Two Victorian women recall a century they spent in their Wellesley home.
Eula Johnson and Eleanor Pattison speak to a room of peers eager to learn the secrets of longevity and celebrate advanced age on Nov. 10 Share their experiences as centenarians.
At 105, Johnson credits her age to exercise and a focus on health, as well as moderation in all things.
Both women have spoken about their passion for physical activity and sports, including everything from bowling and golf to basketball and baseball, and even just regular walks.
“Everywhere I go — a guy on the road tells me I’m going to wear the road out,” Johnson said.
Both women are very active, with Johnson exercising every day and Pattison, 103, taking daily walks with her best friend, who also happens to live to be 100.
Aside from staying active, another thread that knits these two women together is their preference to go with the flow rather than plan their lives.
None of them had a specific goal of pursuing a specific career, but chose to go with the opportunities that came their way. Johnson worked as a typist for most of his life, while Pattison worked as an operator. However, taking care of themselves and their families is their top priority.
Spontaneity and a sense of adventure also bond the two women with their husbands.
Johnson can’t remember how she and her husband came to be a couple, or why she chose him over her other boyfriends, of whom she has many.
As for how Pattison decided her husband was special enough to marry?
“He asked me, I guess.”
Johnson and Pattison have lived at The Wellesley for almost nine years, and friends have come and gone during their time at home, but they still think the people are the best thing about living there.
Like life, bad things come with good things.
As for the downsides of living more than 100 years, the two talked about the difficulties of not having a loved one.
“I was 94 when I came here,” Johnson said. “I can’t name one thing I love about it, but I just love being here. The people are great, but they’re almost all gone.”
As for what helped them get through tough times in their lives — from depression to the COVID-19 pandemic — the duo offered different answers based on their experiences.
Pattison, whose husband’s early death in her marriage prompted her to live as a single parent, simply said, “guts, I guess,” as if sheer courage had allowed her to live to 103 age.
For Johnson, it’s the people she meets along the way that keep her grounded and focused.
Of course, the lows in life are shaped by the highs, and luckily, both women were racking their brains to come up with a memorable moment.
“I think living your life is one of the best things,” Pattison said.
While the mundane, everyday life seems to be what they cherish most, both women agree that they remember very vividly the moment they heard the end of World War II.
“I was having a baby,” Johnson recalls. “It was a great feeling when the war ended. We lost a lot of people in our town.”
Pattison also expressed her relief that most of the boys she knew were back and paused to reflect on the ones who didn’t.
From getting married – which both women consider “so-so” – to having children (and finding them a good nanny), Johnson and Pattison sift through their countless memories for wisdom that can be passed on to other generations bullion.
“What’s the biggest thing I’ve learned in life? I’d tell them to do what they’re doing — and they’re doing it well,” Pattison said.
As for what qualities these two women have developed during their time on this earth, it’s fair to say they have an incredible sense of humor and drive.
Asked what the title of their book of life would be, Pattison said “God knows,” while her viewer friends echoed “Eleanor: Survivor.”
As for Johnson, her book will be titled “Go for it.”
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