May 10 – How Did I Get To Age 100?

by Patricia Roop Hollinger

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“I have no aspirations to live to be 100,” my mother has stated on many occasions. However, despite her protestations against becoming a centenarian her family celebrated her 100th birthday June of 2013.

The actual date was July 12th, but June suited children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren for the gathering since it required a three-hour drive 81S to Bridgewater, Virginia; the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.

You do not attempt to surprise someone at age 100. Besides, the surprise of a sister arriving from Florida for her 80th birthday had been sufficient in the realm of surprises.

She took the stage and recited a poem by memory that she had learned in grade school. Elocution was distinct and clear. She didn’t miss a beat. We all just listened and wondered in awe, “What poem would we be sharing at age 100 and without notes?”

My mother, Olive Virginia Main Roop. was born on a farm homestead July 12, 1913 in Union Bridge, MD–the homestead where my older sister and I were also born. Her mother was Edith Roop Main and so my parents were second or third cousins. This bids the question, “Might I be my own Grandma?”

Olive (Mom) lives in her own apartment at Bridgewater Village Retirement Community. Being a farmer’s wife, a primary occupation was that of preparing three hearty meals daily for family, threshers, and any farm hands enlisted. Egg custard, apple crisp, baked bread and always a healthy salad was served up for guests whether they are hungry or not.

Olive and Roger (her husband of 70 years) also were movers and shakers when it came to their passion for making this world a safer, more peaceful place to inhabit. After World War II (1944-48) what now known as Heifer International began on our farm as Heifer Project.

Their vision was that if heifers were shipped to war-torn Europe, families could restock lost cattle and provide fresh milk for their children instead of the powdered version. Of course, the stipulation was that when that heifer had her first female offspring it must be passed on to another family.

This required endless hours of cattle coming and going to our farm. There were no days off. Meals were prepared in the middle of the night if that is when the cattle arrived.

Roger died May 8, 2001 at the age of 91. Mom says, “He was the love of my life.”

Loneliness set in and a widower in our church began to seek out her company.

“What would people think?” she wondered.

That is no longer a concern for she and John, age 92, have been companions for the past 13 years. Her children celebrate their friendship for it has enhanced both their lives.

Viva 100 Mom!

Patricia is the middle daughter born to Roger and Olive in 1939. She can’t imagine NOT being raised on a farm where she could ponder the wonders of life. She is an avid reader, musician, gardener, and retired Chaplain/Pastoral Counselor/LCPC who is now in pursuit of writing her own words.

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3 responses to “May 10 – How Did I Get To Age 100?

  1. marvalousmarva

    What an interesting story! I am intrigued by the fact that your mother made the bold decision to be courted and take on a companion in her golden years. That is a bold move and a wonderful decision. The story of the farm life, the Heifer Foundation and her recitation at her 100th birthday anniversary are inspiring. Your mother is a woman to emulate. Your story affirms for me that women truly do work wonders!!

  2. Jinni Turkelson

    Wow! I love this story and I want to be Olive when I get old. Well,I’m already old but not close to 100 yet. She is truly an inspiration! Thanks for sharing.

  3. How amazing to be 100 and still remember that grade school poem. It sounds like she is surrounded by loving children and friends, what more does anyone need. Thanks for sharing.

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