When You Only Have 103 Years to Live

Branch is celebrating today for on this very day, 103 years ago, Mrs. Annie English came into the world. Yes, 103 years ago. Let's examine that wondrous fact. In 1914, World War I began it's lengthy campaign as country after country wearily engaged in battle in far away Europe. The inventive Panama Canal opened, ushering a new era in the shipping of goods from sea to sea. The ingenious Charlie Chaplin made his on screen debut and rose to fame with his uncanny ability to communicate without words. Meanwhile, here in Branch, as war raged on, massive ships passed smoothly between continents and silent screen stars became legends, an even greater miracle was manifested. Annie O'Rourke was born in Branch.

That Branch of 1914 was much different in many ways. There were no roads, no cars, no electricity, no television and alas, no Facebook! Visiting a doctor was a monumental event and required extensive travel. Communication was limited to lively conversations rooted by being in the same room, face to face.

As Mrs. Annie has aged, so has Branch. The human landscape of Branch has changed as people have come and gone from our community. In many ways, the geographic landscape remains the same, with the Gut continuing to anchor Branch, strengthened by the Flats and the Cove. The fishery continues to play a foundational role in our community, as does farming. Our faith remains central to who we are. We are still committed to ensuring Branch remains relevant and robust.

On this memorable day, many will ask themselves, how do I do that? How do I live to be 103, healthy and living in my own home? I think I've solved a fraction of this profound mystery.

I remember visiting Mrs. Annie on her 100th birthday. When I walked in, she was standing at the stove frying fresh fish. Surrounded by her attentive family, glossy balloons and well-wishes from around the world, she was in her element. When the news came on at 6, she rushed into the living room, excited to see her birthday announced. There you have it. The recipe for age and aging. Keep going. Do what you love. Celebrate your birthdays and your life with family and friends. Be nice. Share your love. Own your joy and excitement. And fry fish whenever you have the chance. Mrs. Annie didn't accept the Oil of Olay aversion to aging and "fight it every step of the way". She hasn't gown to be ageless. Instead, she is age-full, having lived an honourable life sharing her life and her heart with so many.

Every time I hear the Five for Fighting song, 100 Years, the gracious, tenacious Mrs. Annie English comes to mind. As the singer moves through the ages and stages of any life, the dreaming, the living, the the hugeness not only of the years she lived astonishes me, but how she has lived. That songs ends with "There's never been a wish better than this, when you've only got a 100 years to live."

The war has ended, thankfully. The Panama Canal is old news and poor old Charlie Chaplin is long gone. But....Mrs. Annie English is on Facebook tonight! We are so proud that you chose us, that you chose Branch to live those 103 years....we can't wait to celebrate 104 with you!

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