Last year, on her 99th birthday, we introduced you to an infinitely wise, witty and inspiring woman who stole our hearts and made us cry with laughter. Born January 10 in 1917, Grandma Eileen (as she’s affectionately known by all) has lived through every world event and history making moment over the last century, and we’re psyched to celebrate with her again, as she turns 100 today. And although it’s Eileen’s birthday, we score the biggest gift watching the newly crowned centenarian riff on how to talk to “old people” (cue Eileen’s delightfully devilish laugh).
“Treat them like they’re a person, not that they’re old… but like they’re young. I have a 20-year-old brain still, but just an old body.”
As the big 100 approached, Eileen’s adoring grandson, Mike Matthews, pressed her about what questions she gets asked A LOT… as an “old person”. He then asked her what questions she’d prefer to get from people that would allow her to share more in-depth responses. With his camera rolling, Mike managed to capture all of the nuggets Eileen was dropping, delivered with her signature blend of earnest, depth, and near perfect comedic timing.
Knowing Eileen is a woman who can bounce in a single conversation from more weighty topics like women’s rights, to truly lighter matters like the fact that Wendy’s chili (her fave) doesn’t give her gas, we could not wait to hear her answers…
What do you see positive about this generation? GE: Nothing stops a woman today. Nothing.
What do you see negative about this generation? GE: They expect to have their boss’s job. They don’t have much patience to start at the bottom.
What has changed with women in our society now?
GE: Oh my gracious, I’m just so proud of women and it’s all for good. The women today are so strong. Even when I was in college* if a woman had intelligence you had to kind of hide it. I’m also proud of those men who embraced these changes in society. [*Editor’s Note: Eileen studied psychology at the University of Utah in the early 1930s. More about that here]
What were your hobbies as a child? GE: I went around town on roller skates and collected bugs and plants. I’d take them over to the library and the librarian would help me look them up in books in order to identify them. I was a weird kid. Today, I love to paint but I’m not that good. My lines are squiggly but hey, who cares?
What events stood out to you as a kid? GE: I went to the Salt Lake Airport on a very windy day and saw Charles Lindbergh take off his hat, wave to the crowd and take off in his plane. My Dad turned to us and said, “This is an event I want you to remember,” and I did.
What are some things that you find difficult to do now that you’re older? GE: Many, many things. For instance when the grandchildren come over I can’t get down on the floor and play with them. And things fall on the floor all the time and I can’t pick them up. It can sometimes I feel like I’m a prisoner in my own body. One time I thought, “I’m going to make a banana bread.” The bananas were just right to use so I got everything out and measured the flour. But by the time I got everything out I didn’t have the strength to finish so I had to put it all back. That’s when I knew my baking days were over. But there are MARVELOUS drugs that can take care of any pain.
How To Celebrate #Eileens100th
If you want to send birthday love to Grandma Eileen, Mike is going to have a massive screen up at her party today with a real-time feed of messages from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter that use the hashtag #Eileens100th. So post away. You can see the feed here.