VIOLET PINNOCK-Reynolds has been a mother figure and guiding light not only to her own children, but to many individuals within her community of Arthurs Seat, Clarendon.
The elder, who celebrates her 100th birthday today, was born in 1923 and has mothered 11 children – six boys and five girls, and has been blessed with 46 grandchildren, 90 great-grandchildren and 35 great-great grandchildren.
One of her girl children died in 2021.
Throughout her lifetime she married twice, once in 1943 and later in 1989.
Her fourth child, Aldertha Angus, told The Gleaner that her mother has always been a kindhearted woman – a quality which has been passed down through the generations as family members witnessed the magnitude of her willing spirit.
“Ladies would come to her for weddings or rallies with hats to our home and she would do their hair and style it with the hats. So they would bathe, put on everything except the dress and come for mama to fix their hair,” she added.
Sharing similar sentiments of her caring personality was her granddaughter, Megan Hylton, who told The Gleaner that during her final year of university when she faced financial challenges and feared not being able to complete school, Pinnock-Reynolds had given her the exact amount of the money to settle the balance owed.
“That to me was really big. I mean grandma has so many grandchildren and to know that she was willing to make such a significant effort, because it wasn’t a small amount of money, but to make that significant effort or sacrifice to help me really meant a lot,” she said.
ACT OF KINDNESS
This act of kindness, she said, gave her the push to finish academically well where she left university with an honours degree.
Angus said that growing up with her mother, though she was very strict at times and would not shy away from disciplining her children when they were wrong, she was also very compassionate and ensured to show her kids love and affection.
Margaret Thomas, Pinnock-Reynolds’ grandmother, was the first person in the family to live beyond 100 years old. She passed away at the age of 105. This is a milestone that family members look forward to her surpassing as well.
Despite showing signs of cognitive impairment, having high blood pressure, and kidney problems, Angus explained that her mother is a very active individual.
She recalled that if there is one thing she would never forget, it is her ability to sing gospel hymns in her powerful alto voice range that could be heard throughout the entire house.
“She is still in her prime,” Angus said, as when Pinnock-Reynolds was better able to travel to church, she sang on her church choir at Paradise Baptist Church.
“Sometime when you go to a function here, I could sit and know that is mama singing the alto, I could always pick out her voice and sometimes she was the only one singing alto. She had a strong voice and she still sings,” Angus explained.
Pinnock-Reynolds would also bake wedding cakes for fellow residents and was a member of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs.
“She would always give you the last bit of what she has. She was very, very kind,” Angus said.
She recalled a time when her mother was visiting Jamaica after living for a time in the United Kingdom (UK), and had given away all which she had brought for others. Just then, a lady stopped her when she didn’t have anything left and instead of leaving her empty-handed, she took off the sweater she wore and gave the woman “her last”.
Today, those family members who have travelled to Jamaica from the UK, along with others living in Jamaica, will gather at Pinnock-Reynolds’ home in celebration of her years on earth. Joining them will be her church brethren who will conduct devotion with her and later, she will be fêted.
Hylton further expressed that Pinnock-Reynolds had a great sense of humour and that “one of her greatest joys was seeing a vehicle drive up to her gate and realising that it’s one of her children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren that have come to visit and she just have this joy on her face,” she said.
“One of my favourite memories with her is driving around in her orange car...and just being around her [because] she would just always have some lesson to teach you or have something of value to say,” she said.
Shevanese Anderson, another granddaughter who lives overseas, said she was one of the first persons within the community to drive a car, which quickly turned into an ambulance as she helped people in need.
“As a youngster, everywhere we went...everybody [would] tell us the stories of how ‘Aunt Vi’ would help them. Even schoolchildren, our classmates who would be going to school with no lunch money, ‘Aunt Vi’ would ensure that they had lunch money for the week without asking for a penny,” she said.
Granddaughter Sharon Pinnock recalled her grandmother as a family-oriented person who was also very hardworking.
Pinnock and Hylton both expressed that it is such an honour and tremendous blessing to witness their grandma turning 100.
Pinnock also expressed that Pinnock-Reynolds ensured to teach her grandkids to always love and “stand by each other always”.
“The message that I learned from grandma is to embrace life [as it] will come with its challenges and victories but to make the best of every day that you get. Grandma wakes up with a smile on her face every morning, even if she doesn’t know what the moment will bring,” Hylton said, noting that even at this stage in life this was still something she practised.
“I wish I could reach 100 myself, fully able-bodied with just minor ailments, just strong and healthy just like her. It’s a great achievement,” Anderson said.