HELEN H. AGE 99
I have been at Gates Manor for a little over a year. Before that, I lived in my own home and then, after my husband died, with my daughter, Cathy. I sold my house to one of my first grade students! I have lived in Clifton for my entire life until I came here.
I worked before my daughter was born, stayed home for a bit when she was small, and then went back to work when she was in second grade. I have had a good life. During most of my life, my happiness came from my daughter and the children I taught. I still keep in touch with many of my students. I have been to their weddings and they take me out sometimes. When my husband died, the students were there for me.
I remember them so well. I could tell you where they sat, what their names were, and if they were well behaved or not. When I taught school there was a family that had three girls, and the three girls used to go to their garden, pick beautiful wildflowers, and bring them to me after school. Sometimes they would come with their mother and play the piano for me. When one of them was about to get married, I had them all over the house and had a tea party for them.
I never expected to live to 100. I think my mother would be very proud of me! She died when I was a little girl, so my brothers and sisters brought me up. My family was very close. Every Sunday we were at someones house having dinner.
Living at the Gates Manor is all right. But there is nothing like your
own home. My life is pretty boring right now; I dont get out much.
I know some of the people here, but I dont bother with them too
much. I used to read a lot when I taught school, but not so much now.
But my daughter comes to visit me every day, and this gives me great peace
I had a lot of experiences in my life. I often relive them. All of the things I did come back to me easily. They feel so real; it is as though the past is right there in front of me. I have many nice memories. There is so much in life that you can take and enjoy. So many things that are meaningful.
I am the only one left of my siblings. I have one friend who is still alive, but it is hard to see her because my legs are not strong. I have a strong mind, but my legs have to get stronger.
I think about my religion more than I used to. But I was always very active in my religion. Now my faith has gotten stronger and I feel that I am not alone. We were all a very good Catholic family.
When I think back on my life, I realize that I have been very satisfied with it overall. I always had good common sense and thought things out very clearly, even to this day. I dont look back and wish I had done anything differently. I had a good life. There were hard times but the good made up for the bad.
I feel that people were a lot happier in the past because we looked out for each other. Today our families are far apart. Even though it was difficult to live through the Depression, I feel like I was lucky because of my close family life. I also loved teaching. I learned a lot, and was glad I kept in touch with the students.
My advice to young people is: Whatever you do, do it well. And when you see a person who needs help, you must help them. They may need your help, but they will never ask you for it.