Ninety-nine and counting. Mazo Modesitt celebrated her 99th birthday June 7, so she has less than a year to go to reach the century mark. But you won't find her sitting around, waiting.
This energetic, spirited, no nonsense, little grandma could probably best many women half her age. Although one of her sons, Richard, mows the lawn, Mazo takes care of her small vegetable garden and a variety of flowers. She still drives her Corsica Chevrolet around town. Her home is spotless and the Knightsville resident still does her own cooking. But with all of that, she devotes much of her time to helping others.
Mazo has been a volunteer at the St. Vincent Clay Hospital Auxiliary Gift Shop for more than 10 years. She likes to sew and has made 118 lap robes for nursing home residents in the last two years.
The Jackson Township Better Homes Home Ec. Club just celebrated their 67th Anniversary. Mazo has been a member for 65 of those years. The club recently finished making a hanging wall quilt that will be entered in the 4-H Fair. Twelve different members, including Mazo, made a block for the decorative cover.
Each one gets to display the blue and white quilt in her home for a month. In honor of her birthday, however, Mazo was given the quilt first and gets to keep it until the Fair in late July.
Besides her home, the most important thing to Mazo is involvement in her church, the Union United Methodist Church on Airport Road. Over the years, the devoted congregant has been a pianist and Sunday School teacher. Though she has turned those duties over to the younger women, Mazo is still very active in the church's ladies organization.
"I believe in prayer," she said. "Church is a very, very important part of my life."
A widow for the past 30 years, Mazo raised six children including three stepchildren. She has 11 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. Though just two of her children still live in Clay County, the family remains close.
"We stay in touch all the time," Mazo said. "They visit often and we talk on the phone frequently."
When asked what she attributed her longevity to, Mazo pondered a while then said, "Keeping active, trying to help others and just having a positive outlook on life.
"I've always had an outlook of, forget yourself and think of others. Just don't feel sorry for yourself. I've had my ups and downs, everybody does. But you have to look on the bright side of life."
Mazo said she's never smoked then was asked if she ever drank.
"Not what I shouldn't drink," she laughed. "I drink a lot of water but not intoxicating alcohol."
The trim, sprightly, white haired lady said she has never dieted.
"I just try to eat sensibly. My weight stays practically the same all the time.
"Don't make this too flowery in the Brazil paper," she said, laughing, "cause people will say, 'who is that person they're talking about?'"
Mazo's habits and up-beat, positive attitude apparently have paid off. She remains fairly healthy.
"I feel pretty good," she said. "But I don't get around as good as I used to. I used to walk a couple miles every day or so with one of my neighbors. I can't do that any more. I do still try to ride a stationary bike about five days a week."
Mazo seems to have no major health concerns except, "I try to solve the problems of the world sometimes at night," she chuckled. "I don't get them solved, but it can keep me awake trying."
Tomorrow: Mazo talks about how the world has changed in her lifetime.