Celebration for centenarian

SITTING unobtrusively among scores of people at Lautoka’s Parish Hall last week, Sarahphina Giblin (nee Rounds) seemed content to engage in small talk with her friends while enjoying a plate of succulent crab.

To the random observer, the picture would not have painted anything out of the ordinary but the occasion was no simple gathering.

It was Mrs Giblin’s 100th birthday and what better way to celebrate the life of the former Navua resident than to have a family gathering with her favourite meal — crabs, says her daughter, Sister Marlene Giblin.

“It’s mummy’s favourite food and we knew we had to have it for her special occasion,” the 71-year-old tells a team from this newspaper.

Born Sarahphina Rounds on Nagara Island in Namosi, Mrs Giblin remains the only surviving daughter of John Rounds and Rose Morrell.

Last week friends and family members gathered for a special church service at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church.

During the service, special congratulatory messages from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Head of the Catholic Church, His Holiness Pope Francis, were read out.

According to Sister Marlene, the occasion was a very special one for the family.

“We are seven siblings, four boys and three girls and the youngest boy passed away a few years ago,” she says.

“We are so happy that mummy’s 100 now and she’s not bedridden. She can bathe and feed herself and this is something we are extremely thankful for.

“It means a lot to us because according to the Bible, it is said that those who are blessed lead a long life and you’ll see your children live on and we just feel the same way. We’re so blessed to have her.”

A seamstress by trade, Mrs Giblin lived on Nagara until she was 18 before also finding a home in Navua.

She was married to late husband, Fred Giblin in 1941, who was in the electrical engineering field. He passed away when he was 69.

Sister Marlene says her mother was always a jovial person.

“When we were young, she was always so happy. Every new year, she was always the first one outside banging drums and even the children would join in.

“Mum sewed, she was a seamstress and she sewed all our clothes. She did crocheting and embroidery too and when the Queen came in the 1950s, she made us all dresses for the occasion.”

When Sister Marlene went to Sydney in the 1960s, she says her mother accompanied her as well.

“I said I needed a Bible and there were things I needed to be in the convent and she came up and she worked. She worked in a factory and stayed with her cousin Arthur Pickering and his daughter Agnes.

“Mummy was always the happy one in the group and that is why everyone loved her so much.”

Another daughter Joyce Giblin, 68, says her mother has been instrumental in imparting some of the most cherished skills on her children.

“Mum’s someone who has been very faithful to her religion and she has passed that on to all her children and she has ensured everyone has gone to practise the religion,” she says.

“She has taught us how to bake and sew and how religion helps. She always saw to it that we went to church and she knew how to control money and encouraged us to save.”

Guests also travelled from overseas for the historic occasion.

Mrs Giblin is the oldest living member of the Rounds family in Fiji.

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