“You’re probably the oldest person in town,” shouts a caregiver to Dr. Choon Law.
Law is hard of hearing, but that’s to be expected.
He did just turn 105.
“It’s just luck,” Law said of his longevity. “I didn’t do anything different than you people – three meals a day, snacks, lots of fruit and nuts.”
Despite his age, Law is in quite good health. He eats well, sleeps well, has a strong voice, and can still walk using his walker.
Law was born in Salak South, Malaysia on March 6, 1915. He was the ninth of 16 children, and is the only one of his siblings still alive.
He came to Canada in the 1950s and worked at Coqualeetza Indian Hospital starting around 1953. The hospital operated as a tuberculosis sanatorium, and then a general hospital, for Indigenous people.
He later worked at a clinic in Nanaimo and an Indigenous hospital in Prince Rupert. It was there in Prince Rupert where he met his wife Hylda. She was a nurse.
The two of them got married “about” 60 years ago (Law can’t remember exactly how long ago it was), and they returned to Chilliwack where he continued to work at Coqualeetza Hospital until it closed in 1969.
He’s quite fond of Chilliwack – it’s been a place he’s called home for decades.
“It’s a very peaceful place,” he said. “I love it here.”
The two never had children, but their home was a place where they were happy and grew old together. Hylda died last year on Oct. 5 at the age of 98, but even then, the two of them were living at home. They had 24-hour care, but it was still in the comforts of their own place.
Law still lives at home with round-the-clock care. “The girls,” as Law calls them, are all really good to him. A smile comes across his face when there’s a shift change and the current caregiver lets him know who the next friendly face is that just walked through his door.
He is blind in his right eye and has very limited vision in his left, so he can’t distinguish who’s in the room with him.
His left hand, paralyzed, is rigid and looks arthritic, but he’s still able to lift up his arm to place his left thumb on the upper lid of his left eye and pull it open to see visitors and “the girls.” He can’t see details, but rather light and shadows.
Although he’s almost totally blind and has problems hearing, he still feels positive about life.
“I feel good… I think I can see another birthday without trouble,” he said as a star-shaped “happy birthday” balloon, tied to a piece of orange ribbon, dances gently above his head tapping a shelf holding a handful of birthday cards.
March 6 was Law’s birthday party. It was a small gathering of neighbours and friends.
“I told them not to come. It’s not a big deal,” Law said.
But they did come because, of course, it’s not every day someone turns 105.
“They just came in and had a drink, but I don’t drink,” Law said. “I had a piece of cake.”
He’s a firm believer in eating well. Law, unlike his wife Hylda, is not picky at all when it comes to food.
“To sustain life you have to eat, sleep.”
He has a feeling he’s going to be around for a while yet and is confident he’ll see his 106th birthday.
“Yeah, I’ll be around next year on my birthday. I don’t think I’ll die in the near future. I don’t know why, I just don’t. The devil hasn’t called me yet, maybe they don’t have a place for me.”
In the meantime, Law has full plans to continue right on living, eating and sleeping for a long time to come – even past his 106th birthday.
But when March 6, 2021 arrives, he has a message to his pals.
“The main thing is, no gifts on my birthday. I don’t want people spending their money. I don’t want anything, I have everything I want.”
Well, maybe another piece of cake.