PALMETTO — Elizabeth Rose, a long-time Palmetto resident, turned 104 Friday.
The secret to her longevity?
Daily prayer, Bible reading and listening to gospel music, she said.
It was fitting her birthday party at noon Friday at Riviera Palms Rehabilitation Center, 926 Haben Blvd., Palmetto, featured her caretakers and friends doing a gospel-inspired rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
“Miss Elizabeth loves lovely music,” said caretaker, Nanette Lawrence.
Rose was born Sept. 4, 1911, in Georgia and grew up in the Savannah area. Her husband, who died many years ago, was a preacher, she said. The couple had no
Rose has a mild case of memory loss, which affects her speech, but it hasn’t limited her activities, Lawrence said.
“She’s sharp, understands everything and goes to every activity we have here,” Lawrence said. “Bingo, music, book readings, you name it and she is there.”
Before she came to Riviera Palms about a decade ago, Rose lived in Palmetto with former Palmetto resident Vitaree White.
“A social worker for the state asked me if I would take care of her,” White said. “She came to me in 1989.”
White cared for Rose for about 16 years.
“I took care of her until I couldn’t take care of her anymore,” White said.
White now lives in Texas but comes back to Palmetto every year to make sure Rose has a birthday party.
On Friday, White used the community room at the nursing home to put out a spread of Publix Supermarket sandwiches, grapes, fried chicken, salads, sweet tea and a birthday cake with no candles.
“I forgot the candles,” White said with a smile. At 104, who needs candles?
Loving and compassionate
White calls Rose one of the most loving and compassionate persons she has ever met.
“One year I had just returned home from a mission trip to Africa and when I went into her room I said: ‘I smell something in here,'” White said.
“She looked at me and said: ‘Oh no, there is nothing in here.’ I started to look around. I opened her dresser drawer. She had gone outside and found a rabbit and its babies and had them tucked in a drawer and had blankets on them like she was trying to keep them warm. It was just typical of the kind of person that she is. She is very caring, very loving and very compassionate.”
Rose took care of the rabbits until they had grown, White recalls.
“We lived here in Palmetto, then I had to place her in a nursing home because I couldn’t take care of her anymore,” White said.
White’s sister, Bonnie Wortham, who said Rose loved to cook, kept the beat during the “Happy Birthday” moment in the community room of the nursing home. The room was decorated with balloons.
“She’s very bubbly,” Lawrence said of Rose. “You ask her how she is doing and she says: ‘Doing as well as I can do.'”