Joy of life keeps me young, says Carlotta
Joy and lots of laughter are part of the secret to a long life, according to Carlotta Wilkinson who reached her 100th Birthday yesterday.
Surrounded by friends and family, the Island's newest centenarian celebrated the milestone at St Paul's Church in Paget this weekend. She described it as being “quite a busy day”, complete with a large cake and special performances by Shine Hayward and singer Willard Burch.
Mrs Wilkinson said her health wasn't always perfect these days, but she thanked God she was still able to talk, spend time with her beloved family, friends and pets and have a good laugh.
She was born on September 16, 1913 to parents Alfred and Catherine Seaman. Growing up with three brothers and four other sisters in the Spanish Point area, they spent a lot of time fishing and swimming.
Mrs Wilkinson and two of her sisters married three brothers from the Wilkinson family.
She married her late husband, Irving Sr on October 10, 1934 — and had two children, Irving Wilkinson Jr, and Janet (married to Nelson Hunt).
The mother-of-two worked as a seamstress for nearly 60 years, after learning to sew while she was in her early teens. “A neighbour (Ora Dowling) moved into our street and she was a dressmaker,” Mrs Wilkinson explained. “She and her husband didn't have children, so she would always call on me to go on errands for her because I had a bicycle then.
“I was like her adopted child and would make everything, from my daughter's school uniform and Halloween costumes for my grandchildren growing up.”
But her pride and joy was always her garden. Thirty years ago she had gorgeous fruits trees and flowers like 'Sweet Peas', which produced a fragrant aroma when the air turned damp.
Mrs Wilkinson even made a few friends through her garden, after a couple of tourists from Canada stumbled upon her property and stopped by to introduce themselves. They became friends and she eventually got to stay with the couple while on a vacation to Canada years back.
Her grandson, Enwar Hunt, said her garden inspired others in the Dudley Hill, Paget area to grow their own plants and produce.
“A lot of people in the neighbourhood named their gardens after her because she was the first 'green thumb' in their life and taught them about gardening, like the children who grew up with my mom back in the day,” he said.
Mrs Wilkinson joked that the garden wasn't looking as sharp in her older years. “The garden looks like I do now, like it has seen better days,” she said, with a laugh.
Another secret to her longevity has been healthy eating, particularly green, leafy vegetables.
She said: “Some people these days say 'I don't like greens' and I tell them 'I have been eating them all my life and I am still here'. That and a glass of wine every night with my supper.”
Some of her favourite memories were when she and her late husband would go on day trips in their boat, 'Our Joy'.
“We did have a lot of joy. We had a lot of fun. Sometimes we would stay out in the boat for a weekend and my two kids were brought up on the water and still like the ocean.”
She still has some things on her 'to do' list and hopes to take another trip soon “because I don't know if I will have a next birthday or not”. If her health remains good, the family is planning a cruise to the Caribbean in December.
One of her favourite vacations was a trip to Blue Shark Gardens, near to Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. “It was beautiful and I just love cruising,” she said. “I wish I could have done it even when I was younger.”
Quizzed about what advice she would give to the younger generation, Mrs Wilkinson said it's important to have a sense of humour in life. “That's one of the best things because if you can't smile at a funny joke or something then you miss out. A good sense of humour means a lot.
“Also I would say, no matter what you do, put your love in it.”