In the month of May in the year 2019, a woman named Ellen marked her 100th year on earth. The centenarian lives alone but next door to and under the watchful eye of her 62-year-old daughter, Kathy. The two ladies live in Greeneville, a history-rich town folded into the foothills of the Appalaichain Mountains in eastern Tennessee.
Greeneville was named in honor of the American Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene, which accounts for the fact that the town’s name has four eeees and making it the only “Green-related” city in the United States spelled with four eeees. Another footnote to the town’s history is the 17th President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, was born here. Andrew Johnson, as all students of American history know, ascended to the presidency from the post of vice president as a result of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Ellen’s own life story reminds us that life can not only be long but can also be hard, especially when that life spans a hundred years and a large share of the Twentieth Century. As the first child in a family that produced a total of 13 children, Ellen early-on learned the importance of pulling her own weight… and more. For instance, in one job she had to walk to work a distance of three and a half miles, each way. Or there was the job that paid her 11-cents an hour.
Ellen finally retired from the workaday world in 1978 and in 1982 moved back to her old hometown with her husband Glen, who passed away in 1997. These days Kathy and a team of dedicated caregivers keep a careful eye on Ellen. Kathy drives her mom to the doctor’s office, or to the grocery store, and to the Bingo competitions she loves, some as far away as up in Kentucky. She now spends most of her waking hours at home in her easy chair watching television, and indulging herself with four-to-five cans of Coca-Cola a day and the occasional spoonful of peanut butter.
As the years slipped by, both Ellen and Kathy began to experience some of the infirmities of age, including lapses in their memory. One evening while watching television, Kathy came across a cable program dealing with health issues. The topic that really got her full attention was the challenges posed by a deteriorating memory, and the prospects for managing mild memory loss by a new product called Prevagen.
Kathy ordered her first Prevagen on-line and gave it a trial run. The benefits began to appear. Her mother soon followed suit, and before long both of these ladies were seeing positive results. Kathy reports that her mother refers to Prevagen as her “brain wave pills.”
When Ellen celebrated her 100th birthday, a reporter from the local newspaper interviewed her and produced a nicely-written story about this heretofore anonymous resident of Greeneville. The media attention didn’t make this spry centenarian as famous as Messrs. Greene, Johnson or Lincoln, but it did shine a light on the life of another Greeneville personage who has done what most people never do, which is to live a very long time. The reporter’s story about Ellen concludes with a quote that speaks to the heart of anyone hoping to live a life that is healthy, balanced and rewarding:
“The thing is to be living right,” Ellen says from the vantage point of 100 years. “When you’re living right, you’ll know where you are going.”