Catherine Johns is ready to embrace the New Year – and her second century of life.
The resident of Magnolia Ranch outside Escalon will mark her 100th birthday on Friday, Jan. 1, having been born in 1916. She recently celebrated the occasion at a birthday party attended by about 45 family members and friends, hosted at the home of Mike and Irene Schenone.
“I have enjoyed my life but I have had to work hard,” Catherine said, surrounded by staff members on a recent weekday at Magnolia Ranch, reminiscing as she prepared for the family celebration.
She rated the home she lives in as ‘fantastic’ and said she is “so glad my children found it for me.”
Magnolia Ranch owner Ray Caparros said the facility is home to about a half-dozen seniors or those with special health needs and they strive to make it a very family-oriented home.
“She knows I am going to give her a hug,” Caparros said, smiling as he knelt beside Catherine in her wheelchair.
Born in Idaho, Catherine lived nearly 30 years in the Bay Area as well and worked in Oakland, where she was in the nursing field. Among some of the patients she treated early in her career were concentration camp survivors.
Now, she enjoys her days at the Magnolia Ranch, where caretakers are more like friends and include Jackie Headley, Brandy Ramczyk and Jimie Perez.
“She used to tease her mom, asking her if she (Catherine) was the only New Year’s resolution she ever kept,” Headley said, chuckling.
“I used to make my mother so mad,” Catherine chimed in.
She said there are plenty of memories, good and bad, of her life but the good times far outweigh the bad. With three children and multiple grandchildren, she feels blessed. Catherine has lived at Magnolia Ranch for about three years. Most of the time it has been good, except for a brief stint when she was ill.
“She got sick last year,” Caparros explained, with Hospice coming in for a few months for extra care.
“One day she just sat up and asked for breakfast,” Headley said. “She’s been doing wonderful ever since and this woman can eat, bring in the sweets, the fresh fruits and cookies. She’s also very healthy, she only takes blood pressure medicine. She’s a doll.”
For her part, Catherine said she enjoys life every day and was pleased to share her 100th birthday with family and friends. Many of her grandchildren come to visit her at Magnolia Ranch on a regular basis as well.
“I’ve had to work hard most of my life but I don’t think hard work ever hurt anybody,” she said.
She also loved to travel in her younger days, often striking out on her own for her adventures.
“I didn’t mind traveling alone, but so many of my friends couldn’t understand it,” she said. “Most of the time I left him (husband) at home, I had more fun that way.”
While those long ago travels are a distant memory, Catherine still enjoys reminiscing about them. She also is content with where she is.
Magnolia Ranch has five residents right now, said Caparros, with Catherine a very special 100-year-old resident.
“We love this woman,” Caparros said.