A Miraculous Century
"Everyone asks my secret," declared Hazel Burger, as we settled on her lovely screened porch highlighted by a happy bubbling fountain and colorful flowers. The light in her eyes reflected her energetic spirit and love of life. "I'm not sure there are any secrets," she smiled. "I was blessed with wonderful parents. My seven brothers and sisters got along and enjoyed each other. We were a happy family and church was always a large part of our lives. I was fortunate to find my husband, Lewis, a very giving man, who took the best care of our three children and me. We never had to worry, and just took things as they came. Lewis was a very spiritual man, taught Sunday school and always sang in a choir. We were married 63 wonderful years."
Dressed in a pretty pink blouse with glowing skin to match, Hazel beamed, "I was at a dance last night. love to dance. There's another tonight! Ballroom dancing is different now. It's salsa and all those Latin dances," she laughed. "I like to Cha Cha! Kids today do not know what good music is. All the big bands were the best. Great words you could understand and wonderful melodies."
Hazel is accustomed to inquiries about her vibrant attitude and energetic lifestyle. It may be normal for people who love to engage in multiple activities. However, in Hazel's case, her multi-faceted life is not only unique, but also amazing! January 8, 2011, Hazel will celebrate her 100th birthday!
"My daughters have the place reserved, and it's my job to choose the band. I better get busy," she reminded herself!
Remembering early-married life, the Indiana native pointed out, "We had our hard times, but even in the depression, Lewis had a job. He earned $29 a week! I still have the book where I recorded our expenses. We ate on $5 a week and we took turns having dinner at friend's homes. We had a car, but it stayed parked most of the time, as gas was rationed. Lewis and I walked many places and often he rode a bicycle to work. Silk hoses were a luxury! Music was an important part of our lives, as was a positive attitude. For 20 years, we shared a common interest, serving on national and local boards for The Salvation Army, our favorite charity."
A 25-year mechanical engineer for General Electric, Hazel's husband traveled internationally. They moved from Peoria, which Hazel loved, to another area where she experienced an important turning point in her life. "Our youngest was off to college and Lewis was traveling again. I was suffering from multiple health problems and unhappy at 51. A friend recommended a doctor, a firm believer in homeopathic treatment. He brainwashed me! 'Quit all medications, go on a whole-grained diet with no sugar, no dairy products and drink eight glasses of water a day.' Whole-grained bread was a mess to make and was only found in a health food store! He informed me if I did not want to do this, not to come back to him. Since the family was gone, I decided to try it and it saved my life! I slip off it sometimes, but at 99, I am on no medications and continue all the vitamins he suggested."
It does not surprise anyone to see Hazel in tap dancing lessons each week. "I've learned some good steps!" Playing tennis every Friday morning and her monthly dine-about club delight her. The Boys and Girls Club benefits from Hazel's extraordinary energy, as does the Lowcountry Presbyterian Church, where she assists with the Family Promise program for the homeless. With hands folded in her petite lap, she muses, "I cannot get over how lucky I've been. I feel so blessed to be here and enjoy my wonderful family and friends. I have more friends here than ever. People tell me I'm an inspiration. I am where I'm supposed to be and maybe that's why I'm here," she concluded.
What is your philosophy of life? Love people, pray everyday and do all you can.
What concerns you? Our National Debt. It's a disaster. Everyone knows you can't spend more than comes in. We are in serious times. I pray daily for our country.
What has amazed you the most? Going to the moon was something we never even dreamed!
What are your future plans: A return trip to London in September with my oldest daughter and my friend!