WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — How many of you remember what you had for lunch a week ago? Do you remember the name of the restaurant? Can you tell me the name of the waiter or waitresses?
The point is we forget a lot in just a week. To be fair, the weeks do add up, and our long-term memory is sometimes better than our short-term memory.
It was still impressive when I recently chatted with Margaret Terrey and she could tell me, in detail, about life growing up in Reading, Pennsylvania.
I still struggle to remember the 80’s when I was in high school and yet Terrey had no problem telling me stories about her past. To be clear her past is like way, way in the past. Terrey was born 100 years ago on June 17th, 1922.
“It was a lot different then that’s for sure,” Terrey said.
Her family is having a big birthday celebration for Terrey who is still as smart and quick-whited as ever. Terrey jokes her body hasn’t been able to keep up with her mind.
“I think I can do everything, but then I hear my bones start cracking and realize I can’t,” Terrey said.
The Pennsylvania native now lives with her daughter in Winston-Salem. She doesn’t get out and about much but has joined the masses with a Facebook account.
“It’s getting kind of slimy,” Terrey said.
Terrey said she prefers her Christian books or television and rarely misses an online Sunday service.
The mother of five has 16 grandkids and 24 great-grandkids. Her daughter Peggy says her mom also dozens and dozens of “adopted kids” roaming the world.
“Everybody loved her,” Peggy Theobald said. “She would invite everybody home to our home for dinner or stop in to talk, whatever, (my) mom was always there.”
Terrey, who was Margarete Moyer back then, graduated from high school in 1939 and married Robert Terrey three years later. He would join the military and flew B-17s in WWII. Peggy said he led 50 missions over Europe during the war.
“Mom was there for all of that, supporting him,” Theobald said.
When he returned from the war the couple started a family soon after. The couple moved around a lot as Robert Terrey found different jobs to support the family. Robert would eventually become a pastor and served different churches in Minnesota, New York, Missouri, and Florida.
“We were poor, I mean poor,” Terrey said.
Peggy said what they lacked in money they made up for in love. Her mom made sure her brothers and sisters were protected and raised in a caring home.
“She was the best ever,” Theobald said.
Terrey said it wasn’t always easy raising five kids while Robert worked but she did what she could. Her daughter tells a different story about how her mom was always there to support the kids and make sure they felt safe and loved.
Terrey also had a few jobs during her 100 years including working at a library, working as a beautician, and being a secretary. She said she made about $2 a day when she worked and that her mom would often give her and Robert a quarter to go get some food or drinks.
Robert Passed away in 2002 when Terrey moved in with her daughter. The couple had been married for 60 years before Terrey died.
Theobald has converted the study into a bedroom, so her mom has a comfortable place to read and sleep. The living situation has worked out perfectly for both mother and daughter.
“She still prays for us (family) every day,” Theobald said.
On her 100th birthday, the family is celebrating Terrey with a party. Family and friends from all over are expected to come to town to celebrate, many of who haven’t seen Terrey in years.
A big celebration is also planned at her church the following day.
“It’s going to be real fun,” Theobald said.
A large group of family and friends, many Terrey hadn’t seen in years came to the party. The birthday girl was given a birthday cupcake and smiled as the large gathering sang happy birthday. When it was time to blow out the candle one of her granddaughters helped, which brought a smirk and a quick retort from Terrey, “I can do it, (blow out the candle) what do you think I’m dead,” Terrey said.
Her granddaughter laughed and then lit the candle again for Terrey to blow it out, which she did. Happy birthday Margaret, Happy Birthday!