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How to Live a Long & Healthy Life: Lessons from 90-Year-Old Ginnie Wilder

how to live longer and healthier keep

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

A few days ago, I was at my stepson’s house for Christmas dinner.  Most of his wife’s family was there, including Grandma Ginnie, who came up from California for the holidays.

We were all chatting and my stepson mentioned Grandma Ginnie’s 90th birthday party.  Well, my jaw dropped.  I’ve been around 90 year olds at weddings, and they always seemed old, frail, confused, and… well… old.  But, not Ginnie.

Except for Ginnie’s wrinkles, which curl up in sweet bunches when she smiles; Ginnie looks and acts like she’s 60… or maybe 70.  Possibly, at the topmost, in her mid-70s. So, I had to ask again, “How old are you, Ginnie?”  She told me 90.  I asked Ginnie’s daughter, Terrie, because I thought Ginnie might be senile or something, and her daughter confirmed Ginnie’s age.  Well, right there, I knew I had to find out this woman’s secret to living a long, healthy life.

As the family sat around the dinner table enjoying a wonderful meal, we prompted Ginnie to talk about her childhood.

Ginnie’s Early Years

Ginnie grew up on her family’s wheat farm outside of New England, North Dakota, a town that has (according the 2010 census) a population of 600.

And then, everyone at the table started raving about Grandma Ginnie’s cooking (an art which has been passed down to daughter Terrie and granddaughter Becky), so I asked Ginnie how she learned to cook. Well, she just grew up around it.

how to live to 100

Ginnie’s mother was always cooking or baking because there were eight people to feed: four girls, two boys and two parents. However, during the wheat harvest, Ginnie’s mom also cooked for 15 extra harvesters.  So, for several weeks each year, Ginnie's mother rose at 4:00 am to bake bread and make breakfast for 23 hungry people.  And, she fed those harvesters five meals a day: breakfast, snack (sandwiches made with that home-baked bread), dinner (we call it lunch), snack (more sandwiches), and supper.  And, Ginnie’s family lived so far out in the country that it was a major deal to go into town... so they made all of their food from scratch.

Ginnie grew up doing lots of farm chores, like collecting eggs from the chickens every day.  And, when she was about nine, another chore was to chop the heads off the chickens and pluck their feathers, after dunking the body in hot water… (continue to page 2)


Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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  1. Ewa

    Hello Tina
    Your article confirms what I believe are the ingredients of a "good life". Ginnie achievements include loving family, happy marriage, connection with nature, real nutrition, food security...and good genes Into
    the bargain!
    This is what most women aspire to. Simple, but rare.