A century of living
Could an afternoon gin and tonic be the secret to a long life?
For Gresham resident Marguerite Inman, it could be.
"That's what everybody asks me," said Marguerite, who turned 100 years old Wednesday, July 12. "I don't know. I worked hard and I guess that's it."
But daughters JoAnn LeDoux and Diane Inman are quick to add that gin and tonic helped. Even though Marguerite switched to just tonic water last year, the ritual hasn't stopped.
Whatever the secret, Marguerite celebrated the centennial anniversary of her birth with friends and family at Heidi's of Gresham on Wednesday. About 60 people gathered at the restaurant and lounge to toast the birthday woman, including family from out of state.
Initially, Marguerite wasn't keen on the idea of a party, but she quickly warmed up when thinking about family she would see.
"I'll have to have a Margarita," Marguerite said before her birthday party.
"Margarita for Marguerite," laughed Mike Inman, Diane's husband.
Marguerite — grandmother of three, great-grandmother of four and great-great-grandmother of two — was the second eldest of six children. She grew up on a potato farm in Northern Minnesota during the horse-and-buggy era. Marguerite was a big help with potato picking and caring for her younger twin brothers.
"Her older sister liked to cook and my mom worked outside, so it worked good," JoAnn said.
Marguerite's hometown is also where she met her late husband, Darrell, through friends at a dance. Like modern day potlucks, the gatherings were held in neighboring homes and incorporated dancing. Marguerite and Darrell's song was the Tennessee Waltz, a dance she loves.
Mike recalls dancing the waltz with Marguerite during her 80th birthday party.
"(She) and her husband did a lot of dancing when they were younger," Mike said. "She was a very good dancer, (and) could follow my lead."
Marguerite married Darrell in 1937. They were married 46 years before Darrell's death in 1983. Darrell served in the Navy for a few years but worked most of his life as a traveling mechanic, fixing machinery for the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Marguerite also was a hard worker. After she and Darrell moved to Oregon in 1941, Marguerite worked as a welder in the Portland shipyards during World War II.
"I enjoyed welding," Marguerite said. "I only weighed about 100 pounds, but I carried my hose for welding."
She also worked as a waitress for the Canton Grill in Portland and then in a factory that made boxes. But her career really took off when she graduated from nursing school in 1961. She became a licensed practical nurse and worked for the Visiting Nurse Association.
"I liked everything because at night, it gave me a good feeling that I had helped somebody," Marguerite said.
When Marguerite wasn't helping others, she was camping or hunting with family.
"We roughed it, nothing fancy," JoAnn said. "We had hotdogs and hamburgers, no steaks, and our gin and tonics."
Diane remembers her parents loading up the camping trailer Thursday night so they were ready to travel after work on Friday. They also had a place in Rockcreek, a small town in Washington County city, they would vacation to.
Marguerite and Darrell moved to Sandy with JoAnn and her husband around 1969. Darrell always wanted property, so they purchased 8 acres, eventually also acquiring the 14 acres next door.
This is where Marguerite spent her free time, gardening and mowing. But what she really loved was fire. JoAnn's husband would limb the trees, and Marguerite would have bonfires to clean up the mess.
"She just loved to burn and clean stuff up," JoAnn said. "She wasn't a fire bug, she just wanted to clean up the property."
One time when Marguerite was burning brush on their property, the fire was so big it attracted the fire department.
"Somebody from Estacada called and saw the smoke," JoAnn said. "We weren't supposed to be burning."
The fire marshal threatened to either charge the then 85-year-old Marguerite with a fine or arrest her, but later rescinded both threats.
Marguerite, JoAnn and her husband later moved inward to experience Sandy's city life in 2001. The first four years after moving to town, Marguerite lived on her own, while JoAnn and her husband lived in Texas before moving back to Sandy in 2005.
This was Marguerite's home until two years ago when she moved to the Gresham Orient Adult Foster Care Home after she fell and broke her leg. She is now closer to Diane, who has lived in Gresham since 1970.
"She was walking (after) she fell and broke her leg to get her second cup of coffee in the morning, which she wasn't supposed to be doing, that was my job," said JoAnn, adding that her mother was very independent until age 98. She even did word jumbles and Sudoku puzzles religiously, and had an immense love for cards.
"She still plays a good game of Pinochle," Diane noted.
Marguerite also loves to read.
"I read every night in bed," she said.
While romance novels win her heart, poetry will always hold a special place.
"When we were little girls and we would say 'We can't do it,' my mom recited the whole poem, ('It Couldn't be Done' by Edgar Guest) from memory to us," Diane said. "By the time she'd finish, we'd done it!"
The reason Marguerite loves this poem is because even though it couldn't be done, "they did it," she said.
And that's just what Marguerite is doing now — something rarely done.
"I never thought about (her living to be 100), but I'm not surprised because she really did take care of herself without thinking about it," Diane said.
A year ago, when JoAnn and Diane took their mother to the doctor, they asked if Marguerite would live to be 100. The doctor's reply was an immediate "yes."
"It worries me that I will live that long too," Diane said. "If I live to be 100, what am I going to do? I better do something.
"It gives you a new perspective on your own life."