100 years and still in high spirits – Vredekloof

On 26 July, Catharina Daniell from Vredekloof turned 100 this week, a day she celebrated with her family in high spirits. PHOTO: Desirée Rorke

Making it to 100 years is no easy feat, but keeping a positive outlook on life goes a long way, says centenarian Catharina Daniell from Vredekloof.

Ahead of her 100th birthday on 26 July, the Vredekoof City Improvement District surprised her at her home with chocolates and a bouquet of flowers.

Although merely five foot in her socks the indelible Katy, as she is known by friends and family, stands tall, and if good cheer and a sense of humour is the secret to longevity, Katy has bundles of it.

“Truth be spoken I don’t know how I got here, but it helps to be positive. I think old age is either a reward for hard work or a punishment for sin, I’m yet to work out which,” she says during a chatty interview with TygerBurger.

Katy and her husband moved to Cape Town in 1960 from Worcester, after having lived all over South Africa – from Krugersdorp to Klerksdorp – as her husband who worked for the bank was transferred around the country.

“We lived everywhere in many provinces. We even lived on a farm in the Karoo for several years,” she says.

But it is especially her childhood on the farm Goedgevondend near Potchefstroom in the old Transvaal she thinks of with much fondness and clarity as she gets older. She recalls these memories with a twinkle in her eye.

“My short term memory is not that good and often times I have to count on my fingers, but these days I remember my childhood clearly. I remember how we played on the farm and I even remember my first hiding when I pulled a table cloth out from under a tea set and broke it. And then there was the old parrot at a house on the way to school we kids used to talk to. I once said to him ‘Hello Polly’ to which he responded ‘Piss off!’ We all roared with laughter.”

Katy’s husband passed away in 1995, and she remained living alone in her house in Vredekloof until just before the pandemic struck, still driving well into her eighties.

“He died just a few years short of our 50th wedding anniversary, and when I think back on our lives I can really say mine was a fruitful life. I was always going to be a housewife being able to stay at home as I did, to bring up my children.”

Together the couple had two children, three grandchildren, and one great grandchild that is now seven years old.

But life isn’t always smooth and it is the bumps that help us find out who we are.

At the age of 50 Katy survived a bad car accident on the road to Calvinia.

She suffered broken legs, a broken back and had to undergo several operations.

“It was hard, but it was something I had to overcome, and I did, and still managed to drive until I was 85 years old. We all have our crinkles somewhere, but with a positive spirit I survived it; I am old, but I’m not ill.

“I was very young when I decided that if there is something you can’t do anything about, just forget about it and don’t let it get you down,” she says.

Katy says she owes her secret to longevity to a healthy lifestyle and a positive mindset.

“I was never a drinker and I didn’t smoke, my mother would have killed me anyway. But I was always positive, I think getting 100 years old has a lot to do with that, although I do moan a little bit sometimes.

“I loved reading and embroidery when my eye still worked, but now I love doing block word puzzles and still beat my children in Scrabble. I am very happy and I feel safe.”

On becoming 100, Katy says, “I don’t want a fuss. I want my family with me, that is what I need.”

Her daughter Anthea von Molendorff describes her mom as a very independent woman who is caring of other people’s welfare.

“I think her kindness to other people has got her this far and her sense of humour off course. Someone in a shopping centre recently asked her how she managed to get so old to which she answered: ‘Just don’t die my child, just don’t die.”

Desirée Rorke (@Dezzierorke)



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