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Sunday Seniors: On the verge of 102, Marge Mayo is still flooring it

  • Margaret Mayo, of Windsor, will turn 102 on Aug. 4. (Valley News -- Liz Sauchelli) Valley News — Liz Sauchelli

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/24/2021 9:49:53 PM
Modified: 7/24/2021 9:49:53 PM

Margaret “Marge” Mayo decided to redo her kitchen floor herself this year.

Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be a big deal. But Mayo is turning 102 on Aug. 4 and thought nothing of taking the project on herself.

“My floor had been chipping off and my feet stick to it,” she said. “I can (only) do one strip at a time because it tires my hip, but I do it anyway.”

As to how she feels about turning 102?

“It’s natural,” she said with a shrug. “It’s hard for me to believe.”

Mayo was born in Whitehall, N.Y., just across the border from Vermont. She moved to Windsor in 1948 when her husband, Earl, was hired to run a gas plant in town. They initially lived with their two sons in an old schoolhouse.

“I just like everybody here,” she said during an interview at the single-story home with a finished basement that she’s lived in since the 1970s. “I just was friendly with everybody.”

Mayo’s childhood was not an easy one: Her mother was often sick and in bed, leaving Mayo to care for her younger siblings.

“I quit school in the eighth grade, and then I bought books and taught myself everything I knew,” she said. She never told her parents she wasn’t going to return to school: She simply didn’t go back because she saw her family needed her: “I never had a childhood. I learned to cook and do everything.”

She taught herself to sew and upholster, skills that would come in handy in Windsor as she built a career as a seamstress once her second son was born. She’d complete alterations such as hemming or fixing zippers, making clothes from scratch and reupholstering furniture, among other projects. She keeps letters of thanks from people she’s sewed for over the decades.

“It’s hard to believe when you get old like this; it’s hard to believe that you’ve done so much and you know, and how did I do that? And who taught you to do it? Nobody. I taught myself out of the books,” Mayo said, sitting on a curved pink couch she reupholstered herself three years ago.

At one point, she installed a room separator so people would not lean or sit on the back of the couch.

“I guess I was made for this world to do things,” she said.

Mayo would often visit friends and bring them baked goods at Genesis, a nursing care facility in Lebanon, where she became friendly with many of the residents.

“I did for them anything I could,” she said.

Marge and Earl were married during World War II, shortly before Earl spent three years fighting in the war. Prior to his death in 1986, she spent 12 years caring for him as he battled cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Over the years, health care providers have suggested she make changes to her home. She’s been told not to go up and down her basement stairs and to pull up the rugs in her home to make it easier to maneuver if she needs to use a walker. They wanted her to replace the glass doors of her shower.

“I said, ‘Don’t you touch a thing,’ ” she recalled.

She takes only three pills a day, to help with her pacemaker.

“I truthfully feel good.”

Mayo still prepares her own meals. When she turned 100, she decided to stop driving and gave her vehicle to her grandson. She also has three granddaughters.

She keeps busy throughout the day by sewing, baking, reading and housework. She freezes some of what she bakes to give to friends over the holidays. She used to garden and, up until around five years ago, mowed her own lawn.

“I work until my body tells me I’m tired, I’ve got to sit down,” Mayo said. “I think this is what’s keeping me going so, I sit down for 15 minutes, then I get up whether I want to or not and start working until I get that urge that I’ve worked too much. Then I sit down. And I think that’s the thing that’s helped me to get as far as I have.”

Do you know someone who would be interested in being featured in a future senior profile? Contact Liz Sauchelli at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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