Goldie Nielsen sits in her armchair watching her great-great grandson Johnathan play on the living room floor. He smiles at her, shyly, but evades her attempts for a cuddle. He goes back to doing those things one-year-olds enjoy – scaling the furniture, examining drink coasters and generally being adorable.
Nielsen laughs as she watches him play. They are the furthest apart in age, in this family that spans five generations, but she watches him with love and adoration. And when her granddaughter brings her birthday balloons, she laughs some more and immediately shows Johnathan, too.
“Look at the balloons I’m having!” she calls to him, shaking them above her head.
But by then, Nielsen’s townhouse is filled to the brim with people, presents, flowers and cards, and Johnathan’s attention is waning.
But this is a moment that the youngster is very lucky to be part of. It’s Monday, April 16, 2012, and it is his great-great grandmother’s 100th birthday.
It’s a milestone Nielsen never thought she’d see herself.
“I’m the only one in family on both sides that has reached the 100,” she says. “And they’ve all gone before me.”
But her home was filled with family and friends throughout the afternoon on Monday, a home that even at 100, she is able to keep herself.
“I do my own housework,” she says, and she is well able to get around the two-story townhouse herself.
For a quarter of her life, Nielsen worked in Chilliwack hospital, first as a ‘green girl’ and then as a ‘blue girl,’ and working her way up to nurse’s aide. When she retired, she stayed home with her husband and delved into artwork, painting most of the china in the display cases in her home, painting and drawing the framed worked that adorns the walls, and creating keepsake presents for the very family that came to visit on Monday. He passed away in the late ‘80s, and Nielsen never remarried.
“I never found anyone else good enough,” she says, with a smile.
She’s lived for 20 years in Agassiz, and attributes her long life to two simple words: “Good living.”