SHE kneads and plaits her dough. She prepares the mixture for other baked goodies. She keeps abreast with current affairs, both local and international, including the recently concluded George Floyd murder trial. She does crotchet. She reads the weekly newspaper. She also puts aside time for a game of checkers with a friend.
She is Maud Olga Williams, fondly referred to as ‘Cousin Maud’, ‘Miss Williams’, or ‘Neighbour Williams’. She is the oldest resident of Lot 49 Stanleytown, a place she has called home for almost 70 years. Recognizing that her overseas-based children would be unable come to Guyana to celebrate the milestone because of travel restrictions, a few neighbours decided to celebrate her birthday in a simple, yet significant way. A helium balloon arch with an inflated 101 sign was placed at her entrance. The group of women sang spiritual hymns and songs as she walked onto the patio, where she greeted the well-wishers and expressed gratitude for the gesture.
Later in the day, Reverend Tyrone Sulker and team paid her a visit during which a thanksgiving service was held.
During an interview last year, she had expressed belief that in order for persons to adequately maintain their respective families, their income must be supplemented. She had managed to supplement her husband’s income by crocheting, sewing, and cultivating a kitchen garden.
Although she is not attending to her kitchen garden now, ‘Cousin Maud’ would view her fruit plants from her windows, and can tell when there is a need for special care.
The centenarian was born to Antonita Lyken and Samuel Ellis on May 8, 1920 at the New Amsterdam Hospital, then located at Charles Place and Main Street.
Her early years were spent at Lot 43 Stanleytown, with her mother, siblings and relatives. During that period, she attended the All Saints Anglican School.
Following her school years, ‘Cousin Maud’, was sent to learn the art of sewing and crotchet. Despite her age, she still does crotchet.
Along with crotchet, she keeps abreast with the current affairs by reading the daily newspapers and viewing various telecasts. A game or two of checkers with her neighbour, Shirley Adams and her former caregiver, Yvonne Lambert, is always on her agenda.
The lone Stanleytown centenarian was married to the late Eugene Williams, who, in order to provide for a growing family, was employed as a carpenter, farmer and a security guard. Together, they raised seven children, inclusive of three girls. In order to supplement her husband’s income, she reared livestock and planted a kitchen garden at her Lot 49 Stanleytown home. Although her life was consumed with finding innovative ways to enhance the quality of life for her offsprings, she was keen about what was happening outside her home. It was that eagerness to know that resulted in her reflecting on the American aviator, Art Williams.
“It was in the 1930s he flew his plane over New Amsterdam. It was a sight for all to see, as he was doing aerial stunts which captured the breath of the viewers,” she recalled with a twinkle in her eyes. Art Williams was an American pilot who came to the then British Guiana, in the early 1930s and became a pioneer of the country’s aviation sector. In the meanwhile, ‘Cousin Maud’ is concerned about youths who are not academically inclined, and who are seemingly wasting their life away.
“There is something they can do… they can learn a trade. It is always good to earn an honest living…,” she said.
Along with her surviving children Winston, Barbara, Brenda and Wynette, she has fifteen grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren.