Faith and kindness key to 100 years

Jean Carroll, a resident at Hinton Continuing Care, celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by friends and family on Nov. 18.
Masha Scheele Photo

Masha Scheele

Jean Carroll’s great-granddaughter sat beside her during her birthday party and reminded her that she just turned 100.

Though Carroll can’t remember the number of her age due to dementia, her family was happy to be celebrating with her. 

“I have to tell her that I’m her daughter when I visit, she doesn’t remember who I am. But that’s OK, we just enjoy her for as long as we got her,” said her daughter Chris Munro, who lives in Hinton.

Carroll is the first to celebrate a 100th birthday in the family, as far as her two daughters could remember. They believe the secret to her long life was her overall happiness, generosity, faith, and kindness to others. 

“She had her faith, but she also has a very big heart, anything she did she always did something for other people,” said daughter Billie Carroll.

“Wherever she lived she always volunteered to help with people with developmental issues and she’s a very special person,” she added.

Jean Carroll had a way of caring about others that was unique, said Billie. Billie stayed with her mom when her dementia issues first began and she remembered taking the bus with her and watching her mom talk to each person on the bus. 

“She just asked them what they’re doing and how they’re doing, she would know someone and ask how’s your daughter or how’s your son. She was a very special person that way, very caring about other people,” said Billie.

Munro added that their mother continues to do this even throughout her dementia. Her daughters agreed that their mother would often claim she wasn’t very outgoing, but they both felt that wasn’t the case. 

Great-granddaughter Jillian Friesen added that the biggest lesson learned from her great-grandma is to always be happy.

“She’s always happy,” she said. “I never leave here without getting kisses on my hand.”

Carroll was born in Tillsonburg, Ontario, just like her own parents, her husband and her two daughters.

She married her husband in 1941 and worked throughout the war years in the poultry industry and an old folks home.

After living in different areas, as her husband worked in the navy, they eventually settled in Saskatoon in the 1960s, where she stayed until moving to Hinton in 2006. While in Saskatoon she worked as a dietary specialist in the kitchen of a hospital.

“She was getting some dementia issues and then she came here. She first went to Pine Valley Lodge until 2014 and then she came to [the Hinton continuing care centre],” said Munro.

Canada had 10,795 centenarians as of July 1 of this year, topping 10,000 for the first time. That number that has tripled since 2001. With a higher life expectancy for women, the vast majority – 82 per cent – of centenarians are women.