100 years young
Windsor’s Margaret Mitchell celebrating a century March 29
“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.
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.