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Take the good with the bad, says South Cariboo centenarian

The good wins out, says Claudine Henderson of her 100th

The year Claudine Henderson was born, insulin was used to treat diabetes for the first time; the first baseball game was played at Yankee Stadium; and the first transatlantic radio broadcast took place.

The former resident of Lac la Hache celebrated her 100th birthday on Sept. 24 with more personal events on her mind.

“I had a good life, the good with the bad,” she said in an interview a few days after her family gathered to celebrate with her at Fischer Place in 100 Mile. “The good took over.”

Henderson smiled as she pointed to a photo of her family. While her children and grandchildren do not all live as close to her as she might like they are all good to her and have done well for themselves, she said.

“They all like me, I think,” she laughed, adding that the little ones like their photo taken with Granny.

Born in Haute Aboujagane, New Brunswick, in 1923, Henderson comes from a large farming family. While there wasn’t much money they were happy, she said.

“I remember I had a pair of shoes. There was a hole coming and I went and made little tickets, five cents each. And I had a little camera that was given to me for a birthday present from my godfather,” she said. “I went from one house to the other, sold those tickets and made enough money to buy myself a pair of shoes.” She was around 10-12 years old at the time.

She doesn’t think there is anyone who can say their life was perfect. You get over it and take the good with the bad, she said.

Known as Nannie to the family, Henderson is the centre they all revolve around.

In the announcement of her 100th birthday, it said that life was not easy for Henderson “but her love for family and faith made her the exceptional lady she is today.”

People have told her she is a strong person, a fact Henderson is hesitant to acknowledge.

“I don’t feel that I’m stronger than anybody else. I just feel that I done the best I could,” she said.

As was common at the time, she married young, in 1942. When her husband of 13 years, Myron, moved to B.C. to pursue work as a faller, Henderson followed him out the next year with six children in tow.

Her seventh and final child was born in 1958.

She lost her oldest child, Bobby, in a car accident in 1966. Two years later, her husband was killed in a logging accident when a tree fell on him, leaving her with four boys to raise on her own, the two girls being married by then.

With the children to look after, she had no choice but to move on, she said.

“I just worked and took it one day at a time.”

She devoted her life to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and while she had friends over the years she never had a desire to get serious and get remarried. It would have changed the way she was looking after her family, she said.

“When your kids are good and they all do well, what else do you want.”

Henderson moved to Kamloops in 2002 to be closer to doctors and her two daughters. A survivor of breast cancer discovered in her eighties, she recently moved back home and now lives at Fischer Place in 100 Mile House.

The celebration for her 100th birthday was not a big one, just a bunch of her friends and family and three cakes, one of them big enough to get passed around, she said, drawing a giant cake in the air.

Looking out the window, she noted what a pretty day it was.

“I don’t have no complaints,” she said.

Henderson said she is content to leave this life when it is time.

“I’m dying happy,” she said. “I got a hundred years now. I’m 100 years old.”