So I walk in to give blood. I grew a bit alarmed, a little uncertain with what I saw.
There on the front row and next in line sat Maude Brown of North Elkin. I strained to recall what I knew about the rules for donating blood. Maude’s 99 years old. And I finally had to ask somebody. Is she going to give blood?
“Oh, no, she’s just here to greet everyone” came the satisfying response.
Suddenly, up came Phil Simmons of Thurmond. Phil’s old enough to retire but still young enough to be Maude’s grandson (though he’s not).
Phil embraced the senior star of the blood drive, gave Maude a peck on the cheek and whispered in her ear, “I love you.”
Maude Brown has that effect on people. With a broad smile and arms ready to reach for a hug, she dispenses her special formula of cheer all around, including at the Cardiac Rehabilitation office at Chatham Hospital in Elkin where she’s a weekly volunteer.
They’re throwing a 100th birthday reception for Maude on Saturday. Her birthday will be the following Monday.
Folks from as far away as Detroit and Idaho are coming to Fairfield Inn in North Elkin to get a glimpse of Maude’s million-dollar smile, share one of those warm hugs and toast a century of a special lady among us. Five years ago at the Fairfield, Maude had 250 come to her 95th birthday party.
Maude’s a rare, living link to an earlier generation that lived a radically different, an unrecognizably simpler way of life here in the hometown area.
She and her peers grew up during the Roaring Twenties and came of age as survivors of the Great Depression. They sent their men off to World War II and were rewarded with astounding technological and other advancements in the 1950s and ’60s.
Maude told me of growing up as one of 10 children on a farm in Traphill. Her job as a girl was to milk the cows — by hand. Folks ate what they could grow. There was no electricity. Kids who had school lessons at night had to do them by fireplace light. Kids got one pair of shoes a year. They slept on large pillows of stuffed straw called ticks. There was no bathroom. There was not even an outdoor privy, you just found a secluded spot.
While her husband, Lonnie, was off to war, Maude left her Benham home to stay with her sister and hope for the best and patiently wait for the world to be made right.
She stands ready to tell you and me if we’ll listen how she did it over this past century, and how we youngsters coming up should be doing it. She’s an advocate of healthy living.
“I lived right,” she told me. “I ate right. I get my sleep. And I exercise.” At her apartment, where she lives independently, she uses three-pound barbell weights as well as an exercise pulley to work her arms and upper body. She does leg lifts and hand stretching while sitting. She stood and touched her toes for me.
She scolded me for crossing my legs. Bad for blood circulation. “Don’t drink a carbonated drink. Not one,” Maude added. Eat fruits and vegetables, she said. She did admit to imbibing Bragg apple cider vinegar, a health beverage.
Her advice: “You’ve got to be positive. Stay positive and sweet.” And love the Lord.
Maude’s philosophy and her volunteer work, which includes quilting and making baby dresses to give away, has earned her quite a following around town.
Her daughter Pat Luffman, a neighbor here in State Road, said she’s amazed at the number of apparent strangers who come up to Maude when they’re out and about.
“I told her you’re not supposed to know people I don’t know,” Pat chuckled.
So whenever you’re feeling down and grumpy, when the aches and pains are getting to you, just go over to Cardiac Rehab and pay a visit to centenarian Maude Brown. She’s not a doctor. But she just might have the formula for what ails you.
Maude, lead on. And happy 100th birthday.
On the radio: WBT radio host Sheri Lynch answered my question on the air last week on Donald Trump. You can hear the audio at http://www.wbt.com/media/audio-channel/sheri-lynch-fills-hancock (@33:34).
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.