The Secret to Living a Long and Happy Life at 105: Faith and Family

T.D. by herself

We have all lived through what feels to be 100 years over the course of the past 12 months. The day-to-day challenges of navigating a global health crisis and adapting to entirely new ways of living has undoubtedly aged us in some way.

Imagine living through two pandemics, two World Wars along with several other wars and military conflicts, and still having so many happy memories to reminisce upon when celebrating 105 years of life! It’s all about perspective, according to one Concordia family member.

For Good Samaritan Hospice (GSH) patient Thelma Dickerson, who turned 105 years young in January of this year, health crises and wars are temporal – patience and faith are everlasting.

“The most important historical moment of my lifetime was when I gave my heart to the Lord. I became a Christian at a young age which has helped to guide me through the tough parts of life.”

Thelma attributes her faith as having a major impact on her longevity and also believes that her strong work ethic led her to living a full and happy life.

“I worked many jobs in my life. Working and earning a living are very important to me. During World War II, I went to Philadelphia and worked in the factories. Some of my other jobs were working in a bicycle shop and as a seamstress. Additionally, I worked as a secretary at Cornell School district and taught junior high children how to make hats. I was also the church secretary at my church.”

The advice Thelma has for the generations who follow her is the same advice she would give her younger self if she had the opportunity.

“I would have been more obedient to my parents. My advice to the next generation is to also be obedient to your parents and elders. And, get a job so you can save your money!”

For Thelma’s birthday, our GSH team celebrated her milestone year with balloons, flowers and conversation. Ryan Tappe, GSH Medical Social Worker, Diane Satter, CNA/CHPNA, GSH Hospice Aide, and Thelma’s niece and primary caregiver Anita Tucker were on-hand to celebrate Thelma’s 105th year and hear some of her favorite memories.

“One of my best memories is my wedding on May 29, 1951,” Thelma told them. “It was a big wedding with lots of family. I have many pictures in an album from my wedding.”

She continued, “Another great memory is going to Hawaii with my friend. It was beautiful there. I brought back materials from Hawaii to make a dress, and not only did I make it, but I wore it on my 100th birthday!”

Family has been an important part of Thelma’s life from early on, and lending her caregiving talents was a natural response and one that filled her with purpose.

“I helped to raise my younger brothers when they were growing up. When I was a teenager, I would babysit children in my neighborhood. I never had children of my own, but I had a stepdaughter.”

Now, her extended GSH hospice family is lending their caregiving talents to ensure that she continues to experience the highest quality of life during her end-of-life journey.  

“She honestly has only slightly slowed up in the past three years that she has been on our service line,” Ryan told us. “If you met her, you would think she was in her 80s!”

For more information on the services provided through Good Samarian Hospice, a mission of Concordia, call us at 724-933-8888 (GSH) or contact us any time via our online contact form.

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