by Lori King-Kocsis
The day begins for Marie Lund with her morning walk, a mile each day. She walks slowly around the block with friendly neighbors keeping an eye on her. Ever since her eyesight began to wane her walks have become shorter but walk she must, she’s been walking daily since she could stand. Starting somewhere around 99 years ago.
Born on March 27, 1916 as Marie Zalinsky, she was raised on a farm in Sagamore, PA, a small coal mining town. Unbeknownst to Marie at the time, she would live to see sixteen presidents sworn in, the Great Depression, WWI and WWII, airplanes advanced into commercial flights and the seemingly impossible became possible when man landed on the moon.
Marie was a good student, practical and adept at math, she was advanced from 6th to 8th grade. Her Eastern European heritage (Poland) had a strong influence throughout her years. When she was 14 years old, just out of 8th grade Marie went to work in Philadelphia at the DuPont Mansion as a live-in maid.
A self-taught seamstress, Marie became sought after for her work and sewed outfits for the clergy. After awhile, she tried to keep her seamstress abilities a secret so “people wouldn’t keep asking me to make things!”
Her time at the DuPont’s ended after she married Charles Lund. She introduced Charles to the DuPonts’, he became their butler and they began a family. Her seamstress and cooking skills came in handy while she raised 7 children. Walking everywhere, she never had a license, never owned a car; there were days when Marie would walk for hours.
“Home Smelled like a Bakery”
Coming home from school the Lund children were greeted with the smell of fresh baked goods. Marie’s seven children each had their personal favorites. From chocolate chip cookies to orange chiffon cake, the list of goodies that she made throughout the years was long.
When asked if there is a type of food Marie enjoys the most, a simple, “Food is food” was her answer with the added comment “some things are better than others.”
Unsure what to expect on this year’s birthday celebration, it’s doubtful that 100 candles will be put on the cake. On her 95th birthday Marie wanted to see what 95 candles looked like on a cake, apparently it was impressive enough to set off the smoke detectors.
Tai Chi for Marie
Marie began taking Tai Chi a few years ago at The Players Senior Center in Ponte Verde. Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that is practiced as a graceful form of exercise. It involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing. Tai Chi has helped Marie, “Stand firmly on my feet, it steadies you and does the trick.” Her teacher, Dennis Sheils, had many pleasant thoughts about Marie; her tenacity, her faith and strength. “Marie goes with the flow,” he says with a smile. Though her movements are slower due to her eyesight she is an inspiration to her classmates.
Marie’s Advice on Living 100 years
Diminutive in stature and brief with her words, Marie had a few things to say about life and if she has a magic pill or secret to living 100 years. “Be truthful about everything you say. Then you won’t have to worry about what you’ve said. It’s always the truth”.
Even though her eyes are clouded from macular degeneration, you can still see the hazel they once were. She never spoke of her aches or her diminishing eyesight and continues to read daily on a machine for the blind. When asked how it feels to be 100 years old Marie said, you just “imagine each day at a time”.
It also seems that walking, and now Tai Chi has played a big part in keeping Marie healthy and grounded.
Is there a magic pill or secret? “No secret” is Marie’s succinct reply. A true “Salt of the Earth”, Marie has lived her life with a steady hand, a strong heart and feet that are planted firmly on the ground.
St. Johns Magazine