With an endearing smile, Wilhemina Jansen waved at and greeted her guests at a celebration of her 100th birthday last week.
The centenarian, also fondly known as Ousie, sat behind a table at her Hillary Avenue home in Lavender Hill home while family and friends wished her and sang for her on Thursday March 18. This year’s celebrations were far different than those of the previous years because Covid-19 safety precautions had to be taken to keep Ms Jansen and the rest of the family safe – so the church and family organised a drive-by celebration.
Alwina Carney from the Old Apostolic Church in Lavender Hill, where Ms Jansen is a devout congregant, said Ms Jansen had been in the church for as long she could remember.
“My father is the priest at the church and she has always been part of the church community. We decided to celebrate her and to honour and acknowledge her as the oldest member of our church.
“Personally I don’t know anyone who is 100 years old so for us as a church it is a blessing to have sister Jansen so we wanted to celebrate her life. She’s full of life and looks amazing. She hasn’t aged over the past few decades,” said Ms Carney.
Ms Jansen’s only surviving son Joseph Jansen, 69, said his mother’s life had been anything but easy.
The family lived in a small town in the Northern Cape between Kimberley and Upington called Postmasburg before Ms Jansen moved to Cape Town in the early 60s to find work and a better life for her children.
She was a single parent to 10 children and worked two jobs while the children stayed with their maternal grandparents. She was only able to visit her children over weekends.
More than 50 years ago Ms Jansen moved to the house in Lavender Hill where she could be with her family.
“My eldest siblings couldn’t finish school and they had to start working when they were young to support the family,” said Mr Jansen.
Ms Jansen’s only surviving children are three daughters and Joseph but she has many grand-great grand-great, great grand and great, great, great grand children – so many in fact that the family have lost track.
Mr Jansen described his mother as hard working, tenacious and strict.
“She has very high morals and she is very spiritual. She would get up every morning at 5am to pray for her children and the rest of the family but as time went the list grew shorter because she has a bit of memory loss,” he said.
Ms Jansen is healthy, except for her hearing and a bad knee, but she still writes letters and reads newspapers. Her chores list has also become a lot shorter because she doesn’t cook or do laundry anymore but she refuses to be idle so she still makes up her own bed, washes and dresses herself.
Ms Jansen said she was happy to celebrate her 100th birthday with her family and friends and said God and prayers are the driving force behind her.