Alta Neilson showing some of her dance moves after turning 100-years-young on Sunday.Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Oct 02, 2022 at 12:20

By Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Alta Neilson, whose mother was seven weeks shy of a 100, has broken her mom’s record and will be dancing into her 100th birthday on Sunday.

The lady in excellent health, has been living in a senior home on Shannex Drive, Quispamsis for the last 10 years. You might have to speak a little louder when around her, but being a little hard at hearing will not stop her witty replies from making you smile.

People at the senior home call her “the celebrity,” as she walks down the hallway at her senior home. Almost everybody knows about her crossing the milestone and she has been getting continuous greetings over the past few days, said her son Seward Neilson.

To live a long life, her advice is to “sleep good,” and “don’t smoke and don’t drink.”

The 100-year-old birthday girl has a love for dancing. Mom loves to dance “waltz and jitterbug,” said Seward Neilson.

“I love dancing, I still do. I dance with him,” she immediately added. “We dance lots.”

Neilson had a rough childhood, living in the rural community of Sisson Ridge, New Brunswick with her five brothers, two sisters and mother, said Seward Neilson.

He said she had lost her father at a very young age when he died of an infection with an axe while splitting wood. “There was no penicillin at that time.”

Growing up, she took care of her siblings and “loved to go to dances because she said it enabled her to forget about all the terrible things,” he added.

Alta Neilson, who has a simple routine now, was once an amazing cook, solved a lot of puzzles, and did “hours of quilting,” with her husband, said Seward Neilson, adding that they knew each other since childhood and at one point “played ball together.”

“He took care of mom” and because of the way he used the resources available to him “she was able to live in this for the past 10 years,” he said referring to the senior home.

According to Seward Neilson, his mom made beautiful pies and donuts which the family still misses.

“Oh yeah, coconut creme,” said Alta Neilson, “Not now, I quit. I retired from cooking.”

She is described as a kind, consistent, predictable and caring person by Seward Neilson. She has a ritual of getting her hair done every Friday and her fingernails done every six weeks, “which she really likes,” he added.

He said they will dance at her birthday party on Sunday, but “it won’t be quite as fast as it was 30 years ago.”

She has one remaining younger brother who is 90 years old, but she will be the first to hit a century in the family, he added.

With no other advice for good health, she again said “just go to sleep.” 

“Shut my eyes and the way I go,” said Alta Neilson.

Neilson does not like to be the centre of attention and said she isn’t excited about the party and “It will come.”

Even after 100 years, nothing has changed, “I still feel the same,” she said, “It’s just another day” and she likes to go with the flow without worrying about anything and always having a good sleep.

She has a family of three children, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, said Seward Neilson, since her childhood, until 11 years ago, she has always been with her husband and believes in always keeping the family together.

“She is the centre of focus for all of our family,” he said, “we model ourselves somewhat around that.”

Alta Neilson said she became friends with her husband around the age of 10 when he attended a school near her residence. She said they got married in 1942. “We were together from the time we were kids.”

They played ball together as kids and even “picked berries” growing together. 

“We had a lot to learn, believe me, but we stayed together, we fought it out.”

This item reprinted with permission from   Telegraph-Journal   Saint John, New Brunswick
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