Most of us don’t expect to be able to celebrate our birthday 107 times, but for Assisted Living resident, Ethel, she’ll do just that. Ethel will celebrate turning 107 this Sunday, October 10! Being born in 1914, she has lived through many significant events, such as two World Wars, women receiving the right to vote, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement, the first space flight, the internet being launched, and the COVID-19 pandemic (just to name a few).
Ethel shared with us some memories and wisdom she’s garnered over the last 107 years. She remembers her childhood being quite lonely. Her brother worked long hours and her sister was away from home much of the time, so she didn’t see them very often. Her mother then died at the young age of 52 from a stroke. Ethel spent a lot of time out in nature and distinctly remembers many days spent sitting on the ground by the river watching the current drift by.
As she spoke of her mother, Ethel’s love for her was evident. “She was a good, dear mother,” said Ethel. “I can remember one time when she stood over my bed crying because it was the first time in a year that I was able to get out of bed and stand,” she explained. Ethel had Typhoid Fever when she was young, and her mother cared for her while she was confined to bed for a year. After recovering, Ethel discovered her love for dance. “I always liked to dance,” she said. “I did ballroom dancing in Champaign.” As she spoke, her feet began to make small movements and she began counting off the steps. “That’s the Quick Step!” she said as her eyes twinkled.
She met and married Joe, who was in charge of Veteran’s Affairs throughout much of the Midwest. “No one was any nicer than he was,” she gushed. She had a wonderful life with Joe and remembers his affection for her lasting until the very end. “I remember he picked me up and put me on his lap. He said that one of us had to go first and he wanted it to be him because he couldn’t live without me. Then he kissed me,” said Ethel. “He had a brain tumor and knew he was dying. He died two days later.”
When asked what she thinks makes a good life, Ethel shared this advice: “Start out behaving yourself. Do what you’re supposed to do and don’t do what you’re not supposed to do.”
Very wise words from a very special lady. Happy 107th birthday, Ethel!