By Lethbridge Herald on May 20, 2019.
Living through an entire century only happens to a lucky few. Irene Shippobotham is one of the 5.9 per cent of women who can say she has made it to 100 years old, as she celebrated her century on Earth, Saturday afternoon.
Shippobotham lived in the Bow Island area in her early years, when she moved to Lethbridge at the age of 18. She was a dedicated wife to her late husband for 51 years, and worked as an accountant for the Bigelow Fowler Clinic for 25 years, until she retired in 1972. Throughout her time, she never thought she would live to say she was a century old, but she is happy to say she did, and she did it in all good health.
“I can not complain. I think about how I have fairly good health and so many people get to this age that aren’t this healthy,” says Shippobotham. “I never thought I would live to see 100 years, but my father lived to 102 years old so I have the genes, I guess, whether I want to go to 102 or not remains to be seen, but if my health stays good I’ll be happy because I don’t want to be bedridden which happens to a lot of people.”
Shippobotham has enjoyed her life, whether spending it with her family and friends, walking around town, or exploring the world, she has no regrets. Her favourite part of her life has been the freedom of retirement. During her earned break from work, she and her husband travelled the country in their motorhome or flew across seas to explore new lands.
“Everybody has bad experiences in their life, but I have had a good life and a happy life, a happy marriage that lasted almost 51 years,” she says. “A big part of my retirement was travelling. We had a motorhome that we travelled around in with another couple and I think you have a better time if you have somebody to go with you and share things. My hubby and I also had several trips overseas and we went mostly to Britain and I really loved spending time in Ireland because it was so green and beautiful and I liked the way they tried to preserve some of the old buildings.”
Keeping busy is one of the ways Shippobotham has remained happy and healthy. Whether it was trips to see family, or the two-kilometre walks every day, she always finds some way to keep busy. Although keeping busy and active is an important way for a long-lived life, Shippobotham says they key to life is to make the most out of every situation and to try to be happy.
“One thing for sure is to keep busy. I think once you sort of relax and take it easy, that is not good for you because I think you age faster. I have always been busy and I’m still busy,” says Shippobotham. “Try and be happy, no matter what your circumstances are. I think everyone should try and be happy because it helps you to get over things better then sitting and thinking why this happened.”
Family and friends joined with Shippobotham to celebrate a century of achievement. She continues to be active every day and helps out where she can, including knitting toques and gloves for charities in need at Christmas. With plenty of time left on the clock, Shippobotham hopes to remain happy and healthy and spend time with loved ones.