Lucy Merrick's 100th Birthday a Major Life Celebration
Merrick has done lots of volunteer work over the years and now lives at Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley at 6300 Greene St.
For Lucy Merrick, the day of her 100th birthday wasn't different from any other.
But things have changed for her over the past century. She's had a full career being a nurse before becoming an advocate with Action Alliance for Senior Citizens, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of seniors.
Merrick also has a large family, many of whom came to Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley at 6300 Greene St. Saturday for the party. That's where she lives.
They dined on lasagna, potatoes and cake and, one by one, came over to say hi to Merrick, who sat at a table, balloons tied to her wheelchair.
"Happy birthday, meemaw," they said. Others were more direct about Merrick's role in their lives.
"She's been a wonderful mother," her daughter, Jeanne Brown, said. "We're just so proud of her for reaching this age."
It wasn't just her family saying hello. A woman from Councilwoman Cindy Bass' office was there to congratulate her and present her with a proclimation that was put forth to recognize her achivements in City Hall.
Merrick said Saturday that Action Alliance was founded right around the same time that AARP came into existence.
"I said, 'Well, I have a little money, a little energy, a little time, and I'll get out and work with them,'" she said.
She went to City Council sessions to advocate on behalf of seniors concerned with proposed electric, gas and water rate increases, and she traveled to Harrisburg to speak to representatives about the adverse affects of state legislation on the senior population.
Merrick also helped to launch a program to offer free bus transportation and greatly-reduced train fares for seniors. She was also a member of the team that secured fair employment and healthcare benefits for the disabled.
On her milestone birthday, she didn't necessarily expect much. But the recreation room at the Stapeley facility was packed with friends, well-wishers and family.
"I didn't expect all this," she said.
Her family primarily organized it. Brown said her mother had shown surprise when she realized the extent of the celebration.
But she was happy to see it, and remains happy today, even as she deals with arthritis and dimming vision.
She said there's one big thing that's changed over the past 100 years.
"The attitude of people, as I have grown as an adult—I think the attitude of our people is not as thoughtful, caring," she said.
But people were certainly being caring toward her on Saturday. Merrick remains thankful, and said the people close to her have reminded her of what's important.
"My son said, 'You can still talk,'" Merrick said with a smile.