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This article was published 9/2/2019 (984 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
BRANDON — Hazel Skuce celebrated her birthday Thursday with her younger sister, Clara Hornibrook.
The remarkable part: Skuce is 107, Hornibrook is 105.
"I feel all right," Skuce shrugged, as friends and family gathered in a room at Hillcrest Place personal care home for ice cream cake.
Confined to a wheelchair, the former longtime teacher is hard of hearing, but her eyes sparkle as a reporter asks about her life.
Born in 1912, she and her two sisters lived with their parents a few kilometres from Rivers (30 kilometres northwest of Brandon) and attended a one-room country schoolhouse. She recalled the five-kilometre-plus hike to school — except, of course, when it got too cold.
"We wanted to walk, but they (her parents) didn’t want us to walk," she said with a laugh.
Skuce would go on to teach in many rural schools, as well some in the Brandon area.
"Yes, I enjoyed my work," she said, "but I just wondered if I was doing a decent job."
There were, of course, occasions when teachers would like to "kick all the little brats out," Skuce said with a chuckle.
Her first husband, Dick Patmore, ran a nursery in Brandon. He died and she remarried, but never had any children of her own.
Birds were her passion, and for 40 years she was a member of the local naturalist society, where she made lots of lifetime friends.
When asked the perfunctory question about her secret to a long life, Skuce said there really isn’t one.
"I think what happens, happens," she said. "I’m just happy today and the next day and so on."
Asked if longevity has nothing to do with staying away from booze, Skuce broke into hearty laughter. "No! That isn’t anything, really, in my life."
Despite living in the same city, the two sisters said they don’t see much of each other.
Hornibrook lives at Lions Manor retirement home, and after being wheeled into the room Thursday, she stood up and gave her big sister a hug.
"I’ve got hearing aids, but I’m deaf," the former nurse said after being introduced to a reporter.
In addition to teaching at various hospitals in the United States and Rivers, Hornibrook used to dabble in art.
"I used to be drawing landscapes a lot, but now, because of my sight, I don’t do any of it," she said with a smile.
Hornibrook said she didn’t expect to be celebrating her sister’s 107th birthday when she, herself, was 105.
Once, while working in a hospital, she met a man who was 90, she said.
"And I said to him, ‘Oh, isn’t that something? You’re 90.’ And he laughed," she said. "Nowadays, you don’t think that 90 is old, do you?"
— Brandon Sun