Crafts keep her young

2011-10-13 00:00

AT 87, Estelle Hundley has more energy than women half her age. Until a few years ago she was walking to the shops to do her grocery shopping and catching a local minibus taxi back home.

“I’m not sure what all the fuss was. People would say I was mad!”

This gogo has guts, and she says it’s all to do with keeping herself busy and active.

At her pretty Scottsville flat she is the treasurer of the body corporate and makes sure the complex is run in an orderly manner. It is neat and the garden is a profusion of flowers and bushes, but the garden service cannot claim all the credit. Hundley has green fingers.

Her purple orchids are exquisite and she has been nurturing the air plants in the trees which are about to come into bloom. Her love of life and her need to keep busy are why she is always crocheting and making things. She has refused to go to an old-age home because “old people go there”.

Hundley contacted The Witness to urge young people to take up a craft or hobby.

“I retired to this flat 14 years ago when my husband died and I expected that I would have time to rest and put my feet up. But I never have time to sit down.”

She likes to get up in the cool mornings to water the garden and she is always cutting off shoots to propagate new plants. Her balcony is full of pot plants ready to take up residence at her son’s house.

In the kitchen she makes her granddaughter tomato jam from the sweet tree tomatoes and she knows these supplies don’t last long. She loves to crochet and these skills are in demand, as she now has 12 great-grandchildren.

In her home she has photographs of her family, and even while chatting her hands are never still.

“I believe that you only age when you feel useless and as long as you keep doing something you are able to keep going.

“I raised four sons and I taught myself many crafts from books. The trick is to sit down and try to do it until it feels right. You get such a sense of accomplishment from being able to make something. When I was a young girl my sister and I would make our own clothes and when I was 11 years old I once stayed up all night with my sister knitting a new jersey for the tennis club dance.

“These days children don’t appreciate what they have and they don’t have to make what they need, they just buy it. In our day we had to learn how to make things and we valued them.”

Hundley says she has an active interest in people and she likes pleasant company.

“I have adapted to the new South Africa. I don’t mind the change. But most old people moan and groan, and like to feel miserable and gossip about each other. I think we should all be doing crafts and sharing stories. Keep the mind busy and the tongue won’t have time to create idle gossip. Young people never have time. They are too busy getting stressed and old people have too much time. It’s all back to front.”

As I leave she goes back inside to make lunch for her sister who is visiting soon. She is 91.

 

• trish.beaver@witness.co.za

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