“I lived my life to the fullest,” says Agnes Bezuidenhoudt, of Kenilworth, who celebrated her 100th birthday on Monday September 20.
Agnes was born in Kimberley, the youngest of seven siblings, who have all since died. She married William Bezuidenhoudt, who died 26 years ago at the age of 80.
She has three sons, Arnold, 79, Gerald, 78 and Beresford, 74, and two daughters, Glenda Lourens, 70, and Mercia Bezuidenhout, 65, as well as 15 grandchildren, 31 great grandchildren and four great great grandchildren.
Agnes says she has always been very active, and did sprints, hurdles and long-jump; played netball and tennis; and swam during her youth at the Perseverance School in Kimberley.
She recalls starting work at a bullet factory at the age of 18 and would cycle to work.
“Growing up in Kimberley during that era, we felt the love and peace with family and friends; we feared nothing, and there wasn’t any violence in the area,” she says.
As a young woman, she enjoyed ballroom dancing. William was a soldier and was part of the army band; he played the saxophone, violin and clarinet.
Over the years, Agnes has lived in Nababeep in Namaqualand, then Retreat, Silvertown, Grassy Park and Kenilworth .
“I settled down in Cape Town because all my children were here, the boys were working and the girls were in college, and it made more sense to be near the family,” she says.
She worked at the Western Cape Blood Service on the Foreshore for 25 years and retired when she was 75.
“I started working there when I saw that my children were all settled and married, so I applied for work there, and it was 20 years of joy,” she says, adding that she made many friends over the years, both through her work and as a member of the Good Shepherd Church in Grassy Park.
Now at 100 years young, she still enjoys dancing in her flat and she attributes five things to her long life. “I lived one day at a time, I thanked the Lord above every day, I lived my life to the fullest, I lived healthy and I lived happy.”
She enjoys karaoke, visiting flea markets and going for long drives with her family, although her travels have been somewhat restricted during the pandemic.
“I stayed indoors, I did my morning stretches, I made my own breakfast, I meditated and I made sure that every day that Mercia was at work, I would call her at noon to let her know that I am fine,” she says.
All her other children would also keep daily contact with her.
Mercia, who has been staying with her mother for the past 26 years, says she still shares a special bond with her mom. “I feel privileged that I could be the one to look after her for all these years,” she says.
Agnes’s family held a drive-by her home on Sunday to celebrate her big day, and later a handful of them gathered for a small braai.