Craig resident shows spirit as she reaches 100 years |

Craig resident shows spirit as she reaches 100 years

Bridget Manley

The Rev. John S. Turner, pastor at Faith Lutheran Church, presents Hilda Schmidt with a stuffed bear from his congregation.

Ask Hilda Schmidt the secret to living a long life and she’ll deny that there is one.

“I have no secret,” she said, a rainbow of Mardi Gras beads strung around her neck.

All the same, if there was a trick to seeing a century full of life, it wouldn’t be hard to believe Hilda had found it.

On Thursday afternoon, members of Hilda’s family and fellow Sandrock Ridge Care & Rehab residents were grouped around tables in the facilities’ dining room, some clapping their hands and singing as local musicians played a parade of hits, including “Pretty Woman” and “All My Exes Live in Texas.”

And, near the back, Hilda sat in her wheelchair, bead-bedecked, singing along and apparently loving every minute of it.

The celebration was in honor of Schmidt’s 100th birthday. Her son and daughter-in-law, Delbert and Georgia Schmidt, sat near her.

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“You better enjoy this one,” Delbert said, “because I don’t believe another one – another 100. Really enjoy this one.”

One pair of well wishers sent a letter to Hilda to congratulate her.

“You have led a remarkable life, and your experiences have contributed to the strength of our Nation,” the bold, calligraphic script on the plain, white page read. “We join your family and friends in wishing you all the best on your special day.”

Signed, George and Laura Bush.

Presidential greetings aside, Hilda’s birthday was also a reminder that time takes its toll on those who are lucky enough to see a century pass.

Hilda has outlived her husband, Alex, two daughters and one son. She and Delbert are the last of the family, he said.

“I always told everyone I was going to outlive her, but I’m not sure I can do that now,” Delbert said.

Seeing his mother turn 100 elicits a spectrum of emotions for Delbert. On one end, it makes him feel old, he said.

Yet, at the same time, it makes him proud.

“She’s been a very hard-working woman,” Delbert said. “She was a wonderful wife to her husband, and she’s been a great mother to her children.

“She surely knew all her life what was right and what was wrong.”

Hilda vividly remembers pieces of her life, such as helping her father plow wheat on their farm and watching Lawrence Welk on her first TV set in the 1960s.

Sometimes, she forgets.

“But, at 100 years old, you can expect that,” Delbert said. “I hope that (at) 100 years old, my mind is as good as hers yet.”

Age didn’t seem to have worn the edge off Hilda’s personality as Delbert jumped in to describe his mother.

“She’s meaner than a” Delbert said with a playful gleam in his eye.

Hilda cut him short.

“Delbert!” she said, sharply.

“There are times when she gets a little irritable,” Georgia said.

Still,”Essentially, she’s a people person,” she said.

That side of Hilda’s character came out as she took Georgia’s hands in her own, which were covered with red, knit gloves.

Hilda said turning 100 doesn’t feel any different.

“I love my son and daughter (in-law) just like I always have,” she said.

And, time hasn’t made Hilda surrender her individuality, either.

“I’m just me and that’s it,” Hilda said.