Jamaica Patois Wisdom – The Elderly

by Jefferson David Tant

The Jamaican Patois dialect is colorful, unique, and humorous. It is my desire to share some of the philosophy shown in this mix of colorful phrases that are witty as well as thought-provoking. I hope the readers both profit and enjoy. In my quarter-century plus of teaching there, I have come to appreciate some things about their culture.

Patois: Mi ole but mi nuh cowl

English: I am old, but I am not cold

Meaning: Being elderly does not rob one of his or her pleasures.

From what I have seen in the Scriptures, I have not found passages explaining our spiritual retirement or pension benefits when we get older while still living this side of eternity. I have seen too many who seem content to sit idly by and twiddle their thumbs while they “enjoy” their retirement. Oh, they are faithful in attending the assembly, but that is the extent of their involvement. I recognize that some have physical conditions that certainly restrict them, but there are others who have strength and ability that can be put to good use in the kingdom.

As newlyweds, my wife and I worked in a little village among the Choctaw Indians in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma. Among the members of the small congregation were Pappy and Mammy Osbourn. Hospitality was a part of their service. Though in her 80s, Mammy prepared dinner every Sunday and invited someone to come. Pappy took it upon himself to be sure all the songbooks were in the racks after the services, and always made sure that visitors were welcomed. One Sunday when someone forgot to pick them up, Harry Pickup, Jr. was on his way to preach that Sunday and found them out on the road hitch-hiking.

Don Sadler was one of our faithful members at Roswell, and even though he suffered from Parkinson’s disease, he was always present and had some laminated cards made up with some encouraging Bible passages on them.  His widow, Jo, is still with us and often has an encouraging word, and regularly sets aside some funds to share with those who are in need.

Margaret Head is our resident angel, and for years has helped in caring for the sick both at Roswell and back in Wichita, Kansas, where she formerly lived. She helped care for my parents in their last days on this earth, even though she was advanced in years herself.

Terry Cocson was a man we knew in the Philippines. He was crippled, and could only take 6-inch steps. I learned he had walked 4 hours to attend our preaching service. There was not a lot he could do, but his effort surely was an encouragement to many.

I knew of an older woman in Zimbabwe who had one leg amputated, but that did not seem to slow her down too much. She walked on crutches 12 miles to come to hear the gospel. What an example!

What can older folks do? They can use the telephone to call those who need encouragement. They can also write letters of encouragement. They can certainly pray for others. “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16) They may take some younger person “under their wings” who could use some older wisdom. If they are able, they can visit the sick and shut-ins.

Abraham was 75 years old when he left Haran for Canaan. Moses was 80 years old when he led Israel out of Egypt. “The prophetess, Anna was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fasting and prayers” (Luke 2:36)  Truly, there is pleasure in serving and God values the aged. “A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31).

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