At 102 she says when she is not feeling good, she asks God to help her. At 100 Ms. Smith’s only wish was to be young again.
Every morning for the past six years, Ms. Clara has tucked into a cup of milo and a ripe banana at 8 a.m. Later on, she has scrambled eggs with mashed potatoes or crushed breadfruit with bean gravy. She also likes cream of wheat porridge, oatmeal, ravioli and ripe mangoes.
“Her appetite is very good – for being 102 she’s not that bad off, it’s as good as I can expect,” said her son, Hevard Smith.
Mr. Smith takes care of his mother with the help of a caretaker.
“I like to see and talk to good people, it makes me feel good and special,” she said.
Unable to move around like she used to, Ms. Clara spends most of her time in bed resting, but looks forward to having visitors by her bedside.
On a recent morning, a visitor finds her quietly repeating the Lord’s prayer with her eyes closed, but as someone else approaches she opens her eyes.
“How are you today, Ms. Smith?” says daughter-in-law Linda Smith.
But Ms. Clara is not up to talking today and closes her eyes again.
“She talks when she feels like it. She’s in her good sense and can ask for some things she wants,” said Mr. Smith.
On the morning of Ms. Clara’s birthday, Mr. Smith said he went in to wish her good morning and ask how she was doing. Ms. Clara told him she was OK.
On her birthday the family shared a cake. But not just any cake. Ms. Clara only likes cream of wheat cakes, which her niece Miriam Anglin bakes for her on every birthday.
Ms. Clara is on no medication, only a little something the doctor gives her to help with appetite. Otherwise she eats well and drinks plenty of water, said her son.
“She has no Alzheimer’s, diabetes, high blood pressure and feels very little pain. Sometimes her memory does drift a little, but it comes right back,” he added.
Ms. Clara grew up in the Town Hall Crescent area of West Bay with parents Clara and William Bush. Raising seven children on her own with a husband at sea, Ms. Clara did what she had to do to make a living for the family. Like most Caymanian women in bygone days, as a young woman she made a living from collecting silver thatch to twist into rope and weave baskets.
She often made the journey all the way to Newlands to cut tops, bringing them home to West Bay to make land baskets, which were used by Caymanians to carry goods.
Ms. Clara was a very active woman up until she was 80. She worked three jobs – Cayman Arms, Silver Sands and Royal Palms, and still came home to do chores.
Reminiscing about her working in Silver Sands condos, her family recalled she was happy to go every day.
“As long as they would have kept her on, Ms. Clara would have worked, that is how much she loved to work,” said Mr. Smith.
Her words to her son throughout the years have been: “I will live to see 100 and outlive all my children.”
“That may happen too, because she is not suffering from any major ailments,” said Mr. Smith.