Alva Roberts going strong at 100
Many persons are convinced that 100-year-old Alva Thirza Jones Roberts lost her correct birth certificate or her mother somehow got the year she was born mixed up.
Roberts reached the century on Monday, two days after family and friend gathered in Mandeville, Manchester, to celebrate the milestone.
"It is indeed a blessing that she would have graced us with 100 years, and it really is a blessing from the Lord that she still is strong and beautiful and healthy after 100 years," said her grand-niece, Antonette Cross.
"It really is a time of celebration, you're here because she has touched your life in one way or another," Cross added.
Surprised that a party was being held for her, and surprised by all the persons present, Roberts said: "me popular like chink pon new mat".
Born in Auchatembeddie, Manchester, Roberts was the sixth of eight children for Ellen and Stephen Jones.
She said that growing up she was taught to work hard and to be independent.
"When I left school, I started a little sewing and then I got married [to John Roberts ] and migrated. I was in the States for about 30 or 40 years working as a nurse's aide before deciding to come back home. ... It was easy for me to adjust when I came back home because I would visit every year when my mother was alive," she said.
Roberts mothered five children, four of whom are alive. She has 11 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
"I am lucky, honey. I mean, of the eight children my parents had, I am the only one alive. I give God thanks because nowadays you are not safe ... I try to keep up. I do every little thing iron, wash, cook, weed my garden and everything. Sometimes you feel aches and pains but you can't give in to it. I have to move around. I have to give God thanks. I am not putting in salt in the pot and thinking it is sugar," she said.
Sista Isha said she came to know Roberts through her daughter, Janette.
"I had gone there and I felt as though I wasn't welcomed. As long as I am by Miss Alva, me have to put on even two pounds. She cooks very well, especially her rice and peas. It up! She is such a sweet person and I never seen anybody at her age so vibrant, strong and full of encouragement. She loves everyone, she always sees the good in people," Sista Isha said.
Dr Dwight Robinson spoke highly about his grand-aunt's dry humour and her ability to make people comfortable.
"Her wit is just something else. I have gone to a lot of funerals and just at the time of getting sad, Aunt Alva just says something to make you laugh. I was at one funeral and I was getting ready to do the eulogy and I was there getting sad, and somebody went up to sing before I spoke, and Aunt Alva lean over to me and say, 'Is who tell her she can sing'. And that just broke the sadness for me and gave me the courage to go up and do what I had to do," Robinson said.
Bro Jones from the Mandeville Bible Chapel, where Roberts is a member, said getting to 100 is a monumental achievement.
"There are some old people in the Bible that did some remarkable things. I wonder what sister Alva has in store for us. When I grow up I want to be like our dear sister Alva," he remarked.
After a beautiful celebration, influenced by the Ethiopian and Rastafarian culture, Roberts left these words of wisdom.
"Take care of yourself and don't yield to temptation because it is out there a lot. Make up your minds and do the right thing," said the centenarian whose electric spark is bound to leave persons with whom she comes into contact feeling good about life and what it has to offer.