GOLDSTON — It was Saturday, but Ida Mae Barrett was dressed up in her Sunday best — highlighted by a queen’s crown and a gold “Birthday Girl” sash, all done in honor of her 101st birthday.
Barrett, five generations of her family and several friends gathered at her home to celebrate, complete with remarks from family members, friends recounting special memories and the reading of a letter of recognition from N.C. House Rep. Robert Reives II.
Barrett has lived in Goldston for almost all of her life. She has remained an integral part of the community, and Barrett’s granddaughter Lynnette Jones organized the event with her family, wanting to recognize her grandmother’s milestone.
“We’re thankful she’s here with us and has been here with us for this long,” Jones said to the guests. “We’re so grateful for this, everybody that’s come out and showing my grandmother how much you love her.”
Family members present were recognized during the party. Jones said Saturday was the first time the entire Barrett family has been able to get together since the Covid-19 pandemic. “There’s a lot of family and friends here we haven’t seen in years,” she said. “So we just want everybody to just enjoy themselves.”
Barrett’s great-granddaughter Tori Barrett reminisced on her memories with the person she knows as “Granny.”
“It is truly a blessing to have Granny as my granny,” she said. “I remember just running around coming over to her house. She’s always been the sweetest, most kindest person … We love you so much. We appreciate you, all the blessings that you have brought to this family and all of your prayers. They have reached every single one of us.”
Barrett’s young great-great-granddaughter, Ari, recited a special poem she prepared for the party.
“A grandma always understands the things you say and do,” she said. “She overlooks all of your faults, and she’s the best at knowing you.”
The Rev. Dr. Carl Thompson, who’s known Barrett for years, was also there. He said “Mother Barrett” wasn’t just an important person in his church’s congregation, but someone the entire community looks up to.
“That crown on your head is very appropriate because she is a queen and has been a queen ever since we met her,” Thompson said. “She brings a light whenever she comes (to church). She’s such an inspiration, and even if she doesn’t say anything, her just being there is an inspiration in itself.”
Guest Joyce Spruill said Barrett and her grandmother were close, and when her grandmother would go to work, Barrett would watch over Spruill and her siblings.
“I remember walking down here, and we’d have a bag in our hands,” Spruill said. “It would have red-eye gravy and grits, and I remember that’s what we’d always bring when we were walking down here to stay with her.”
Amy Jones-Stedman said when she was a young girl, Barrett always treated her as if she was her own daughter. She attended the party “to show her how much I appreciate her and her kindness ... She’s still the same way now … She hasn’t changed a bit.”
Barrett told guests she was thankful for her 101 years. When asked what her secret was to living life to the fullest, she pointed to the sky, thanking God for her life.
“You better follow that Lord,” she said. “You better follow Him, He’s the one who doesn’t make a mistake.”
Barrett said she has “the best family in the world.”
“Lord have mercy, I love them all,” she said. “We need to get together more often.”
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at email@example.com.