Mary, 105, declares 'I've been blessed'
Invercargill woman Mary McMillan remembers her first taxi ride a little differently to most people.
"I remember the elegant clip-clop of the hooves on the asphalt, which was so different to the clomping of the draught horses down the gravel road that I was used to," Mrs McMillan said during her 105th birthday celebrations yesterday.
Mrs McMillan's first taxi ride was in a horse-drawn cart, to visit relatives in Invercargill. She was 11 years old and the year was 1919.
Other fond memories include the honeymoon trip she and her husband took in 1937, which included attending an All Blacks test. "It was some of the best passing I've seen," Mrs McMillan said.
The eldest of eight children, Mrs McMillan grew up on a farm near Waituna.
"It looks a bit different these days," she said, referring to the recent publicity around the condition of the Waituna Lagoon.
She said there were far fewer opportunities for young women when she was growing up.
"I didn't have much of an education. As the eldest of the family, you were needed to stay home and help take care of the running of the house and to take care of the babies."
When Mrs McMillan married her husband, she did not move too far from home. "It was about four miles down the road," she said.
Mrs McMillan has three daughters, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Her secret to a long life is simple: "Eat whatever you want."
There were exceptions, though.
"My mother was a good cook, my father a good gardener, so we had beautiful meals.
"Avoid what comes in a packet. We didn't have that variety in my day; we had the pure food."
Mrs McMillan's daughter, Kate, described her mother as a woman ahead of her time.
"It's such a pity she never had a proper education. She has always had an interest in health foods, has always been learning new things."
She said her mother was an inspiration.
Mrs McMillan, who lives at the Rose Lodge Rest Home and Retirement Village in Invercargill, received birthday cards from the Queen, Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, Prime Minister John Key, and Invercargill MP Eric Roy. She also received art work from some of her five great-grandchildren.
Mrs McMillan wrote a letter in acknowledgement of her birthday.
"It's been a long time since my idyllic childhood till my 105th birthday," she wrote.
"I've had a privileged life, partly because of the times and place I was born in and partly also to my wonderful caring parents and family. I've been blessed with good health and the best of care in my extreme old age."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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