Over her 99 years, Aldergrove’s Marie Rideout has lived through a world war, a cold war and several pandemics, including the current coronavirus crisis that kept her from having friends over for a birthday party.
So, several friends brought the party to her.
More than a dozen members of the Langley Red Hat Society, which Rideout is a member of, assembled on the lawn outside the long-term care facility where Rideout lives on her birthday, Tuesday, May 26, to sing “Happy Birthday” and wish her well.
Rideout beamed from behind her window.
Before the surprise was spring, the great-grandmother told the Langley Advance Times that she didn’t quite understand the fuss about turning 99.
Next year, when she turns 100, “that’s the big one,” she laughed.
“If I’m still here.”
In her near-century of living, the former Woodward’s store employee has seen the world transformed, most recently with the arrival of the latest pandemic.
“The world has turned upside down, hasn’t it,” Rideout commented.
She is often asked how she has managed to live so long, she related.
“People ask me, what’s my secret,” she confided.
“I tell them, there’s no secret. What you have to do, is to live every day. When you think abut it, God wants you to live one day at a time.”
Her surprise party was organized by long-time friend and fellow Red Hat Society member Lynn Lavery, who described Rideout as “a mom to me.”
“She is a fun-loving woman who loves life,” Lavery said.
“There’s not a mean bone in her body.”
Lavery and Rideout used to be neighbours in Pioneer Park, a manufactured home park in Aldergrove, but after Rideout suffered a bad fall, she was convinced to moved to the Marwood South residence near Langley Memorial Hospital.
“My son got all excited,” Rideout explained.
Her eyesight isn’t what it used to be, but her hearing is good, and she has no trouble recognizing people by their voice.
On the day of her surprise party, she tapped back, smiling, when Lavery said hello and rapped gently on her window glass.
She praised the staff at the residence, saying she is treated well.
While her friends couldn’t visit her inside the building, their gifts were allowed in, with a delay to allow for sanitizing.
And there was a birthday cake, that read “Happy 99th birthday mom from your family.”
“I’m still here and still living,” Rideout smiled.
“Life is wonderful.”