Life’s lessons, 100 years on

For a woman who's about to turn 100, Viola Manery is surprisingly independent.

Viola Manery turns 100 on June 17.

Viola Manery turns 100 on June 17.

For a woman who’s about to turn 100, Viola Manery is surprisingly independent.

Up until October 2013, at the age of 98, she was still living by herself in her own house in Keremeos, cooking her own meals, keeping busy with friends, and playing bridge.

Not much has changed since her move to Auburn Retirement Residence in Chilliwack a year and a half ago. It’s not an assisted-living residence, but they do offer meals, even though Manery’s apartment has a full kitchen that she uses every day.

Manery has lived in B.C. her whole life. She was born in Merritt, moved to Penticton, then to Keremeos for 70 years, and finally to Chilliwack.

“My childhood was very pleasant. I don’t remember anything bad about it,” she says.

Being the youngest of five children by nine years, she spent a lot of one-on-one time with her mother as her siblings left home or entered their teenage years. She has fond memories of going to church every Sunday with her mother.

In 1939, she married Frank Manery who was 20 years older than she.

“But you’d never know it,” she says. “He was very good-looking and it was love at first sight. When he told me how old he was, I couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t a complainer, and he was always well dressed and put together. It was really a love match.”

Frank and Viola had two kids, Richard and Joan.

In the 1940s, they moved to Keremeos and bought a 10-acre fruit orchard. To say her life was busy on the orchard and in the community is an understatement.

She’d pick fruit and pack fruit. She ran two fruit stands, and kept up with the garden. She preserved countless jars every year of the fruit  they grew and made pies from every one of them on the farm — peaches, apricots, pears, apples, cherries, and strawberries.

She was president of the Anglican church women’s group for 40 years, involved with the Royal Canadian Legion ladies’ auxiliary, and got her fifty-year pin for her time with the Royal Purple Lodge.

Manery stayed active by swimming, dancing, and walking — lots of walking. She never had her driver’s licence, so she’d walk downhill into town to run errands and to get to appointments, and uphill back home again on a regular basis.

After Frank died in 1985, she remained active.

“I was still busy doing things. I always had so much support, like friends who would drive me places,” she says.

“Mom has a lot of confidence in herself,” says daughter Joan Tremblay. She’s a social butterfly, she adds.

“Mom is never short of words — she can talk at the drop of a hat. She has a pretty good outlook on life.”

“If I have something wrong with me, I want to see the doctor. If I have a worry, I want to fix it,” she says sensibly.

Manery is a breast cancer survivor of 21 years, but aside from that, she has had very few medical problems. She owes it all to the “good doctors” she’s had throughout the years.

On June 20, her family is having a 100th birthday party for her at the Auburn residence.

Everyone is going to write down and bring a memory of Viola and put it into a keepsake book for her, says her daughter.

So what’s her secret to living to be 100?

“You just keep going and try to look on the positive side of things,” she says.