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At 82, Shirley decides it’s time to take a rest from work

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Shirley Simons receives a kiss from her granddaughter Dawnea Simons on her retirement from Lindo’s Family Foods in Warwick (Photograph by Ras Mykkal)

At 82, Shirley Simons decided it was time to step away from work.

She had spent 29 years at Lindo’s Family Foods in Warwick. For the previous nine years she had worked for its predecessor, Giant Foods.

Before that, she was employed by the former Inverurie Hotel. She was recently divorced, with four young children, and worked two jobs to make ends meet.

For the past two weeks, however, she has woken up every morning, thrilled that she can linger in bed as long as she wants.

“It was great working at Lindo’s but after a while I thought, ‘I’m done’. The hardest part was getting up every morning. My sleep patterns changed and sometimes I just wanted to lay in bed and rest.

“[But] we had fun. There was lots of laughter.”

The grocer threw her a surprise party in the store’s warehouse, attended by staff and a few of her family members.

Shirley Simons with the flowers she was given during her retirement party at Lindo’s Family Foods (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

“There were so many people there,” Ms Simons said with a big smile. “And HR said I had to wear a silly hat all day.”

She still remembers her first day as a merchandiser at Giant Foods. It fell to her to make sure that products arrived on time and were correctly put on the store shelves and available to customers.

“There was another young girl there who was a merchandiser and she showed me the ropes,” Ms Simons said. “I had never worked in a grocery store before.”

Much of her work involved using a special gun to put a price on every single item.

“It was tedious but I got used to it,” she said. “Now, it is all computerised. That is great. It is much easier. Now, we can just take things and put them on the shelf.”

Ms Simons joined Inverurie Hotel as a chambermaid.

“I divorced when my four children, Belinda, Art, Dwayne and Andre, were all very young,” she said. “I worked two jobs to support my children. During the day I worked at the hotel, and then at 5pm I went to work for a security firm monitoring alarms. I did that until midnight.”

After a few years she enrolled in courses at the fledgeling Bermuda College to get a promotion.

“Then the hotel sent me on a two-week training course to Cornell University,” Ms Simons said. “I became the executive housekeeper.”

She stayed at Inverurie for 25 years. When work slowed down she joined Giant Foods. Eventually, she was able to leave her evening job.

“My children are appreciative today,” she said. “They remember those days. They were good kids. I did not have any problems bringing them up by myself. They knew that I laid down the law. They did not mess with me. They followed whatever I said to do.”

She grew up mostly on Cedar Hill in Warwick, the sixth of 11 children.

“We lived in my grandfather’s house,” she said. “In those days they did not make homes very big so it could be a little crowded.”

Having only one bathroom in the house was sometimes the cause of fights but she and her siblings mostly had a great time together.

“We played a lot of cards, marbles and hopscotch,” Ms Simons said. “I played a bit of cricket with my sisters. I was a better bowler than batter.”

She went to the Central School in Pembroke for a time and then to Purvis Primary, which was such a short distance from her house that she and her siblings were able to go home for lunch.

Ms Simons described herself as a “fair” student.

“I was good at English, but not so good at maths,” she said. “The principal in those days was Cora Scott-Gayle. She was very strict.”

Ms Simons admitted she sometimes got to school late, even though she just lived down the street.

“It seemed like if you were closer to home you were always late,” she said.

Her parents, Faith and Carlyle Eversley, were chefs and tried to teach her to cook.

“One day my mother told me to put the cabbage on for dinner,” Ms Simons said. “I must have been about 15 and had never done that before. I filled the pot up with water not knowing that cabbage makes its own water. You don’t need a lot.”

Her mother smacked her when she saw all the water in the pot.

“I don’t know what possessed me but I threw the pot across the room,” Ms Simons said. “Then I really got a whooping. My younger sisters laughed at me for days afterward over it.”

She always thinks of her mother when she cooks cabbage.

“I know a lot more ways to cook cabbage than my mother did,” she said. “My mother lived to be 100 and her sister died last week at 102.”

Shirley Simons receives a hug from her former Lindo’s Family Foods manager Chris Smith (Photograph supplied)

Her plan for retirement is to do some volunteer work although she is not sure where yet.

She also wants to travel and plans to attend a family wedding in the United States in the summer.

“I love reading, and going to church,” Ms Simons said. “I attend New Creation Worship Centre at the old Berkeley School. Sometimes I also visit Rehoboth Church of God because my son and daughter go there.”

Her real love is spending time with her family, including her 12 grandchildren.

“I also have eight or nine great grandchildren,” she said. “They are coming so fast I have lost count.”

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

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Published May 17, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated May 16, 2023 at 4:28 pm)

At 82, Shirley decides it’s time to take a rest from work

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