We moved to Elkwater in May or June 1980 for my father's job as a park ranger. I was almost 7 years old. Mrs Hansen was already 81 years old by then, born March 25, 1899. It was so fun going to her house, up on the last/top road of the small town. She still had one of those old washing machines where you pull the clothing out and put it through the big wringer with a crank on it :) She did not want to bother with a fancy new one because 'the old one still worked'. She baked the best Ginger Snap cookies ever and loved to serve tea to her visitors with her pretty china. I remember her sitting down to listen to her afternoon Gospel programs on the radio. I do not recall the television being on in her house, but she did have one. Perhaps it was on a few times? :) I also remember sneaking into her bathroom when I was a teenager, to see if I could find the secret to her beautiful smooth skin. She was near 90 years old by then, and I was sure there must be a secret ingredient to longevity - I found Ponds cold cream and Noxema and that's it. So I have always kept in my mind that those are the two brands to stick to for nice soft skin even when you have lived for 9 decades :)
We spent a lot of time at Mrs Hansen's house when I was growing up. Living in Elkwater, we all had wildlife in our yards (and sometimes walking in our homes lol) but at Cora's house they seemed to congregate the most. She had Wild Turkeys wandering around in the yard in fall and winter, tons of little birdies at the feeders, deer relaxing in her garden, etc. My brother and I would play there for hours. Sometimes I was bored but that's because it was so quiet and calm and relaxed ALL the time at her home. Now I would cherish to have some of that utter peace in my life. Mrs H gave that to us for many years.
I remember a funny story from when I was a bit older. I had gone to visit her and needed to use the phone to call my mom. I did not know that Mrs Hansen had a hearing device attached to the phone and I nearly fell on the floor from the intense volume as my mom answered on the other end lol. Instead I flung the phone in the air and fiddled around until I could find the volume control :) Phew! Hearing loss was about the only thing that made you realize Mrs Hansen's age but that can happen to a person at any time - you would never know by looking at her or talking to her that she was approaching her mid-90s by then. I remember that she still walked down that big huge hill to get to the Post Office. I think she did it every day. She put us all to shame with her drive and stamina :)
Another story - going to visit her when I was around 19 or 20 and trying to help her clean up the dishes after she served tea and cookies. She gently tapped our hands away and refused to let us help. We were her guests. And don't even think about trying to sneak in and wash the dishes - she will catch you! I think I only managed to wash her dishes once in all those years lol.
When my oldest son was almost a year old, my mom and I took him to visit her and someone got a photo of Mrs Hansen, my mom, me and my son. In one photo Mrs H is laughing because little Kevin is trying to steal her walking cane. In the photo she is 99 years old and you would never believe it. That was 1998:
Mrs Hansen attended my wedding shower in 1992 and we dressed each other up in toilet paper as 'brides'. I have to find that photo in my mom's collection. If memory serves me correctly, Cora won for most beautiful toilet paper bride :)
When Mrs Hansen moved into the city eventually, we went to visit her at my dad's former secretary's house and Mrs H was using one of those little wax boards to write on so she would not waste paper :) We could write our comments or questions on it and then she would answer us verbally due to her hearing loss - but the rest of the time she would just laugh and smile because even though she could not hear us, she was part of the conversation :)
I have never met anyone like her before and I doubt I will ever again. A wonderful caring woman. My mom wrote something and shared it with her email friends and I am going to post it next. My mom and Mrs Hansen shared a love for God so a lot of it is religious but that is okay because that is who Cora was :) I will miss her but I know that it was time for her to go home. Rest peacefully Mrs Hansen. You are an inspiration to everyone you have ever met, and everyone that you haven't xxxx
By my mom:
I just got a call from my deceased husband's secretary,
my dear friend Mrs.Cora Hansen, 113 yrs. old passed away this morning.
I wanted to write about her, I met her in Elkwater, she was around 75
when I moved there. We became instant friends, she was a widow, did not drive
and we had a little old country church in Elkwater that we attended the 5 yrs. I lived there.
Mrs. Hansen had the Gift of Hospitality and Gift of Peace and Love.
She told me once we got to know each other, that she was praying for God to send
Christians to Elkwater, its a very sm. place and she felt isolated and alone and wanted
God to send some people she could fellowship with. My husband just felt led to bid on a job
there, I did not know anyone and I was not happy at the time that he got that job. She felt
I was an answer to her prayers and as time went on we grew so close together and she was a grandmother
for my children, she was so good to us. We went everywhere together for those 5 yrs. I lived there,
we went to the old fashioned country bible studies every Wed. night, drove many miles but when
she was with me I felt I was in the Presence of Angels, she was such a peaceful and absolutely fearless
Lady, I have never met anyone like her. She planted a little garden for many yrs. even into her 90's.
She had a lovely home in Elkwater, a Park 45 miles away from me now. She fed the wild turkeys,
had moose and deer sleeping on her lawn every day. She stayed alone till she was in her mid
90's, then she moved away to be with her daughter. I never saw much of her after that until
yrs. ago they put her in a home here in Med. Hat. I got to see her then. She was deaf many yrs but had
good eyesight. We would all have to write on a slate board to communicate with her. She smiles all the time,
she was so kind and gentle in her ways. She baked everything from scratch and invited me and my children
up for coffee all the time, home made bread, rolls, cookies for the kids. We had many nice times of
fellowship together. She took her turn on Weds. having the old fashioned country bible study and she loved
it all so much, had so many friends. She spent a lot of her time crocheting afgans for everyone and lap
top blankets for the elderly at nursing homes. She was a beautiful seamstress and made clothes for orphan
children oversea's, our church sent boxes over and Mrs. Hansen sewed beautiful dresses and made blankets
and did such a lovely job. Many times she would tell me she was feeling lonely, lived alone in a big house
and not a lot of company and she would ask God what to do that day and He would put ideas in her head
to sew clothes for these little orphans.
I have never been around anyone who was so fearless, she refused to worry about anything.
She prayed for Missionaries for yrs. I would go visit her and she would be down on the floor with all the letters
from Missionaries all laid out on the floor praying for each one, she was in her 80's then. She had good health,
she was Norweigan and all her family lived long yrs. but nothing as long as her. Just this past
March she turned 113, had visits from the Mayor and was told she was the oldest living resident in Canada.
They had a beautiful writeup in our Newspaper about her in March which I will always save.
I did not see much of her these past few yrs but she will be forever in my memory as she was like a Saint
to me. I definately have to be at her funeral. She had one daughter who was a nurse and a very kind woman.
She has 2 grandchildren and a few great grand children. She will be missed by so many. She always told me
she never felt she did enough for the Lord because she was so quiet and could not speak much, words did not
come easy for her but her Presence and the Peace around her spoke volumns. When I walked in her home,
I had such a calm feeling, warm and loving. She handed out tracts everywhere we went as she said I can't speak
the words but I will give them gospel tracts.
I recall travelling with her to Med. Hat for groceries and getting caught in blizzards, we could not see the road
and I would be very nervous driving and she would always say "don't worry, God is with us Mary Ann".
I will miss her so much. They said this past year her health was failing and I was wondering why God kept her
alive so long, she told me when she was 90 and we were celebrating her BD then she did not want to live
a lot longer, she longed to be with Jesus. I had a strong feeling this past few months she was going to go Home
to be with the Lord soon. I can't wait to see her again healthy and well and young. Just wanted to share
what a blessing this woman was to me and my children. She is finally at home with her Jesus.