Eva turns 100

■ Eva Wel­don cel­e­brates the mile­stone birth­day

Mansfield Courier - - Front Page -

BE­HIND a rose filled gar­den off Highton Lane, Eva Wel­don sits qui­etly in a re­cliner chair.

Her eyes don’t see as well as they once did, and her hear­ing is al­most com­pletely gone – but at 100 years of age, she is still com­pletely with it.

Last Sun­day, fam­ily and friends gath­ered around Eva to cel­e­brate her cen­tury – re­mem­ber­ing the times gone by, the peo­ple past and present and the chang­ing of the world.

Eva, de­lighted at the gath­er­ing, has to take some­what of a back­seat – her poor hear­ing means most con­ver­sa­tions need to be car­ried out via a white­board.

Sur­pris­ingly, it’s ex­actly the way Eva wanted the cel­e­bra­tion: in her own words, she has lived her life “in the back­ground”.

“I have al­ways had a bit of an in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex,” she ex­plained loudly, striv­ing to be heard over the si­lence in her ears.

“God taught me to be hum­ble, and to be grate­ful, and that’s what I’ve al­ways aimed for.”

Faith is some­thing that runs strong in the Wel­don fam­ily.

Although she no longer can at­tend church, Eva has a friend who vis­its so she can take com­mu­nion weekly.

Her well-read bi­ble sits be­side her on the cof­fee ta­ble – al­ways close enough to pick up and look through.

“God took me un­der his wing, and I am grate­ful for that every day,” Eva said.

“It’s be­cause of him I am still here.”

Born in the de­pres­sion in Lin­coln, Eng­land, Eva was one of 14 chil­dren.

At the age of eight she be­gan to help her mother raise the ba­bies, a new one seem­ing to ap­pear every year or so.

Even­tu­ally, Eva met Al­bert, who was serv­ing in the army along with one of her broth­ers.

The pair mar­ried and had three chil­dren: Michael, Roey and Chris­tine (dec).

It is with Roey that Eva now lives, spend­ing her time look­ing out over the roses.

“We moved to Aus­tralia from Eng­land 50 years ago,” Roey said.

“Mum and Dad came to visit us, and when Dad passed away Mum de­cided she would move over per­ma­nently.”

Roey has cho­sen to take on the role of full time carer for her mother, steer­ing away from the likes of Be­o­lite and Bin­da­ree.

A de­ci­sion based on love rather than obli­ga­tion, Roey is happy to do what she can.

Eva’s lack of hear­ing doesn’t de­tract from their re­la­tion­ship; the need for words has long since van­ished.

“She gave me ev­ery­thing, and look­ing after her is the least I can do now,” Roey said.

Sit­ting for­ward in her chair to bet­ter see, Eva looks shrewdly down the lens of the Courier cam­era, cut­ting her daugh­ter off mid-sen­tence.

“Roey told me not to preach to the news­pa­per peo­ple, but you don’t mind, do you dear? she said.

“Do you see my flow­ers over there?” Eva says, chang­ing the sub­ject sud­denly, lean­ing for­ward and look­ing across at the bou­quets on the op­po­site wall.

“Peo­ple sent them to me – and the Queen as well.

“Can you be­lieve it? I didn’t know they would.”

Rolling her eyes, Roey pats her mum’s hand and says qui­etly, “sssh mum, that’s enough now”.

At 73, Roey is hardly a young daugh­ter – but is proof that the bonds forged in child­hood last an age.

Just last week, she ar­ranged for Eva to have her nails done – ready for the big party.

The fam­ily home was pre­pared, no­tices from the Queen, the Prime Min­is­ter and all man­ner of politi­cians lined up on dis­play.

But Eva was happy to sit in her chair, watch­ing the peo­ple come and go.

A quiet ex­am­ple of how great things don’t al­ways make a great life, Eva knows that there is joy in the or­di­nary and love in the ev­ery­day.

“I’ve never done any­thing that would get the at­ten­tion of the news,” she said.

“No­body would know my story – but God knows it, and my chil­dren, and that’s enough.”

CEL­E­BRATE THE GOOD TIMES: Eva Wel­don cel­e­brated her 100th birth­day on Sun­day. She is pic­tured with her niece (left) Sue Cruick­shank, and her daugh­ter Roey Collins.

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