Sunday, March 25, 2018

100th Birthday Celebrations and Reflections

Last week my grandmother celebrated her 100th birthday. Yes, you heard right, she reached a full century on March 18th and celebrated as she wished, surrounded by family and friends who travelled in the unexpected snow to be with her on this momentous occasion.

Let me start by telling you about Nanna. Yes she is 100 but take my word she is no pushover! She lives alone, bakes scones, cakes and savouries weekly and on the day of her birthday baked a steak pie just in case we were hungry while we prepared the function room for her guests! She walks on her own with the support of a stick and refuses to go near a wheelchair just in case people wonder what she is doing in a chair when she can walk (yes, she really said that). She loves arts and crafts, attends a craft class every Thursday and hand makes every birthday, anniversary and Christmas card that she sends. She reads, on average, two books a week - her favourites are fiction in the style of Catherine Cookson or similar. She is adamant that she always eat her quota of 5 vegetables a day, does not eat fatty food and rich dairy does not agree with her! 

My Nanna was born in 1918. She was not born into privilege but to a working class family in the North East of England. Her father moved to the North East from Essex for work and met her mother who was from the Durham area. They had 13 children of which my grandmother was the second youngest. The majority of her siblings also lived to a ripe old age and she has outlived almost all of them with the exception of Nan, her younger sister who is now 97. She loves to tell stories of when she worked at Windsor Castle in the 1930's and how she saw Edward VIII leave the castle the day he abdicated the throne to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson. 

She lost her husband of almost 50 years, my grandad, in 1990 just a few months before Mimi was born and it always saddens me that he never got to meet her. However, how amazing that she has had a great grandmother in her life for, (so far) 27 years! I am sure not many people can say that!

On her 100th Birthday we threw an afternoon tea party for over 70 of her family and friends and she had the best time being spoiled and made a fuss of. We popped an inflatable crown on her head and she was 'Queen for a Day!'.

My Nanna had the most fantastic day and went home with so many gifts! She was delighted to receive a card from Her Majesty the Queen and a letter from the Secretary of State. Her house now resembles and florist and she jokes that she could open her own florist shop with the amount of flowers she has received! 

In these days of medical breakthroughs and advances in treatment more and more people will be living longer and longer lives and I'm sure in years to come living to 100 will be almost the norm! The media put so much pressure on us (particularly women) to stay young looking and not to grow old. However, the truth is that growing old is a privilege that many do not get to experience. 

If I could live to be 100 years old and be in good physical and mental health like Nanna that would be amazing! But either way, this milestone celebration has brought it home to me that now is the time to live each day to the fullest, not to sweat the small stuff and to treasure my family, friends and in particular my little Nanna for as long as possible. 

Love Elle x 

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