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Saluting a centenarian jewel, Christalia Gibbs-Hodge

Centenarian Christalia Gibbs-Hodge. Photo: Provided
A devout Christian, centenarian Mrs Christalia Gibbs-Hodge is still thankful for life despite losing a leg in 2016. Photo: Provided
A devout Christian, centenarian Mrs Christalia Gibbs-Hodge is still thankful for life despite losing a leg in 2016. Photo: Provided
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- The month of May is designated as Senior Citizens' Month, and the theme this year is Age Out Loud, which is intended to give aging a new voice- one that reflects what today’s older adults have to say about aging.

The 2017 theme, according to the Social Development Department, gives an opportunity to shine a light on many important issues and trends.

“More than ever before, older persons are working longer, trying new things, and engaging in their communities. They're taking charge, striving for wellness, focusing on independence, and advocating for themselves and others. They expect to continue to live their lives to the fullest, and they're insisting on changes that make that possible. What is means to age has changed, and Senior Citizens' Month 2017 is a perfect opportunity to recognise and celebrate what aging older looks like.”

In recognition of Senior Citizens, Month, Virgin Islands News Online has partnered with the Social Development Department to feature some of our senior citizens. This week we feature centenarian Christalia Gibbs-Hodge

Christalia Gibbs- Hodge

It is not an easily acquired milestone to reach the golden age of 100, where you are afforded the opportunity to accomplish so much, be able to witness several generations, and still be a pillar of strength, with no signs of going anywhere, anytime soon.

Mrs Christalia Gibbs- Hodge is one of the proud centenarian jewels of the Virgin Islands (UK). She first saw the world on Sunday, January 7, 1917, at Brewers Bay, Tortola.

Christalia is the fifth child of her parents, the late Albertha Todman-Blyden and James Gibbs of Anderson. She grew up in a loving, caring and sharing household and, like her other siblings, was baptised in the Road Town Methodist Church.

Life back then

Growing up in those days, meant, their feet were their carriage back and forth to church, school and market almost every day on what has been described as narrow, rocky tracks, barefooted. Shoes were carried in slings around their shoulders or in their hands, only putting them on when they are close to the capital, and removing it on the way back.

Feet colliding with rocks causing abrasions were commonplace and so were washing by hand in New Bush Ghut, carrying water, sourcing firewood for cooking in a fireplace, and baking in a brick oven. Trading of fish and meat for ground provisions was also a normal everyday occurrence between households.

As a child, Christalia delighted in cooking, baking delicacies including cassava bread and sewing.

One of their well-liked social gatherings back then, and it is still being done today, was market days. Many looked forward to it, including Mrs Gibbs-Hodge, who would anticipate meeting up with her friends Ms Audrina Lloyd, Bereniece Smith, Nidia Frett, among others.

Marriage & life beyond

In the year 1954, Christalia tied the knot with the late Elwin Hodge of Huntums Ghut, where she now lives.

The marriage produced several children-  Marvin (deceased), Sezliee, Ishmael, Ishma, Allen and Cleo. She has several grand and great grandchildren.

Hobbies/Interests

In 1943 Christalia became a member of the Road Town Methodist Church and served as a class leader for years, as well as in the kitchen assisting with meal preparations.

In 1956 she joined the Road Town Women’s League and looked forward to attending meetings on Wednesdays in rain or shine, and was honoured by the League for her faithful service.

She is a member of the Road Town Senior Citizen’s Group and has cruised most of the British, Dutch and French Caribbean Islands and the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida.

Life was not always easy for this centenarian jewel, as late in life she had to lose a leg following a pain she felt in one, on June of 2016 at the age of 99.

A devout Christian, Mrs Hodge is still thankful for life.

“I never thought I would live to be that age, but God kept me here for a reason, and I will continue praising him until life shall last.”

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