Daisy Christian, who at the age of 107 was the oldest person in the Cayman Islands, will be buried on Cayman Brac Saturday.
Ms Christian, known affectionately as Aunt Daisy, died on Friday, 27 April, at Faith Hospital where she was admitted two days before her death.
Daisy Blanche Christian was born on 10 March, 1904, the second girl in a family of six children born to Robert and Adena McLaughlin. After her mother died, her father remarried and another six children were born. Aunt Daisy was the last of her immediate siblings, but a half brother and half sister are still living in the United States.
Those who attend Ms Christian’s service and funeral on Saturday are requested to wear bright colours, as per her wishes.
“That was her request,” said Ms Christian’s grandniece Jewel Smalldon, who looked after her for many years. “She didn’t like black. She always used to say ‘please, don’t wear no black at my funeral’. She liked pinks and blues and colours like that,”
“I remember when her sister died, I bought her a black dress and she nearly had a fit. She wore it but she was not pleased. She told me ‘don’t do that to me again’,” she added.
Ms Christian married twice, first to Claude Scott for eight years. After he passed away, she later married Morris Christian, who died in 1983. She had no children of her own, but was considered a second mother by the many children she helped to raise.
Her niece Frances Clyne, who is supervisor of the Kirkconnell Community Care Centre where Ms Christian lived for the last nine years, said: “She never had children but I think she raised half the kids in Spot Bay.”
Ms Smalldon, who was among the children Ms Christian took care of, recalled that many of the children Ms Christian raised continued to call her “Day Day” throughout her life.
She said her great aunt would be remembered mostly for her extraordinary kindness. “She never turned anybody away. If you went to her place, she’d always give you a little something... some cake or a drink of sorrel or lemonade. She would always share. She was very kindhearted and humble.”
Ms Smalldon said her great aunt credited her long life to a diet heavily laden with fish, the use of coconut oil in cooking and good Christian living. She never smoked tobacco or drank alcohol. “She liked fish tea and Milo and she always loved seafood. One thing she never ate was turtle meat... It was fish, fish, fish, seven days a week. And people say coconut oil causes cholesterol, but Aunt Daisy used it all the time, on her bread, in her cooking... she never had anything but coconut oil,” said Ms Smalldon.
George Walton, Ms Christian’s nephew, who owns Walton’s Mango Manor on the Brac, said the words that will always remind him of his aunt is “Easy does it”. “She was never a person who got flustered by anything. She was very even and balanced in her approach to life. She was so easy going and caring and loving... She was a very peaceful person to be around,” he said.
“I used to like going to her place, she always had a pot on the fire... She’d cook three times more than she’d need, and she’d have fritters and fried fish and coco... She’d say “sonny boy, go in and eat as much as you want,” Mr. Walton recalled.
One of the enduring memories of her family was Ms Christian’s habit of falling asleep “literally standing up”.
“She must have had a medical condition that caused it. She could fall asleep mid-sentence and when she’d wake up, she’d continue the conversation an hour and a half later as though nothing had happened,” said Ms Clyne.
As a child, Ms Clyne remembered, one of her tasks was to inform her aunt Doris when Aunt Daisy woke up from one of her sudden sleeps.
Longevity seems to run in the family. Ms Smalldon, who is 83, said she had several relatives who lived to 100 and older, including another aunt and a great grandmother who lived to 100 and another family member who reached 104.
Ms Christian had suffered a broken leg last week and, after she left the hospital for treatment for the break, was readmitted the following day as she had developed a persistent cough, said Ms Smalldon, who was with her aunt at the hospital when she passed away.
Ms Christian loved to sing and read her bible, her family said, and she could be heard singing hymns to herself all the time, with Abide By Me, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder and Jesus Love Me This I Know, being among her favourites.
The funeral service and internment will be held at 3pm at Bethal Baptist Church and cemetery in Spot Bay on Saturday, 5 May. The family has requested family flowers only with donations in lieu to the Kirkconnell Community Care Centre.