Local resident hits century mark
As Ruta Colomb emptied the contents of a few packets of sugar into the mug sitting in front of her mother, Valentine Treibergs, Sunday morning, she looked up and smiled.
“This is the secret to long life right here — lots of coffee and sugar,” Colomb, 60, said with a laugh.
Treibergs turned 100 Sunday at ManorCare Health Services in Montgomeryville, where she’s resided for the past two years, surrounded by family, friends and residents of the nursing care facility who packed the dining room, which was filled with balloons, to celebrate the milestone by singing “Happy Birthday” and presenting Treibergs ( whose first name is pronounced “salentina”) with a cake.
Among the many guests was Treibergs’ 11- month- old greatgrandson, Micah, whom she was meeting for the very first time; her grandson, Matthias, along with his wife and their two children, Micah and 3- year- old Noah, flew up from their home in Mobile, Ala., for the festivities.
“So many surprises, so many relatives coming,” Treibergs beamed.
Besides coffee and sugar, there are apparently a few more secrets to her longevity. Potatoes, for one. “Any form, but she really loves fries,” said Colomb.
Romance novels, for another. “She’s an avid reader, and we always see her with the books with the steamy pictures on the cover,” laughed hally Shulman, ManorCare’s director of activities.
But if you ask Treibergs directly, she’ll tell you it’s her “fighting spirit.”
“I’ve been through a lot, I’m tough,” she said.
Indeed. Treibergs, who was born near Riga, the capital of Latvia, in 1913, survived the ravages of World War I, when the country endured brutal fighting between German and Russian forces. Latvia suffered again during World War II, but as Colomb explained, Treibergs and her family took the last ship that left free Latvia prior to the Soviet invasion of 1940 ( and the subsequent Nazi invasion) and moved to Germany.
And 68 years ago this week, Treibergs, who was 32 at the time, was on a train to Dresden the night Allied forces began their devastating bombing campaign on the German city.
“The train stopped, they said, ‘ Everyone needs to get off,’ and they all ran into the woods,” said Colomb. “My mother saw the planes coming in.
“It’s funny how there were different things that probably would have ended her life, and she just happened to escape, and now she’s made it to 100,” she said.
Shulman said that Treibergs often tells stories about the old days “and it brings tears to my eyes, everything she’s seen and been through.”
Around 1950, Treibergs immigrated to America after a family in sirginia sponsored her and brought her to live on their farm. She eventually married and made her way to Pennsylvania, settling down in Spring House, and worked as an aide in a nursing home. After retiring, she lived in her home until she was 98, when a broken hip necessitated surgery and a move to ManorCare. Colomb, who lives in North Wales, said that her mother is a bit hard of hearing but otherwise in good health, and that she loves to sing, to paint and she makes “great chicken soup.”
“She is absolutely amazing,” added Shulman. “She is very cognitive and very funny, just a sweet, sweet person.”
Treibergs is looking forward to seeing Micah learn how to walk and talk. And when asked how she plans to spend her next 100 years, she and her whole family exploded in laughter.
“I’m not sure yet how I’m going to do that,” said Treibergs, “but I’m going to try and find out.”
This is the secret to long life right here — lots of coffee and sugar.
Valentine Treibergs celebrates her 100th birthday Sunday at ManorCare Health Services in Montgomeryville.
Valentine Treibergs is joined by family members and friends as she celebrates her 100th birthday Sunday at ManorCare Health Services in Montgomeryville.