Participant at The Retreat Turns 10003/21/2016

Participant at The Retreat Turns 100

Marie Roberts, or Granny as she is affectionately known, makes aging look easy. As spry as ever on the eve of her 100th birthday, Granny moves with the mobility of someone 30 years younger and possesses a sunny disposition unlike most, regardless of age.

Born in Tennessee, Granny was one of six children, commonplace at that time, but hectic nonetheless. She recalls her family with fondness. %u201CWe had a big family but we enjoyed our family.%u201D Near her home in Tennessee was a large hill that %u201Cyou couldn%u2019t hardly climb. We%u2019d pull a sled up to the top of that thing, we cut out a path that we would sled down. It%u2019s a wonder we hadn%u2019t gotten killed!%u201D She pauses, laughing. %u201CWe did that a lot%u2026I had a good life growing up.%u201D

This idyllic childhood was forever altered when, %u201Cwe moved to Missouri, my daddy had a brother there that farmed. I had to hoe cotton and I never had worked any harder in my life.%u201D In the middle of this discussion Granny stopped short, with a pensive look. %u201CI can%u2019t tell you the feeling of living on a farm, but I can tell you kina%u2019 what it was like. Did you ever see a cotton patch?%u201D Despite the many years that have passed since Granny worked on her father%u2019s farm, she can recall the process from start to finish like it was yesterday. %u201COh lord, it was a lot of work. Take us til%u2019 the end of Christmas to get rid of that cotton business.%u201D

She reflects for a moment on her parents. %u201CI got paid for every pound I ever picked, my daddy was that way. I would spend the money I earned. Saved some of it to have when there wasn%u2019t any cotton to pick and I%u2019d be goin to school, you know how kids want candy and all that stuff. I just spent it like I wanted to. I did buy my clothes with it.%u201D A slow smile spreads across Granny%u2019s face at this anecdote. She elaborates, laughing in between each breath. %u201CMy brother just spent his going out with girls.%u201D

Eventually a man named Levi Harris came to town, a part of building the roads that would one day stretch across the U.S %u201CI married Levi Harris and had one child, Annella Joe. I didn%u2019t have a big family. I was determined my mother had so many!%u201D Granny%u2019s laughter fills the room after this sentence. %u201CI said not me!%u201D Her daughter Annella (only called Joe by those closest to her) described Granny and Levi%u2019s romance. %u201CHe could see her sitting outside on her porch. They courted and were soon married.%u201D

Levi%u2019s job took him all over the country. Says Granny, %u201CWe moved around all the time. I didn%u2019t have to do one thing!%u201D She grins. %u201CI had an easy time when I was married with him. I thought that was wonderful just to get to sit around until it was time to cook supper.%u201D

Annella Joe soon was old enough that Granny found she had more free time than she liked. %u201CAnnella Joe didn%u2019t keep me busy, she was up and in school before you knew it. I wanted something that wasenough to keep me busy, that%u2019s all I needed.%u201D Granny took a course and became a practical nurse, working in doctors%u2019 offices and hospitals for many years. %u201CI did it for a long time because I liked it.%u201D

Granny and Levi moved to Pensacola in their later years to be closer to Joe. Levi passed away soon after their arrival in Pensacola and Granny later remarried, becoming Mrs. Roberts. Now she is an unmistakable fixture of Council on Aging of West Florida%u2019s adult day health care center, The Retreat, and her charisma and sweetness have become intricately interwoven into its atmosphere.

Granny%u2019s 100 years have been filled with happiness and love. She puzzles, though, for a moment over the question regarding the secret to her long life. %u201CWell I can%u2019t answer that.%u201D She pauses and then continues. %u201CBut I can say that I go to church every Sunday that I can. I believe God takes care of us all.%u201D

From all of us at Council on Aging of West Florida, happy 100th birthday Granny!

By Keriann Smith, Development Intern

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