She’s a Centenarian

How many people you know are 100 years old or more? I’ve known several in their eighties and nineties, but, for me, only one who turned 100—yesterday. Her name is Nellie and she is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. She lives next door in a house she maintains herself. She does her own cleaning and laundry, cooking and washing dishes. She even still drives her car and is a safe driver. She can count backwards from one hundred just like I would count forward. I can’t do that!

Nellie is also stubbornly independent. She insists on getting her mail from across the street, often in the rain. I try to beat her to it, but she scolds me saying she needs the exercise. This past summer, she and I wanted to re-sod our lawns and, since she doesn’t have a computer, I did the research on sod sources and lawn maintenance companies and someone to check our existing sprinklers. Together we set up appointments to get estimates and made arrangements to get the work done. She already knew how to program her sprinkler and now we both have fabulous new lawns.

I asked, “If you could describe your life in one word, what would it be?” She immediately said, “Happy.” Then I asked her if she had highlights she could tell me about. She said her 61 year marriage to her husband, Johnny, and the birth of her daughter were tops, but she went on to tell me about many trips and adventures she shared with her family, and card parties and going to Busch Gardens every year. Without hesitation she said, “I have no regrets.”

I asked her if there was anything bad she remembered and she told me how she and her husband bought a house here in Florida and they kept up flood insurance payments for many years and when the insurance got too expensive and they’d had no problems, they dropped it. Of course, a few years afterwards, a storm completely flooded their house and they lost everything. She related how she saw a snake swimming through her home and screamed for her husband to get rid of it. He wasn’t very enthusiastic about this and she said, “Okay, I’ll get a bucket.” She scooped it up praying it wouldn’t jump out, and trying to wade as fast as she could through thigh-high water, she squealed all the way to the toilet where she tossed it in. “It’s funny now, but it wasn’t then!” she chuckled.

Her best friend is Lillian, a widow like her and also her sister-in-law, who lives on the next street. Lillian is like Nellie in that she also lives alone and drives, and she’s ninety. The two of them love to get together to play cards, sometimes until the wee hours and Nellie likes to sleep late. One advantage of being a bit hard-of-hearing is that she is not disturbed by the early morning sounds of yard men mowing and such, since she takes her hearing aids out when she sleeps.

When Dancing with the Stars was on she and I would talk the next day about which dances we liked and which stars we rooted for. She even took the time and trouble to vote! And even though we thought all the dancers in the finals were fabulous, we both were pleased when Derek Hough and the lovely and gracious Bindy Irwin won the Mirror Ball Trophy.

This Christmas season, as we celebrate the gift Our Father has given us in the birth of Our Savoir, I am thankful for the gift of Nellie in my life. She is such a gracious and happy person even though she suffers from some of the aches and pains of old age. I want to be just like her when I grow up!

Happy 100 Nellie!


Coco Ihle is the author of She Had to Know, an atmospheric, traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under life, musings

15 responses to “She’s a Centenarian

  1. amazing that Nellie is so active at her age. I wonder if what she has can be passed on to us??!!!

  2. What a great life she’s led and what an inspiration to us all. My aunt is going to be 100 in about two weeks, and she’s still writing poetry, which I also find pretty amazing. I read recently of a man who was 103 and has just got married to a young lass of 96, so I am filled with wonder at these people’s zest for life. Wonderful

  3. Peter, congratulations to your aunt! And good for her for still enjoying writing poetry. She’s another person we should try to emulate. How wonderful! And, as for the 103 year old gentleman–good for him!!! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Happy holidays to you and yours.

  4. People never cease to amaze me. Happy holidays for all the strong fighters out the!


    Hi Coco,
    I enjoyed reading your beautiful and inspiring story about Nellie. She is to be cherished and I am positive you are doing a good job in that area.
    All the best, Pat

  6. Wow! I want to be like her too. I’m enjoying the company of my 87 year old mum and best friend for Christmas, and I really enjoyed reading your post.

    • Thank you so much, Sheila. I saw the pictures on Facebook. How wonderful you are able to share this time together. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and leave a comment in this very busy time of year. I wish you both a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

  7. Joanie

    Your Sister, Joanie
    December 12, 2015 at 1:35pm

    Nellie’s life should be an inspiration to us all. You are so blessed to have her for a neighbor and friend. God Bless You, Nellie!

    • Thank you, Sis! I’ll let Nellie know what you said. And thank you, too, for reading my post and for the lovely comment. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and the family!

  8. Virginia Dieste

    How furtunate you are to have such an inspiring neighbor. I think, as I’m getting older, that the secret of her happy life is to accept the inevitable changes in your life and embrace the opportunity of having the extra time to do for others and be an example for the younger generations to follow. May your Christmas and New Year be healthy and peaceful, with love for one another.

    • I believe you are right, Virginia. You are another person to emulate. Thank you for your friendship. Happy loving holidays to you, too. Thank you for reading my blog and for your lovely comment.

  9. Susan Coggins

    Way to go Nellie. God bless her. This story could have almost been my mother-in-law who died on her 100th birthday. She was independent until the end – mowing grass, climbing on ladders,
    yelling at the neighbor kids to get their bikes off her lawn and for the snow plows not to block her driveway. She was all of 5’2″ and 110 pounds maybe soaking wet. And a force to be dealt with. We had her 100th birthday party with all the family – about 50 people. She went to bed at 11pm and died at 11:10 as if to say “Ok, I did as you asked, lived to be 100, not let me rest.” What a woman.

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