Few people live long enough to be the guest of honour at their hundredth birthday celebration. But Campbell River’s Charlotte Allerton took part in three of them last week as she marked a century of life with friends and family.
“I’ll be glad when it comes to an end,” she quipped during the first celebration, held last Thursday at the Adult Care day centre in Willow Point.
With more than 30 residents, guests and family members in attendance, Allerton was seated at a balloon-festooned table, beneath a colourful banner reading “Happy 100th Birthday”. As guests broke into a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday to you, staff at the centre wheeled out a brightly decorated cake that featured a figurine of a woman pushing a walker.
Allerton was flanked on either side of her table by her daughter, Gerri Burgess, and granddaughter Karen Nessel.
“I hope I’ve got her genes,” quipped Nessel, who said additional family celebrations were planned for Allerton on Saturday and Sunday.
Though she needs assistance to walk, Allerton was bright and alert throughout the party, and showed a fine sense of humour.
When program worker Andrea Marshall asked for one vivid memory that pops into her head when she thinks of the last 100 years, Allerton paused, then mentioned the snow that covered the mountains where she lived as a young girl.
“Do you miss it?” Marshall asked.
“No,” Allerton answered promptly. “But it popped into my head when you asked.”
After nurse administrator Pam Mann led Allerton onto the floor for a brief birthday dance — to Frank Sinatra’s Embraceable You — Allerton returned to her chair with a sigh of relief.
“That was a real workout,” she said.
Allerton was born Feb. 15, 1915, in Dayton, Wash. She moved to Canada with her family when she was five years old, and has been in Campbell River for the past 20 years. She has been attending the Adult Day Program here for the past 10 years, said Mann, and enjoys crochet and knitting.
The secret to her longevity, Allerton said, was “Walking. Lots of walking.”
As far as the key to remaining happy for so many years?