Cobden -- There are no birthday decorations in Jessie Stubinsky’s room at Caressant Care Retirement Home in Cobden, but the door to her room makes up for that, because you can’t enter her room without noticing the balloons, streamers and Happy Birthday signs.
A golden tiara and a sparkly, golden sash, both with the number 100 on them, adorn Jessie. She quaintly smiles as she looks at the camera.
On Monday, August 22, Jessie turned 100 years old.
“I don’t want all this fuss,” she said, but agrees to answering a few questions.
Her younger sister, Iona, sits in a chair beside her, an encounter that occurs more now than when the sisters were living in their own homes.
“We lived 30 miles apart,” Jessie said.
Jessie moved into Caressant Care six years ago while Iona recently located into the home.
The two sisters, along with two brothers, Lynn and Malcolm, both now deceased, grew up on a farm in Black Donald, about 13 kilometres outside Calabogie.
“We grew up without (electricity), using oil lamps,” Jessie recalled with Iona quipping in, “We skied to school.”
Jessie eventually left the farm and became a housekeeper and caregiver of a crippled child, which is where she met husband Frank, who is now deceased.
The two married on November 25, 1942 and continued to operate Frank’s campground at Centennial Lake. In their 67 years of marriage, the two have a legacy of four daughters – Glenda, Deborah, Dianne and Elaine; five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren. Glenda is now deceased, Deborah lives in Kanata, Dianne lives on the family farm in Black Donald and Elaine lives in Calabogie.
When asked if there’s a secret to living to 100, Jessie leans forward in her wing-backed chair and says, “I was watching television one day and a woman said she lived to be 100 by having a bowl of porridge each morning.
“You can guess what I eat for breakfast each day,” she says with a chuckle.
Jessie also remained active throughout her life, noting the tourist business kept her busy.
But she was also a seamstress, making most of her own clothes, as well as her daughters’ clothing. She was on the board of directors for Home Care in her area and she belonged to a craft club.
As an adult, Jessie also continued her education through correspondence courses, having to leave school when she finished Grade 8.
After smoking for 30 years, she gave the habit up in her 50s and began walking two miles every day.
When she was about 60, she travelled to Hawaii with daughter Glenda.
After her arrival at Caressant Care, when she was 94, she took up acrylic painting.
Pointing to a painting on the wall, she said, “I painted that. That’s where I grew up.”
Each of her family members has one of her paintings.
Three years after she started painting, she gave it up due to poor eyesight.
“I can’t paint, I can’t read,” she says, adding she can read if she uses reading glasses and a magnifying glass.
Today, Jessie is content at Caressant Care, as is her sister Iona.
“It’s a really nice place,” Jessie said.
Iona said, “That’s why I moved here,” with Jessie adding, “It’s very nice having Iona here.”
Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader