Hundredth birthday with a touch of mischief

Louisa Alexander.

Steenberg resident Louisa Alexander sat like a queen in a pink dress in front of a table with a pink cake and pink decorations as she welcomed everyone who came to wish her for her 100th birthday.

Ms Alexander’s birthday was on Monday September 12, but her family postponed the celebration to Saturday September 17 because they wanted to give her a big party with all family members present.

As Southern Mail approached her pink table, Ms Alexander sat in a majestic pose, a friendly expression on her face, with all her children and children’s children and even their children’s children buzzing around her like the paparazzi.

Southern Mail joined the paparazzi and took a few pictures of the centenarian and her family.

Then the popular question was asked: what is her secret to a long life? “I never dance (party), nor do I smoke or drink,” said Ms Alexander.

According to her daughter, Hazel, who is also looking after her mother, Ms Alexander is an avid reader. “She reads the Bible, books or the newspaper, even if she has to bring it up close to her eyes,” said Hazel.

Although a little hard of hearing, her daughter Kathleen said Ms Alexander also loves to listen to the radio. When she was 98 she was found to have gall stones but as she was too old for those to be removed, she has to take medication.

According to her children and grandchildren, Ms Alexander makes a mean frikkadel every Sunday, and every Friday, she bakes her famous “kollewyntjies” (cupcakes).

When asked how she felt now that she had reached a century, Ms Alexander said: “I feel old,” with a twinkle in her eye.

Going down memory lane, Ms Alexander said she and her siblings were born and raised in Diep River by her parents, Isaac and Susan. “My father was a strict man, and he raised us to be good children,” she said.

“We were never allowed to play outside.”

The family later moved to Retreat. Ms Alexander met her late husband, Andrew, through his sister, Sophia, in Observatory.

“I didn’t take notice of him at first,” she said.

Her father, being a strict man, took one look at Mr Alexander and said: “Ek kan sien op sy voorkop dat hy is oraait” (I can see on his forehead that he is alright).

But there were strict rules in the house and visiting hours were cut short every time Mr Alexander came to “bok” (court).

Ms Alexander said: “My father had a specific sign to let us know that it was time for Andrew to go home. At 9pm, he would give a fake cough,” she smiled.

A little while after they got married, the couple moved to Steenberg, in 1960. Four daughters and three sons were born out of the marriage. “I also brought up my children the same way we were brought up,” said Ms Alexander.

Fortunately for Ms Alexander, her children followed her legacy and also gave their own children a strict upbringing with strong family values which shows as they always visit their beloved grandmother.

Glynis Davids, who had invited Southern Mail to the birthday party, revealed a little more about Ms Alexander.

“My granny remembers every grandchild and great-grandchild’s name. She is also very humorous. She may have behaved herself with Southern Mail,” she joked.

She recalled that earlier this year her granny had fallen and hurt her nose. She had let out a loud scream. “When she fell, my aunt, who was at the back of the house, didn’t hear her fall.

“But my granny, who knocked her nose against the door before she hit the floor, said ‘If I didn’t knock my nose I wouldn’t have screamed loud enough for them to hear me and they wouldn’t have found me on the floor’,”Ms Thomas chuckled.

She said it is tradition for their family to visit Ms Alexander’s house every Christmas. “Her rule was that no one opens presents before everyone is there.

And when all the children get together they make a big noise. We would ask them to keep quiet, but my granny would say, ‘Leave the kids and let them make a noise, it doesn’t bother me because I can’t hear them properly anyway’.”

Ms Alexander’s mischievous behaviour is obviously another secret to longevity.