Rena Risden feeling wonderful at 100

July 26, 2022
Risden (right) and her goddaughter Verita Brown enjoying a moment.
Risden (right) and her goddaughter Verita Brown enjoying a moment.
Clarendon centenarian Rena Risden is elated to have reached 100.
Clarendon centenarian Rena Risden is elated to have reached 100.

There is only one word that New Longville, Clarendon resident Rena Risden uses to describe celebrating her 100th birthday -- "wonderful".

Risden, whose birthday was on April 22, said she is thankful that God allowed her to celebrate the milestone. When asked, 'What's next?' To this she said, "I couldn't tell you ... I want to live as long as the Lord wants me to live."

With no biological children, Risden has 'adopted' children of her relatives and nurtured them over the years. Verita Brown, her god-daughter, who has been in her care since she was five years old, said Risden, who originally hails from Crooked River in the parish, has made an impact on many in the community through her kindness.

"She is a very disciplined person. She loves church; whatever church event, she will be there, and she is very, very kind. I can remember, growing up, once she knows the neighbour has a baby, she takes food," she recalled. If someone in the community is sick or a shut-in, Brown said her godmother would be the first to visit.

"She would go around to the infirmary in May Pen. Anybody she knows over by the infirmary, she visits," Brown shared.

A dressmaker by profession, Risden sewed for the residents, delivering their garments whether they had the money to pay or not. While Risden may struggle to recapture some memories, she had no trouble remembering her precious church hymns, one of which she sang sweetly for the news team.

" Blessed Assurance, this is my story..." she sang, a contented look on her face.

Brown, in reflecting on her godmother's influence on her, said that she taught her one valuable lesson and that is, 'you live not for self but for others'.

Risden, who lost her husband Sydney some years ago, according to Brown, has been an active church worker and could conduct an entire church service.

"There are times when she would do the preaching, times when she acts as the treasurer. Communion service, she would play an active part. Whatever church activity taking place, she would be a part of it," Brown informed.

Brown shared one of her fond memories about her godmother. It was her birthday and a young Brown thought she was in trouble because of her godmother's tone of voice.

"She knows that I am afraid of beating, so she called me from outside in a stern voice. So I was sorta coming and going, she say, 'Come to mi, I call you.' She was at the machine sewing, so when I go to her, she said, 'Here, this is a dress for your birthday,'" Brown said, bursting into laughter .

Risden, who is the only child for her mother, has two other siblings, a 90-year-old brother, who is in a nursing home in May Pen, and a sister, who lives abroad.

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