Determination keeps Grace full of zest
By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au
AFTER 105 years of living, you could be excused for assuming Grace Tappenden would have lost some of her zest, but you would be wrong.
Sitting in the lounge of her daughter Flo's house surrounded by her family, Grace takes a swipe at her son for making a smart remark, but misses.
"You're lucky that one missed you, it would have broken three of your ribs,'' she says with a smile.
Yesterday, the local centenarian notched up yet another birthday as Gladstone's oldest living citizen.
"Yeah I think it's a pretty good thing,'' was Grace's modest answer when asked if she thought 105 years was a big achievement.
And how much longer can she go?
"I'll go until they stop me.''
After living through two world wars, the 1930s Depression and having to deal with countless droughts while working the farm at Mt Larcom, it is Grace's determination that she attributes her longevity to.
"I just lay low and keep going, determination is the key,'' she explained.
Grace called on that determination many times in her life, but one occasion that is firmly implanted in her mind was when Australia was sent to fight alongside its British allies in World War I in 1915.
At just 15 years of age Grace's life was touched by a war far away from the peace of their farm at Bouldercombe, when two of her brothers were sent to the front line, leaving the work up to her and her sister.
Despite long hours and plenty of hard work, it is the days she spent on the farm that she considers her best.
"We had two brothers go to the war, so it was left to me and my sister to do the work, we had it (work) morning to night,'' she said.
"But then if there was a dance on or a dog fight, we would still manage to get to it.
"We had a very good time out there, I wouldn't mind having it over again.''
On Saturday night at the Yaralla Sports Club, more than 60 friends and family joined to help Grace celebrate her 105-year achievement.
She even managed a song, entertaining the crowd with her rendition of Suvla Bay, a song from the time of the First World War.