On August 1, Pine Meadow celebrated a very special birthday. This day marked 100 years of age for this very remarkable woman.
“It was quite a busy party they had for me at the Lion’s Centre [in Northbrook]. There were people coming and going all afternoon,” she said on Tuesday morning over the phone from the nursing home as she was getting ready to head out to the weekly Drop-In in Northbrook.
It is no surprise that the hall was filled, as Merritta has quite a large immediate family. She has 11 children, “13 if you count the two who passed away, one at ten months and one at 6 weeks,” she recalled. She also has 31 grandchildren, and as great grandchildren are concerned, she isn’t exactly sure how many there are.
“There were 50-some the last time we counted,” she said.
Her family were out in force that day as most of her children, the youngest of whom is in their 60s, live within the local region, and she has one living in Napanee and one in Oshawa.
Alongside family and friends, Merritta cut the cake and ate some as well, while entertained by musical band “Dave & Marg.” Pine Meadow staff provided reflections and fun facts of what she has been witness to over the past 100 years, everything from black & white television to iPods and PS4s!
Merritta was raised on a farm on the Flinton Road, and when she was 14 she started working in a boarding house at Kaladar, later working in the kitchen at the Kaladar hotel. The hotel was located south of Highway 7 when she first worked there, before it was moved by being loaded onto logs pulled by horses to its eventual location north of the highway. When she married, she lived on a farm near Kaladar, and her husband worked in logging and construction. He worked at Sawyer Stoll in Northbrook for a time, and there was very little work in the area when the children were young, so he eventually began working in construction in Kingston, leaving every week on Monday morning and returning on Friday night as Merritta maintained the household.
“It wasn’t easy,” Merritta said.
The kids ended up going to school in Cloyne, and when her youngest was four, Merritta started working at the gas station in Northbrook (now the Northbrook Petrocan station).
When her husband retired, she was talked into retiring as well. He died a number of years ago and Merritta moved to the Pine Grove apartment complex in Northbook, where she lived for over 20 years before moving to Pine Meadow 3 years ago.
With her characteristic dry humour, she said that at Pine Meadow “I get fed good and they don’t make me work,” although she does have to chair a meeting once a month since she is the President of the Resident Council at Pine Meadow.
Although she does not leave the home every day, Merritta is active at the home, taking part in activities in and around the home.
She also gets to Church when she can, having been a member of the congregation at the Bethel Pentecostal Church for many, many years, since long before the current church building was constructed in 1972.
“Merritta is a wonderful asset to Pine Meadow and we look forward to many more celebrations with her!” said a release from Pine Meadow marking her birthday.
She said that her memory is not as good as it used to be as she prepared to hang up the phone to leave for the Drop-In on Tuesday morning, her voice strong and assured.
She must have had a pretty good one back in the day.