100 years young

Wind­sor’s Mar­garet Mitchell cel­e­brat­ing a cen­tury March 29

Valley Journal Advertiser - - EXTRAS - BY COLIN CHISHOLM HANTSJOURNAL.CA Colin.Chisholm@hantsjournal.ca

“I will hit 100,” Mar­garet Mitchell says with a big grin. “Un­less a car runs over me or some­thing.”

She gig­gles mis­chie­vously. Mitchell is cel­e­brat­ing a very spe­cial birth­day on March 29 - turn­ing 100 years young.

She sits in one of the many com­fort­able chairs in a seat­ing area at the Gla­dys M. Man­ning Memo­rial Home in Wind­sor, a re­tire­ment liv­ing com­plex.

She’s only been liv­ing at the Man­ning for a lit­tle over a year, not want­ing to leave her home, just down the road a bit.

Is she ex­cited about the big day? “No, but I’m happy I made it,” she says. Her blue eyes are sharp.

As she talks about her life, sev­eral folks stop by to say ‘good af­ter­noon’ or ‘hello’ as they walk by.

But what’s her ‘se­cret’ to liv­ing this long?

“As far as I’m con­cerned, I don’t think there’s any se­cret, be­cause the closer you get to it, the more anx­ious you are to get it over with,” she said.

She is ex­cited to see fam­ily and friends to cel­e­brate the big day at the Man­ning. Some are com­ing from as far as Wash­ing­ton State to mark the oc­ca­sion.

Mitchell uses a cane or a walker to get around, but she says stay­ing in­de­pen­dent is im­por­tant to her.

From 1918 to 2018

“Even in my hun­dred years, a lot of un­ex­pected things hap­pened that never did in my mother’s age,” she said. “Per­haps the most un­ex­pected thing was the war. We lost quite a few peo­ple.”

Mitchell’s par­ents im­mi­grated to Canada from the U.K. - she says they were seek­ing the idyl­lic farm life in Al­berta. But times were hard.

Mitchell was in her early twen­ties when the Sec­ond World War broke out. She re­calls many young men sign­ing up for ser­vice, many never com­ing home.

She grew up in Al­berta be­fore set­tling in Halifax with her hus­band.

“I’m strictly western, but when I did visit Nova Sco­tia for the first time, I was so keen to see the ocean,” she said. “We were on the prairie, so you were lucky to ever see a boat.”

Ro­mance through let­ters

Mitchell re­mem­bers her late hus­band, Earl Mitchell, fondly, re­call­ing how they would cor­re­spond fre­quently through mail be­fore they got mar­ried.

“He lived in Halifax and went to the same church as my un­cle,” she said. “My un­cle in­vited me to their place and I was only go­ing to be there a month, but I stayed for a year to go to school.”

Earl started writ­ing to her, she said.

“He asked one of my girl­friends if she thought I would ever an­swer his let­ters. I said, ‘try it’,” she says.

They wrote back and forth to each other ev­ery day for two years be­fore he popped the ques­tion, send­ing an en­gage­ment ring to her via Canada Post.

“Ev­ery­body was laugh­ing at him for send­ing a ring in the mail,” she said. “It could have got stolen and ev­ery­thing else.”

She ac­cepted his pro­posal and the two were mar­ried shortly after.

“I al­ways thought he was quite a char­ac­ter, a very kind per­son,” she said. “He met all of the qual­i­fi­ca­tions for mar­riage, although I had no in­ten­tion of get­ting mar­ried at the time.”

The pair had a very happy mar­riage, she says.

“I never thought I would ever be able to meet the great ex­pec­ta­tions he had, but I must have, be­cause he never both­ered with any­body else,” she said. “We never got out of love.” Earl died in 2009 at the age of 95. “No­body ap­pealed to me after that,” she said with a laugh. “We just got along like two peas in a pod. It was a very happy mar­riage.”

The cou­ple had two chil­dren, Mar­i­lyn and Bruce. Mitchell said she’s in­cred­i­bly proud of them both. They raised their fam­ily in Halifax be­fore even­tu­ally mov­ing to Wind­sor.

Mitchell moved, some­what be­grudg­ingly, to the Man­ning last year at the be­hest of her chil­dren. But she’s happy in her new place.

“It’s very nice here, the peo­ple are great,” she said.

COLIN CHISHOLM

Mar­garet Mitchell holds a pho­to­graph show­ing her late hus­band Earl and her­self on their wed­ding day. The cou­ple was mar­ried for over 65 years. On March 29, Mar­garet will cel­e­brate her 100th birth­day.

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