Mrs. Mary Viola Brown, better known as Ms Vi, enjoyed not one but two celebrations for her milestone birthday, which was on Friday, 25 February.
The George Town resident marked her 100th trip around the sun with a three-hour drive-by outside her home on her special day. Family, friends and other well-wishers dropped by to congratulate her while taking in the live music by her relatives the musicians Paula and Burman Scott.
The mother of five was further celebrated with a birthday party, receiving a message from The Queen. Applied for by her loving family, the message now takes pride of place in the centenarian’s home.
The framed and signed birthday greetings from Her Majesty were delivered by His Excellency, the Governor Martyn Roper at George Town Yacht Club on Saturday, 26 February. Festivities included a special cake, food, decorations, a surprise guest appearance by Aunt Sookie and Zekiel - who did a skit in her honour - and music from the Swanky Kitchen Band. Premier, Hon. Wayne Panton attended, as did Ms Vi’s grandniece, Minister for Education, District Administration and Lands, Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who gave the closing prayer.
Surrounded by friends and family members, including many of her 13 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren, the former seamstress was in her element, according to granddaughter Raquel Parsons. Married to her husband the late Lester Brown for 58 years, Ms Vi took to being the centre of attention in her stride, with a hug and a word for everyone.
“Given that my grandmother is very lively, has a great sense of humour and used to love cooking and entertaining in her younger days, she really enjoyed the weekend’s events, Ms Parsons added.
“She’s a people person who says serving in her parents’ mercantile shop in the Brac during her teens made her sociable.
“She’s a living family tree who, when she is on form, likes nothing better than company who she’ll regale with old stories, discuss politics and explain who is related to whom,” daughter Mrs. Darlee Ebanks noted.
When asked to what she attributes her longevity, Ms Vi says to “eat sparingly, don’t drink and smoke, work hard and serve God.”
Originally from Watering Place, Cayman Brac, the centenarian was born in the same month that the British granted independence to Egypt, and the same year that the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered in the Valley of the Kings.
Just 10 years old when the Storm of ‘32 ravaged the Brac, Ms Vi vividly remembers the worst hurricane in Caymanian history. When asked how she was at her celebrations, the 100-year old and last surviving Mary and Eli Scott’s 12 children said: I’m old but I’m not cold.”
“Ms Vi represents a generation of Caymanians who were self-reliant and were very resilient in the face of real hardships. They were hardworking, god-fearing people who had a strong sense of identity and a love of kin,” said Minister for Youth, Sports, Culture & Heritage., Hon. Bernie Bush.
“As a matriarch, she represents all the qualities that we most admire in our culture. I wish her a very happy belated birthday,” he added.
When not celebrating landmark birthdays, the super senior likes nothing more than singing along to her Christian music channels, listening to the radio and watching Hallmark movies. Although a little arthritic, she also enjoys popping bubble wrap. “It’s her version of Candy Crush,” her granddaughter mused.
Though she spends more time at home in recent years, Ms Vi still attends church when able to. Ms Vi looks forward to spending more time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, including her three-month-old great-grandson Caleb.
To apply for birthday and anniversary cards sent on behalf of The Queen, visit https://www.royal.uk/anniversary-messages-0