A Family Centenary celebration coming up next weekend.

“Live your life and forget your age” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

A week this Sunday, hubby’s Mom in England will celebrate her 100th birthday, and all the family will be there cheering her on at her party for 140 people at the village hall. She’s always as bright as a button, and I’ve never heard her complain about getting old; in fact her age is a source of pride, and she’s so looking forward to getting the Queen’s telegram. Last week the woman in the cake shop, was very surprised when this sprightly woman walked in to order her own 100th birthday cake.  She has lived on her own, in her double storey, three-bedroom house since she was widowed twenty years ago, and does all her own cooking, with friends often calling in to have tea with her. Her favourite pastime is playing scrabble on the computer, and she is a daunting opponent in the competitions she takes part in. She bakes really delicious cakes, and until a few years ago, used to enter them in local competitions and often win first prize. For her 90th birthday, she baked and decorated a delicious Pavlova, and dozens of friends and relatives came to her party.


Five years ago, she and my Mom accompanied hubby and I on a trip to the USA to visit our son and family. These two old ladies, were so excited and cheerful on the flight over from England. It was such an adventure for them both; the first time they’d been to America.

They walked their legs off all around New York city, taking in the sights and sounds and never complaining of being tired. The two of them shopped up a storm at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Banana Republic.


and posed for photos in Times Square.

We took the ferry across to Ellis Island where the new immigrants to the USA used to be processed, and then we were off to see the Statue of Liberty. What a thrill that was for them both.

A two-hour car journey took us down to Washington, where we stayed for a couple of days, going to see the White House, the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and other historical sites. Once again, the two of them put their best feet forward and enjoyed every minute. They were like excited teenagers, and it was such a joy to be with them.


The reason I’m telling you all this is that it’s my birthday on Sunday, and every birthday that comes around I remember how I sobbed my heart out at my 21st party, because I would never be young again. Hubby had to take me for a walk around the block to calm me down. What a silly young thing I must have been, with not a thought in my head for all the wonderful years still to come. I suppose I must have believed then that youth was the most important thing in life, but I was so wrong. Life experience is worth far more than transient youthfulness. The years since my 21st have been full of wonderful achievements with the addition to our family of two precious children and five gorgeous grandchildren. Talents which as a youngster I didn’t realise the value of, have been polished and used. I’ve watched with pride as my children grew up into responsible, successful and happy adults. Many people have come in and out of my life and taught me valuable lessons in the process. I’ve learned to be more caring for others’ needs and wants and have also experienced the love and selflessness of my family and friends towards me. It’s only as one grows older and hopefully wiser that one appreciates the benefits of not being young any more. Speaking for myself, I’m so grateful for the lessons learned over the years, and wouldn’t trade my life experience for the youth I had then.

It’s been said that “Life begins at forty,” but I believe that life begins every morning when you wake up, however old you are. You may have a job to go to; embrace it and be the best you can be. You may have children to care for; give this task the best you’ve got. A happy childhood is one of the most precious gifts that parents have in their power to bestow. Maybe you have a talent which needs a little nurturing to bring it to the fore; give yourself the chance to shine and let others have the benefit of it too. If you are already old, then share the wisdom of your years with those younger and less experienced than yourself. Life teaches us lessons for a purpose, and we can often find someone who can benefit from what we have learned. Aging isn’t something to be feared. As Gloria Pitzer, an American TV personality once said, “About the only thing that comes to us without effort is old age.” We can either plan for it by keeping ourselves healthy and fit and being wise with our financial planning for our old age, or we can just let it creep upon us unawares and give us a big fright when we suddenly realise that it’s too late to do anything about it.

Every day is a gift to us and whether we’re young, middle-aged or downright over the hill, we can always “Seize the day” and run with it. Well maybe not literally run, but you know what I mean. When you’re young, live your life as though there IS a tomorrow, so that when you’re old, you can live as though there’s NO tomorrow.

138 comments on “A Family Centenary celebration coming up next weekend.

  1. What a beautiful, beautiful post, Sylvia! And those two remarkable, young at heart, women are so inspiring 🙂 Wishing you all, much happiness always

  2. What a wonderful post! Every young person should read this and be inspired. I love the line about life beginning every day you wake up, no matter what your age. How true is that?! I love your trip to NY pictures with your mothers. That is a special gift as well. Enjoy your trip. 🙂

  3. P.S. thank you for the wonderful article 😀 If life begins at 40, I am still a baby – almost :D. You made me smile Sylvia. I wish I could offer you some chilled wine for your birthday and hear you sing 😀

  4. I have reade Peale before, but did not hear this quote before :D. How apt 🙂 and full of wisdom. I hope you are having a blast today honey. Be happy!

  5. Oh, Sylvia, I was also young and silly. I cried my eyes out when I turned thirty! To me that was the start of really getting old… I can’t believe that’s how conceited I was about youth and appearances! Funny how we get more sense as we get older – thank goodness!

  6. Again such a beautiful post. Happy belated birthday to you and happy 100th to your mother in law. She seems like a great inspiration for all. 🙂

  7. What a beautiful post and words by which I live ~ every day is a gift. Thank you for sharing the lovely story of your mother and mother-in-law and their visit to the States. Simply delightful and what wonderful role models!

  8. BEAUTIFUL ARTICLE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BOTH OF YOU! Love the wisdom expressed in your post. What a gift to live to be 100 years old!


  9. I so enjoyed reading this wonderful post, AD – if ever those two wonderful ladies are in Sydney, I’d love to show them around – reading your post, I’m sure they’d even be game for the Bridgeclimb. I once heard an interview with a woman who said she doesn’t mind it at all when people ask her age because she is proud that she has made it thus far. I agree – age is not something to complain about but to be grateful for. Happy Birthday to you! 😀

    • Thanks so much for the birthday wishes, bluebee. Yes, old age is something not granted to everyone, so we must treasure every moment. 🙂

  10. This is such an inspirational post AD, what a great lady your MIL is, and your lovely Mom too for that matter. Wishing your MIL a splendid centenary celebration, that’s a life well lived 🙂

  11. What a lovely post that screams celebrate life! Happy birthday to both of you, may the year that lie ahead for both of you be richly blessed with incredible moments full of celebration! 🙂

  12. AD this is just the most marvelous post… I think as much as I’ve always praised your photos and stories… none compare to this… I can not come up with an superlative that can describe how I feel about this share… having an Aunt who is now 102 and still has a memory far better than mine.. I know exactly how you feel… top of the class for this post… absolutely bloody marvelous…

  13. I love it! your two mothers are such an inspiration. I absolutely loved this too “life begins every morning when you wake up”. so true! Have a fabulous birthday!!

  14. Happy Birthday to you (in advance). Your words are from a wise owl. When people ask me if I wish i were young again, I always say, “and to be that stupid? No way!”

    Cheers to your mother-in-law’s approaching milestone and your dedication in this post to two fine women!

  15. Oh Sylvia, that was such a feel good post….I loved it and those 2 adorable ladies!

    Happy Birthday for Sunday and to your mother in law!!! Hip Hip Hooray to both of you.

    Love and hugs Paula xxx

  16. Really fab post ad, your two precious old ladies are beacons of health and love of life … you will be the same … and i agree with all your advice, wisdom indeed 🙂

  17. Congratulations to the centenarian she still looks young and fit. Enjoy your time together

  18. What a lovely post Sylvia! Here’s wishing you a very happy birthday for Sunday, may you have many more and a very happy 100th birthday to your mom in law.
    Have a wonderful day and weekend.
    Take care and regards


  19. You may not have been very wise at 21 but you’ve certainly made up for it now. The ‘mums’ are lovely ladies, enjoy the celebrations!

  20. Amazing post! I loved everything I read, looks like such a nice place to visit. I’ve been to NYC and fell in love with it… Maybe one day I’ll be able to say the same about Washington.

  21. “… it’s my birthday on Sunday, and every birthday that comes around I remember how I sobbed my heart out at my 21st party, because I would never be young again…”
    for sure you and your hubby will reach the 100 too, stats are good for this, at least for the generation of grandchildren (latest bio stats)

  22. Another stunning post AD and you’re right, she is as bright as a button. Both of you must enjoy your birthdays hon and it’s true what you say about age. Thanks for sharing hon and enjoy! 😀 *big hugs*

  23. WOW – One hundred -what a blessing!
    Love the photos you shared. Both moms look fabulous 🙂 🙂
    Love their spirit!
    Yes – every day is indeed a blessing.
    Happy birthday weekend to you & happy 100 to your mother in-law.
    {Birthday Hugs} to you both!

  24. What a wonderful post!! I want to wish you AND hubby’s mother very happy Birthdays!!! Such a great message for us all……such inspiring women 🙂 🙂
    Thanks AD….you’ve given me a lot to think about!

  25. Happy Birthday to you, Sylvia and many, many more healthy and loving ones year after year. Happy Birthday to your hubby’s Mom. Such a testament that if we have a positive attitude all things are possible. She is a good example of accepting where you are and enjoying it without complaints or regrets. They are truly a blessings to you both. Your Mom looks pretty sharp, too. How special to be surrounded with love.
    Blessings to you all …
    Izzy xoxoxo

    • Thanks so much for the blessings, Izzy. Yes all things are possible, and with a positive attitude, life is such a great adventure. 🙂 *hugs*

  26. This is a “keeper” post! I especially liked “I believe that life begins every morning when you wake up, however old you are.” There is so much to learn, explore, experience. Heading out into the sunshine on an adventure – have no idea where I’ll end up, but that is the joy of living in the moment.

  27. Happy birthday, happy birthday! Sylvia, I think this is my favorite post of yours. You are a wonderful storyteller, and you really inspire me!

  28. Happy Birthday to you both, are you flying over for the party? I have always enjoyed hearing about your Mom and Mom-in-law and the adventures they get up to….truly both of them must be such a blessing to have in your lives….

    • Thanks, Annie. Yes of course we’ll be there, and our daughter and family from Johannesburg too. Our son and family are travelling from New York, and also relatives from Los Angeles. It’s going to be a great celebration. 🙂

  29. anche io ho nonni centenari, il nonno poeta e la nonna grande lavoratrice al crochet…sempre allegri e pieni di vita, sono l’orgoglio e la gioia per la famiglia intera, così lo è senz’altro per la vostra la dolce nonnina che non dimostra affatto l’età
    calso I have centuries-old grandparents, Grandpa and Grandma great poet woman to crochet … always cheerful and full of life, are the pride and joy for the whole family, so it is undoubtedly for your sweet granny who does not prove any age
    may God bless you all!
    he Dio tutti vi benedica!

  30. What an amazing and inspirational post, Sylvia. I remember my 20th was when I had my meltdown (how silly I feel about that now) 😉

    Happy birthday to both of you and I’m looking forward to the photos! 😀

  31. Good thoughts you have there AD…
    As for the grande dames’ visit to the States – must have been an exciting time for them 🙂

  32. I love this post. It reminded me of the year that a girlfriend of mine and I were turning 15. She was so depressed about how “old” we were. This year, I have a 15 year old of my own. Funny 🙂

  33. You guys are doing your best to “uplift” me tonight! I’ve just come from ThirdeyeMom and an Iris Murdoch quote that tells me to give myself lots of small treats to make life enjoyable. I believe I do, and one of them is reading blogs like this. 🙂
    I didn’t realise you were in the UK so soon, Sylvia- it’s not long since your last trip here? Age is a question of genes as well as attitude of mind, isn’t it? Your mum-in-law is a lucky lady. I feel sad whenever I visit my 96 year old auntie in a nursing home. Up till 2 years ago she was leading an independent life too, and is alert enough to be aware of her current circumstances.

    • Thanks do much for your lovely comment, Jo. I agree that genes have a lot to do with the way we age. I’m s sorry about your dear auntie. It must be hard for you to see her like this.

  34. Best wishes to both birthday girls! I so totally agree with you about the perspective on age. The three of you look like you’re having loads of fun in those photos. They put a smile on my face!

  35. This gave me goosebumps! What a wonderful post of GOOD NEWS!! She is just the most gorgeous 100 year old I have EVER seen and she flew across the pond at 95!!! How very inspiring and what a lift this gave my morning. People like you should be writing our news. This kind of wonderful news does not get the attention it deserves in our mainstream media. Happy Birthday & many more to you both!

    • Thanks so much, Cindy. Yes you’re right, good news doesn’t usually make the mainstream media. There’s far too much destruction and mayhem to fill the front pages.

  36. Brilliant post, AD. One of your best. Thoroughly enjoyed the read. And the photos are super.
    I hope I look that good at 100…I might even wear a dress if I get there! Lol.
    Does the Queen still send out telegrams for the big 100?
    My gran missed her’s by a few months, sad to say.

    • Thanks so much for the praise, Ark. You wear a dress? Now that I would love to see. Yes, she’s already been checked out for the telegram. 🙂

      • Ah, good so the telegram thing is still going on.
        Hey, you have my word, I get to 100 I’ll be at my celebratory table in a dress.
        What do you reckon, Oscar de la Rente, Givenchy?

  37. The two ladies look wonderful! It really looks like they had fun. And very wise words you have bestowed on us in this post 🙂

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