Our Harvest family recently celebrated a very important birthday. Sweet Evelyn Byrd turned 100 years old in July. She likes to say she is a 100 and a month years old.
I had the opportunity to sit down with her and talk about her experiences over the last 100 years. She is a remarkable person. Evelyn is sharp-minded and quick-witted. She stays active by making greeting cards, reading her Bible, praying for people, and doing puzzles.
Evelyn, who grew up on a farm in Kentucky, had two brothers and three sisters. Evelyn was the third child and has outlived her entire family.
She was married to her first husband for 34 happy years. Evelyn was 53 when her husband passed. After some time, she decided to go to school and get her Practical Nurse Certificate. She worked in nursing for 10 years. Evelyn said she was always a learner and doer. In fact, that is her secret to longevity. Evelyn says “a person who trusts the Lord, keeps their mind busy and keeps learning will do well in life.”
She really is an amazing person. She is the epitome of spunk and positivism. The twinkle in her eyes and her sweet laugh is unforgettable.
Today, Evelyn uses a cane and a walker, wears glasses, is a little hard of hearing, but mentally, she is sharp as a tack and positive on all fronts. She is healthy, which she thanks God for each day. Evelyn said that her body is worn out and hurts but she doesn’t let that stop her! In fact, she wanted to learn something new, so she did a TikTok dance with me! Her video received more than 5,000 views overnight. Evelyn felt like a rock star. She surprised me with her energy!
The most important thing Evelyn would tell you about her 100 years of life is, “it’s been a good life, even with all of my mistakes and failures, and with all of the heartaches and sadness. God has been with me through it all.” Her faith is a huge part of her life’s story. She almost died during childbirth. In fact, the doctor called her family and told them to say their goodbyes. It was then she heard the Lord’s voice. She was so confused but said “if this is God, help me.” Suddenly, a strength came over her and she was healed. After 38 days in the hospital, she was healed and released. That was the day she trusted in the Lord. I wish had more space to write because there is so much to say about Evelyn.
Before the interview, I asked Harvest neighbors as well as our Instagram followers for questions to ask Evelyn. Here are the top 10 questions.
- When did you stop driving? I gave up driving at 90. I knew it was time to hang up the keys. I sold my car to a friend in Florida who really needed a car.
- What was the best invention of your lifetime? Well, that’s a hard one. I know the tractor was very important. My father was a tobacco farmer and us kids had to help him, and it was all done by hand. Very hard on your back. My brother took over the farm and got a tractor that did all the work for you. That would have been great to have back when I was a kid. I would also say the sewing machines today. I used to sew all my clothes and hats. It would have been easier with a new sewing machine.
- What was your favorite decade? That’s a tough one. Probably the 50s. I was married, and we were overseers for the church in Chicago. It was a happy time.
- Did you have toilet paper growing up? We used newspaper. Toilet paper was expensive, and we couldn’t afford it. We got the newspaper free. So, my mom kept and put the newspaper by the toilet – which was outside. She had cut the newspaper in strips and we would wad it up in a ball until it was soft! I bet you have never heard things like that before.
- What advice would you give others? To read your Bible, pray and trust our great God. There is no other like Him. He never leaves us or forsakes us. God led me through the traumas of my teen years, picking me up and dusting me off when I stumbled and fell (more times than I care to admit)—though I did not realize it when I was 20, 30, or 40. Looking back through those years, I see how God has been there with me. So why should I be afraid of turning 50, 60, 70, 80, or 100? The same for you—trust in God and you will have nothing to fear.
- How old do you feel mentally? Well, I don’t feel like I’m going to be a 100… wait, I am 100! [laughter] I don’t feel 100, I feel about 50 or 60. I’m not sick. My body is worn out but I’m not sick and I can still do my puzzles. I could live to be 200!
- Your greeting cards are beautiful, and you have amazing handwriting. Who taught you how to write? People tell me all the time they love my handwriting. I am surprised it’s still good because my hand hurts quite a bit, but that does not stop me from making and sending cards. My uncle never married, and he went off to the war. He would write these beautiful letters. I remember he had great handwriting. My mom had a big calendar and I asked if I could have the month after it past. You see the back was blank. She let me have it and I took one of the letters from my uncle and I copied his handwriting over and over until I learned how to write.
- What is your typical day? I make cards in the morning time and then I go sit in my comfortable chair and read several chapters in the Bible. After that, I have a list of 30 names, and I pray to God for each one of those people. I also pray for myself and thank God for another day. After that, I do my puzzles. I love puzzles. Sometimes I watch television. I watch the news or my favorite show, “Family Feud.” I get sleepy during the day, but I don’t take naps because I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to sleep.
- What advice would you give to parents? Be strict. Don’t be afraid to spank their behind. My mother was very intelligent and organized person. She was also very strict. I remember us going to church and sitting on the bench with mother. This lady came up and told our mother how lucky she is to have such well-behaved children. I wanted to say well if we weren’t behaved, we would get spankings, so we knew better.
- What would you tell your younger self? To trust God with everything. You worry so much about things you can’t control and never trust the one who is in total control. God is always with us and we can trust him.