Duane Goodma claims the secret to making it to the century mark is just to “keep breathing in and out.”
Goodma, a mere 93, promises to do just that to catch up with his friend, Bertha Erby, who turns 100 on April 14.
“That’s right,” Erby nods in agreement.
Reminiscing about her life over the past century, she shares her own thoughts about living a good life.
“I had two husbands who passed away and one boy,” she tells him. “I raised eight dogs. And I don’t drink.”
Goodma pitches in with, “The oldest lady I knew was 100. I asked her how she feels, and she said, ‘Oh, about 105.”
Laughter spreads around the table as the diners continue to exchange pieces of their past with one another.
“Feels pretty good,” Erby says of almost reaching 100.
She joined four centenarians on Feb. 16 for birthday luncheon celebrations at Holiday Retirement at Hidden Lakes, a retirement facility in south Salem.
According to the last census, roughly 53,000 individuals who are 100 years old or older are living in the United States, and five live at Hidden Lakes, including Erby. The others are: Red Olin, 105; Jerry Perry, 102; Nadine Girod, 100; and Betty Wilson, 100.
“The only thing unusual about turning 100 is that I really made it,” Wilson says to the three ladies sitting around her table.
With a bouquet of flowers in her arms to celebrate her Jan. 7 birthday, Wilson shares that she wishes for more time to prepare her thoughts about living so long. Chatter resumes, and it’s obvious that the ladies feel right at home with one another.
Wilson credits her longevity to the “very good care” given to her by her husband and two daughters. And, she says, she hasn’t stopped dreaming.
“I’m a writer,” she says. “I’m writing short stories to have for my family — or maybe to sell. God has let me live this long for a reason.”
She shares that her granddaughter gave her a New York Times book on her actual birthday that catalogued major events throughout her century of life.
“It’s wonderful to look back and see all that has happened,” she says.
Jerry Perry joins three ladies at his table. He opens the conversation by reminiscing about his wife, Inez, who died in 2001. His second wife, Joan, is still living. Ask Perry his secret to living to a ripe old age and he’ll tell you without hesitation, “Get a good wife.”
Nadine Girod turned 100 on Jan. 22, and Red Olin will be 106 on July 15. The two, says a Hidden Lakes staff member, are dating.
While turning 100 might be just another day to the “super five,” listening to piano music, playing a round of community trivia, chatting with friends while enjoying prime rib, and finishing the special celebratory lunch by dipping into strawberry sundaes make it just a little bit out of the ordinary, the centenarians agree.
“It’s what keeps you young at heart,” says Ray Hanley, a Hidden Lakes resident who volunteered to help at the celebration.
Joyce Gilbert, enrichment coordinator for Hidden Lakes, was on hand during the celebrations to elaborate on independent senior living at the community and what the centenarians mean to their fellow residents.
Read more Holiday Retirement centenarian stories at holidaytouch.com under “100 Years of Wisdom.”