Eunice Arthur loves life – all 101 years of it! She was just 11 years of age when she came to America on a ship from Bellshill, Scotland. The year was 1924. She was on board with 10 of her brothers and sisters and her mom, who became so sea sick that Eunice and her siblings had to be cared for by the crew.
But it’s not the rough seas that Eunice remembers.
“We sat on the deck and watched a whale jump up and spout water. I loved it! When we got to Ellis Island, we had to stay there for one week until my father, who was already here, came to get us. It was lovely. I enjoyed it,” she said with a bright smile.
That positive attitude has carried her through life and through the loss of all 12 of her brothers and sisters, her husband, and her only son. From the personal care home where she resides and takes part in all of its activities, life just couldn’t be any better.
Queen of Hearts
I met Eunice two years ago in a high school auditorium where I was presenting for The Challenge Program, Inc. She was there with the program’s sponsor, West Haven Manor personal care home, one of several nursing facilities operated by Quality Life Services in western Pennsylvania.
Eunice, 99 years young at the time, was wearing a sash and crown. She had recently been named Queen of Quality Life Services, a competition among each of the nursing homes. She won because of her special talent. She could dance.
Word of her talent traveled back to the sound booth crew and before the assembly ended, Katy Perry’s “Firework” was played. Eunice stood up and danced and the auditorium of students went wild with applause.
It was another life moment for Eunice to celebrate. “I loved it! I’m a dancer. I always loved to dance and to sing. I taught myself to dance,” she said.
Her youthful spirit was a perfect match for the teenagers whose hearts she stole that day. They wanted to make her Prom Queen, but her social calendar was full so she had to decline.
She left them with this timeless advice. “Stay in school. If you quit, you get nowhere. With an education, you can get a good job,” she said.
Living to be Happy
With this “never quit” attitude, Eunice maneuvers her walker through the personal care home’s hallways with energy and ease. She commented, “I feel great! I could run a race! Not too fast, but I could run!”
Her energy is contagious. Anne, an 89 year old fellow resident, remarked, “We all love Eunice. She jokes and makes us laugh every day!”
“I live to be happy. I’m thankful for being alive!,” Eunice said.
If she could do one thing she hasn’t been able to do, what would it be? “I’d like to take a trip back to Scotland,” she said. In her mind, she goes there every day when she sings a verse from a song very close to her heart, “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”.
Eunice remarked, “The good Lord wants me around. He’s not ready to take me yet. I have a lot to do. I just don’t know what it is!”
Maybe it’s to help a lot of other people forget about the rough seas of their lives – and be happy too!