Residents of New Hope in Westmoreland describe her as the biggest character in their community, and they provided endless tales of laughable incidents to support their claim.
But while her unassuming personality captures the imagination of all who cross her path, 45-year-old Karen Johnson, more popularly known as ‘Run Tings’ is a broken woman, because she has one desire – a solid relationship with her eldest child.
“I have 10 children, nine born here in Westmoreland, but two dead,” she told WESTERN STAR. “My eldest is 29, she born in St Elizabeth, but she distance herself from me because her father people dem tell her that mi abandon her in garbage pan, and it pain mi heart.
“I don’t want nothing from her, but a want her to know the truth … . I want her to know that her mother love her with all her heart, and I would never have done that to her,” she added.
Pregnant at 15
Run Tings hails from Slipe in St Elizabeth and got pregnant at age 15. She never attended school regularly as her mother could not afford it, but the parents of her first child’s father decided that it was in the child’s best interest for them to take her.
Run Tings claims that she had the child for a while and even moved with her to Westmoreland in 1988, but after an altercation with her babyfather, he took the child and went back to St Elizabeth, where the child was raised.
Run Tings’ eldest daughter is now a mother of two. While they have spoken since she became an adult, it is not the mother-daughter relationship she would have hoped for.
“How could I put my child in the garbage? I just could not do that,” she said, with tears streaming down her face. “I have nine children after her and I don’t ignore none of them. As poor as me is, I will do everything for them to grow in the right way.”
Run Tings burns coal to support her seven other children, with the youngest just five years old. But she says she will beg if it means putting food on the table.
“I just don’t beg like other people, I am poor but I am proud. So I will ask them for help, but in exchange for something to do,” she said.
However, she is concerned that all her children are sleeping in one room and is hoping that she can get some help to build another bedroom to separate the girls from the boys.
She also needs proper bathroom facilities.
“This is serious times and I not taking no chance,” she added. “I don’t want them in the same room anymore.”