I have the best neighbors anyone could ask for. Originally from Jamaica, they have been living in the house next door since the 1970's. When we moved in over three years ago, they warmly welcomed us and we have since become good friends. Mrs. Chambers is a highly knowledgeable gardener and often insists on sharing her vegetables over our backyard chain link fence. Mr. Chambers drives her to appointments, errands, and church, and can also be found working in the garden with his machete. When we first found out his age, we were shocked that this man so full of vitality could be nearly a century old.
On August 5, we had the pleasure of celebrating Mr. Chambers 100th Birthday along with their closest relatives and church family. I'm so glad I brought my camera, because everyone wanted a photograph!
After hearing others speak about him throughout the evening, Mr. Chambers stood before us (upright and relaxed, with no cane) and recounted experiences from over seventy years ago. He will tell you about his time in the British military in Jamaica, and he remembers how long he spent in various roles, citing the years he re-enlisted. He has explained to me before, that with few job prospects in Jamaica at the time, many men had no choice but to enlist in the army and re-enlist again when each term came up. Once in service, they were forced to perform any duty as commanded by the British officers. Mr. Chambers was chosen to drive one of the top-most officials, as he tells it, a man so horrible that his family couldn't live with him, so they moved back to England. He has told me that at times this man's behavior was so cruel it didn't seem human.
And yet, somehow after living for a century in this crazy world that can be so cold and unjust, he still has a radiating smile and laughs with easy delight. I've asked Mrs. Chambers, "What is his secret? Is it the ginger mint tea you make for him every morning?" She will admit that she takes care of him exceptionally well. But she says, they try not to worry too much, there's no sense in worrying about things you can't control.
The Chambers definitely embody the attitude of the sign in their front window: Smile, God Loves You. I am so thankful to know them.