets of faith that we can all use as a guide for difficult and challenging times”.
Dr Athill shared that some of the pearls of wisdom were “about praying a lot; you need to be thankful for the little bit that you have; you need to surround yourself with people that you love.
“She talked about being forgiving and she talked about launching out on your own; don’t wait for persons to give you things,” she stated.
Ms Mottley’s secrets to long life were, however, simple. According to Dr Athill, she was “eating very well … a lot of vegetables, a lot of fruits every day, drinking a lot of water, taking a lot of vitamins. She was a vitamin freak. She takes a lot, a lot of supplements and I think just having a good outlook on life did it for her.
“So even up until her death … she lived almost completely independently.”