Active, gratitude – secret to long life

Eileen Greenwood celebrates her 100th birthday.
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When you meet Eileen Greenwood, it’s hard to believe she recently celebrated her 100th birthday.

The centenarian has a sharp memory and is full of reminiscences about her younger years.

Eileen was born Eileen Lacey in Aylesbury, the youngest of four children.

‘‘We went to school by horse and gig. My brother, as boys do, drove it. He tried to jiggle it so the cart would tip up and we girls would fall out.

“He never did manage to tip us out. But he always said ‘Don’t tell mum!’’’

Her parents were farming and during the Depression they left the farm and moved to Doyleston.

On leaving school, Eileen worked around the district helping families, mums who were expecting a baby or had a baby and other children.

‘‘I would help look after the wee ones. I enjoyed all my working life.’’

Eileen Greenwood enjoys her 100th birthday at Radius Millstream.

Eileen meet her husband-to-be Colin at a dance.

‘‘I loved ballroom dancing and would attend about three dances a week,’’ she said.

‘‘I biked to dances in my long dress along shingle roads.

“The boys would ask how I could do that without catching my dress in the bike.

“The trick, you grab the dress from the back, pull it through to the front and pin it to your waist! When you got to the dance you just unpinned it.’’

Eileen believes overall, she would have only ever caught her dress a couple of times.

‘‘I didn’t have a lot of long dresses, only a few, so had to look after them.’’

Once married, Colin and Eileen lived and worked on Colin’s uncle Charlie Greenwood’s farm. When the farm was sold and they had to move.

They went to Southbridge for a couple of years where their first child was born.

Eileen remembers one house they lived in where there was no hot or cold water. Colin, being ‘‘such a clever man’’, installed these.

Eileen and the late Colin had three daughters and two sons. She moved from a rest-home in Leeston to a care facility in Ashburton in 2019 to be closer to her daughter.

She has seen many changes over her 100 years but thinks the two biggest have been the introduction of petrol and electricity.

She remembers as a child her mum attending to lamps, as they had no power.

‘‘The washing was done in a copper using elbow power, we cooked on a coal range.

‘‘When they married they didn’t have a car,’’ Eileen said.

Eileen believes keeping active would have been one of things that helped her reach 100.

‘‘We biked for miles on shingle roads. This kept us fit. My mum liked to get letters from my two sisters living in the North Island.

‘‘She would tell me to go to the post office, frequently to check for mail from them. It was a two-and-a-half mile bike ride to the post office.’’

‘‘Being thankful for what you have and being satisfied with life,’’ are other reasons Eileen believes she reached the centenary milestone.

For her, the birthday that saw her receive a card from the King and Queen and one from the Prime Minister, was ‘‘just another birthday’’.

Family and friends saw it differently, and celebrated the milestone with her at a large gathering.