Cloverleaf Healthcare residents and staff members recently joined three incredible women to celebrate their lives and memories.
Although her birthday was on Sunday, Feb. 1, family, friends, fellow residents and staff members surrounded Ruth Miller as she blew out three number candles on a large birthday cake in the facility's activity room.
"I didn't think I'd live so long," Miller said about her 102nd birthday. "Not exactly sure what I did in order to live so long, but I'm here. I'm just grateful there's not 102 candles on the cake."
Residents Mazo Modesitt, who celebrates her 104th birthday in June, and Lucille Torr, who will turn 103, also in June, celebrated with Miller, although it was their first time meeting each other. Facility administrators said the three women have been living at the facility for a while, but participate in different schedules that hadn't allowed them the opportunity to get to know each other.
While enjoying cake and punch, they shared memories of the "good 'ole days" and talked about what made families and communities strong.
"There was more togetherness back then," Modesitt said. "I think the big reasons for that was because families worked together to survive and they ate at the dinner table."
While Modesitt and Torr grew up in rural Clay County, Miller grew up in Brazil during the Great Depression.
"There wasn't any partying going on, we didn't have time for it," Miller said. "We worked together to survive and saved everything and anything that we could to get by."
While city and country living had many similarities -- like sewing your own clothes, reusing items and doing chores -- there were more opportunities to do them on a farm.
"That's true," Torr said. "We kept and found a way to use everything over and over again. Guess we were recycling way before it was called that."
All three of the women said it was a tough time for families, but the struggle to survive taught an invaluable lesson to those who lived through the Great Depression.
"I just hope that there's not another one," Torr said.
"No one had idle hands," Modesitt said. "There was always something to do."
"It wasn't easy. There were lots of times we were glad to have a home to live in," Miller said. "But through it all, we knew we had family. I have faith that people will live through hard times again when they come. We have survived them before. Always have and we always will."
Although there have been some incredible technological marvels in the past 100 years, the women didn't seem to be all that impressed. Torr wasn't able to think of anything that "wowed" her.
"We would watch some television," Miller said. "But I prefer to read any day."
"I like planes," Modesitt said. "I was able to visit my son in the military and attend his wedding in Europe because of planes."
"We traveled, but we always came home to Clay County," Miller said. "Didn't think about it then, and I guess I don't really know why, other than Clay County is a nice place to live."
Agreeing, Torr said she felt churches in the area and the Christian values of the residents made Clay County special.
"I loved this place. The people were good and they had morals and values," Modesitt said. "I was glad to live here."
When asked about the problems now facing Clay County and the United States, the women confessed they don't know what to think.
"I have faith in the President," Miller said about the national issues. "I have faith in our people. I believe we will make it through and become a better nation."
At the local level, Modesitt had the last word.
"Any place, anywhere, can be a good place to live," Modesitt said. "But it's all up to you and what you do while you're there that determines what kind of place it becomes."