By Dennis M. Grant,
“Amazing” … “a blessing” …”truly a day of praise and thanksgiving!”
These were the words and sentiments of family and friends who gathered Sunday, May 29, to celebrate the 110th birthday of Mrs. Eula Viola Polk, affectionately known as “Aunt V.”
While her actual birthday was Tuesday, May 24, plans to celebrate the previous weekend were postponed due to inclement weather. However, because God was in control of the entire event, the timing was just right as it gave others from near and far more time to join the festivities.
Relatives came from Alabama, Florida and South Carolina to celebrate the birthday occasion with other family and friends living in Mississippi.
Mrs. Polk’s nephew, Vernon Brown, was one of them. He stated Aunt Eula was one of nine girls born to Richard Lee Brown and Frankie Mae Owens Brown. He said lessons he learned from Aunt Eula were “Keep God first, never forget where you came from and treat people right, because if you treat people right you will gain a lot of respect.”
Decked out in a pretty peach-colored top, gray slacks, and her signature white tam, Mrs. Polk was all smiles as her great nephew, T. C. Holly, chauffeured her to the roadside where a drive-by parade would soon begin.
As the parade started the Corvette Club of Jackson led the way with about 30 cars honking horns and flashing their lights as onlookers waved with enthusiasm. Aunt Eula periodically was waving as well.
In addition to family and friends, State Representative Gregory Holloway also participated in the parade, as did Hinds County Sheriff Tyree Jones. Sheriff Jones stated that it was a privilege to be able to celebrate someone who had been blessed to reach the age of 110 and there was no way he was going to miss it.
The sheriff even joined Aunt Eula on her cart. He told her, “It’s a blessing to be with you. 110 years is definitely a blessing.” The sheriff thanked her for all the contributions she has made to her community and to the surrounding area. In a soft voice Polk whispered, “Thank you for being here.”
The sheriff allowed deputies from his department to serve as escorts and to ensure safety along the parade route.
Another parade participant, Sam Cline, the great, great nephew of Aunt V, sported a tall birthday cake on the top of his vehicle.
Across the street from Mrs. Polk’s home, longtime neighbor and friend Joseph Kendrick celebrated the occasion by providing several large “junk pots,” a combination of various cooked meats, other food items and cold drinks for everyone in attendance to enjoy.
Of course Aunt V’s birthday would not be complete without two of her favorites, chicken wings and a special birthday cake baked by her great nephew Kenneth Funchess.
When asked by Jackie Hampton, publisher of The Mississippi Link newspaper, what was her age, she proudly answered “110.” When asked her secret to longevity she responded, “A good life, eating right and hard work.” Her message to young people was don’t try to beat anyone out of nothing.
When asked about her great nephew, T.C., who was driving her cart she pointed to him and said, “That’s a good man.”
The Mississippi Link asked Mae Grant, niece of Eula Pole, what she most admired by her great-aunt. She responded, “What I most admire about Aunt V is her resilience to navigate the challenges that comes with longevity; death of family and friends as well as her fragile health.”
Last year the family celebrated her 109th birthday with a party as well.
Grant said, “One thing I can share about Aunt V since a year ago is how her faith in God has been unwavering. She frequently testifies of His goodness as she prays and sings hymns of peace.”
We are not sure where Mrs. Polk ranks on the list as being one of the oldest, if not the oldest person in the state, nation or world, but one thing is for sure, she ranks number one among family and friends who love her dearly and respect her to the highest.
She is the epitome of a faithful Christian woman who still gets ready each Sunday to participate in worship either virtually or in-person at Little Bethel CME Church in Terry, MS. This, no doubt, is the key to her longevity, her faith in God and her love of family.
Contributing writer Dennis M. Grant, through marriage, is the great-nephew of 110 year-old Eula Viola Brown-Polk.