Do you want to know the secret to living a long life?
Just sit down and have a talk with Mr. Forde.
Mr. Edrick Osman Forde known as "Daddy' to all of his family and friends was born on September 11, 1907, in Barbados, W.I. If you do the arithmetic you will discover that he just recently celebrated his 105th birthday.
As a matter of fact when he heard that I wanted to come to visit him he told my mother to make sure that I called him first to make sure that he would be home! Well, we called just like he advised us and fortunately he was at home and able to see us.
As we entered his apartment we were greeted by his health care aide, Crystal, who directed us to the living room where Daddy was sitting in a chair with his legs up on an ottoman. He smiled and held out his arms to greet us. We exchanged hugs and kisses and then my mother and I settled into seats with Daddy in the middle of us.
I have taken several history classes in my life -- American History, European History, African-American History. All of these courses came with a textbook and a syllabus and usually were worth 3 credits. None of those courses can compare to hearing history from someone who has actually lived it. After being in the presence of Daddy for a few moments you realize that "his story" is one of honest hard work, everlasting love and praising God.
"Daddy" is one of five brothers who was raised by his mother (his father died when he was two years old). His mother Cecilia was a seamstress and Daddy grew up to become a baker. Daddy spoke about his childhood telling us of how his mother would go to draw water from the pond so that he and his brothers could bathe. He also told us of the times that his mother would lash him with a tamarind rod when he misbehaved. "Mother would tell me the number of lashes that I would receive. Sometimes 6 or 8. Sometimes she would only lash me 2 times and then have me wait the rest of the day for the other 6 lashes. Those were some very long days."
Daddy married the love of his life, Leotta, in 1933. He was 26 and she was 29. Together they raised two daughters, Claudine and Grace. Daddy told us the story of how he use to go to work at nights as a baker making 21 shillings a week (approximately $5.00) but after Claudine was born he realized that he needed to spend nights with his family. So he continued to bake for a while, selling bread at home and then he took a day job as second cook at an infirmary.
It was at this time while he was a cook that he said his wife gave him some very important advice. She told him that he was getting paid to cook and that he should not bring any food home for his family or his friends. Daddy took her advice and never brought anything home. As he said in his own words "I never even took one rice grain. I would wash my hands at the end of the day and go home with a clean conscience."
In 1973, at the age of 67 Daddy and Leotta immigrated to the United States to be near their children. Daddy and Leotta spent 51 years together until Leotta died in 1984. Daddy still speaks of his late wife with much love and admiration. He said that he and his wife always sat down and made time to talk to each other. You could tell by the way that he spoke of her that she was the love of his life.
Daddy, a Seventh Day Adventist who still goes church every Saturday, now spends his days attending a senior day care center four to five times a week. His one bedroom apartment is surrounded by pictures, a piano with a hymn book opened ready to be played and a delightful clock that plays bells every fifteen minutes. When asked what is the secret to living a long life he said "don't overeat, don't overwork yourself, be content, everything in moderation."
When asked how he would like to spend his 106th birthday Daddy told us that he would like to spend his birthday in Barbados. Mom and I told him that we would love to join him.
As we came to the end of our history lesson Daddy gave us one additional secret of living a long life - "Give God the Praise!"