June 25th, 2024

Doing what you love secret to longevity for city centenarian

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on February 14, 2023.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Catherine Tompkins, the founder of Tompkins Jewellers, celebrated her 100th birthday on Friday with her daughters Annette and Lisa Tompkins.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Founder of Tompkins Jewellers, Catherine Tompkins celebrated a big milestone Friday at the place she calls one of the highlights of her life after her family.

Tompkins celebrated her 100th birthday Friday, and she spoke to the Herald about her many accomplishments and secrets to stay healthy and happy while accompanied by her daughters Lisa and Annette Tompkins.

Tompkins, who opened the jewelry store in 1983, said one of her secrets to longevity is to do what you love every day and that is why she did not retire until she was 80 years old.

“I worked many hours every day, day in and day out, in order for the business to grow and reach the stage where I could hire more employees. Eventually I decided to leave and let them run it, family members actually,” said Catherine.

Before opening Tompkins Jewellers, she raised seven children with her husband Patrick, who became her business partner once the store opened.

When asked about her milestone, she said she had been celebrating all day Friday.

“I’ve celebrated all day, with cake and flowers and a little bit of wine,” said Catherine.

She said that was just for celebration as her secret to live long was to eat a healthy meal three times a day.

“Occasionally some wine, because wine is good for you. And my faith is important and being surrounded by family,” said Catherine about her secrets to longevity.

She said another important tip is to work hard doing what you like, as she did throughout her life.

“I’ve certainly had a good life. I worked hard, I got into businesses that I liked, I started a gift gallery, then from there I got into the jewelry business as I just kept on going type of thing and that is kept me alive and alert and enjoying life,” said Catherine.

Her daughter Annette added that Catherine practices brain gym, a series of exercises to keep her brain healthy while moving.

Annette said she was one of the middle children, along with her twin sister but when they were one-year old, she gained a new brother so her mom was basically raising triplets at the time. And she is privileged to have her mom around for this long.

“It’s very much a privilege and she always come out with something profound, and recently quite witty. She’s developed quite a sense of humour and it’s indicative I think that she’s enjoying her days and we’ve been very blessed having the Ukrainian girls who are youthful and happy being with her and around her because I think it’s bringing out her humour and her happiness,” said Annette.

She said she helps her mom Catherine with the brain exercises and have been doing so for the last 20 years.

“Sometimes she’ll say I’m not going to have a shower, and then we do a few sequence movements that shift her out of the ‘I’m not going to’ to ‘OK let’s go,'” said Annette.

 She said she also massages her mother’s feet helping her stay healthy by pressing on certain spots of the feet that are acupressure points for the internal organs.

“She doesn’t take any medication, she can walk by herself, she doesn’t have a walker, she can get herself dressed, she can feed herself, and she loves doing word searches,” said Annette.

She said one highlight of her mother’s life was the fact that she was instrumental in bringing ammolite to the jewelry industry and to promote it across southern Alberta for over 30 years.

Lisa Tompkins said she believes her mom’s caregivers also contribute to her longevity.

“I think we can attribute that to the fact that she has 24-hour care and can stay in her own home and the girls really love her and treat her like their own grandmother,” said Lisa.

She was referring to Ukrainian sisters Medina Kononenko and Anna Vovk, who have been taking care of Catherine since April 2022, after fleeing their country’s war.

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