I was lucky enough to attend the first 100th birthday party ever celebrated at the Garlands of Barrington retirement residence this past Friday. The first resident to turn 100, Betty Catlin, celebrated her birthday with cake, friends and a barbershop quartet serenade. I worked my way through the crowd and found a minute to meet her, wish her happy birthday and ask if she might share a little advice about living a healthy and happy life in any decade. She was quick to offer two simple secrets that I so appreciate and will always remember.
As a mother to six, grandmother to ten and great-grandmother to 14 children, Mrs. Catlin has lived a full and lively 100 years. And, of course, the fact that she works out seven days a week with her friends at The Garlands’ fitness center has helped keep her in great physical shape. But here are the two pieces of advice Mrs. Catlin shared about her overall approach to life that have surely kept her young over these past 100 years…
1. Be Positive
“Whatever you have to put up with, find something positive about it. My husband developed Alzheimer’s when he was in his late sixties and that was pretty hard to take. But I kept telling myself he’s not suffering. He was perfectly happy so there was something good even about that and if you look hard enough you’ll find something good in every situation and that’s the thing to do.”
2. Do Things in Moderation
“Don’t overdo it in anything you do. Even if it seems good, don’t do too much of it.”
And, with that, Mrs. Catlin politely ended our interview to greet the guests waiting to give her birthday wishes. But not without first adding this last thought about the past 11 years she’s been living at The Garlands.
“Living here is a wonderful thing when you get past a certain age and you have times when you need a little help with something very simple but you can’t do it yourself. All you have to do is pick up the telephone and somebody will be there to help you. It really is a wonderful place to live.”
According to The Garlands Director of Activities (and the woman holding Mrs. Catlin’s birthday cake), Jill Lund, there are currently 240 residents in The Garland’s Independent Living residences and close to 70 people in their Assisted Living, Memory Care and Skilled Nursing residences. For more information, visit TheGarlands.com. And for more images from Friday’s 100th birthday party, I have created a slideshow and gallery for you to enjoy. Happy birthday, Mrs. Catlin!