At 100 years, Alice Fernandez has not lost any of her quick wits. Her home was filled with family, all gathered to celebrate her milestone birthday on Monday.
She has five daughters, 19 grandchildren and more than 30 great-grandchildren (that’s where the counting stopped).
“I feel young again,” she joked.
Yesterday morning she had an interview on SABC 3’s Expresso Show.
Neighbours, friends and children dropped in to leave presents and steal an obligatory hug from her, while two bar tables were needed for the many birthday cards delivered, all inscribed with variations of 100.
Fernandez has been a constant presence at the Newlands East flats, having lived there for 40 years. She has outlived all of her original neighbours but has retained the love from their children.
“I am very grateful to have lived this long. There is no secret: I wake up everyday thank the Lord for keeping me another day, and I read the paper,” she said.
Fernandez is a daily subscriber to the Daily News and has been reading it for decades, said daughter Joan Holborn, 70.
“She has been reading the Daily News for as long as I have known her; it goes way back,” said Holborn, who lived with her mother.
“I do not take care of her; in fact, she takes care of me when I am sick,” she Holborn added.
At 100, Fernandez moves easily around the house, without a walker. She reads the paper without glasses and has a very sharp memory.
The home is situated on the third floor of a block without a lift, but that does not prevent Fernandez from going to church every Sunday.
Her best memory comes from 1937 when she married her husband, who has been dead for 35 years.
One of her grandsons remarked to Fernandez that “we must find you a husband now” and the whole house erupted in laughter.