105-year-old Florence Methlie has been the connecting link for many people throughout her lifetime. Whether she was connecting people to their loved ones via her job at the Bell Telephone Company or being the glue that held her own family together, Florence has always had a way with people.
More than a century of living gives Florence, a Masonic Village Hospice patient, quite a bit to reflect on. Like a crystal ball, when in her presence, countless individuals ask Florence for the secret to a long life. She discovered the secret to her health and longevity may be the bond she shares with her family. Raised in a family with six children, Florence took on the role of “mother” after her own mother passed away at age 56 from cancer. This motherly love didn’t stop with one generation, and she remains close with her entire family.
“She was always there for us,” Florence’s niece, Nina Gaskill, says. “If we needed anything, Aunt Florence was the one.” Nina is the daughter of Florence’s only sister, who passed away a few years ago while receiving Masonic Village Hospice services.
Florence also credits her longevity to another of her lifelong choices. “Never run to the medicine cabinet,” she says. Florence never took medications for her ailments, unless she truly needed them. This, coupled with a steady exercise routine and a healthy diet (although she has always loved her sweets), has allowed Florence to enjoy life for more than a century.
However, life at 105 can be bittersweet. “It’s hard for her because she’s seen members of our family pass away, sometimes at a young age, and she wonders why it isn’t her,” Nina said. “I tell her, ‘God will take you when He’s ready.’”
After Florence reached age 100, as expected, everyday living became difficult. She started lacking energy and an appetite. Nina and Florence’s granddaughter, Jan, began visiting Florence frequently to assist her with meals and to ensure she saw the face of a loved one each day.
When Florence’s health care providers suggested the idea of hospice to Nina, she was open to it.
“I knew what hospice was all about, since I experienced it with my mother,” Nina said. “I can’t believe the level of compassion they have. I cared for my mother and my aunt, but I’m not sure I could do it for someone I don’t know. It takes a special person, for sure.”
Florence’s family believes she deserves the best quality of life. “Hospice does just that,” Nina says. Florence had met her husband, Charlie, at Bell. He had four sons, whom Florence had immediately grown close with. Today, she has a total of 15 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren. Each year is a great milestone for Florence, so, as age 105 approached, hospice staff knew they had to do something special to celebrate her.
Staff also knew Florence isn’t one who likes people to “make a fuss” over her, so they planned an intimate party for her friends and family to enjoy. The party was Phillies-themed, in honor of Florence’s favorite sports team, and featured chocolate cake, requested by Florence herself.
“What hospice did that day was truly special,” Nina said. “They’re so good with her. I would recommend hospice to anyone. If you have a need, you should call hospice, if nothing else, to help you as a caregiver.”
A family of strong faith, Florence’s loved ones do not dwell on the future. They realize her memories and the connections she has made with others will always remain.