Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Turning 106 the icing on the cake for May

May Lowe may not officially be a supercentenarian – the term given to people over 110 – but living independently at 106 certainly qualifies her as ‘super’.

The Kew resident still lives in her own one-bedroom apartment with strong family support, with Bolton Clarke nurses providing home care and help with the shopping under her Home Care Package.

After celebrating her most recent birthday in May, she has reflected on a lifetime of memories – including watching The Beatles outside the Southern Cross Hotel in 1964 – and still enjoys making new ones.

May says each day she is thankful for her long life.

“I wake up every morning and thank, goodness, I’m alive,” she says.

“Every day is a bonus.

“I’ve seen a bit of the world (Asia, Europe and “beautiful” London) and my children are all very kind to me – one does the shopping, and one does… let’s just say I have jobs for them all.”

Speaking at her Rylands of Kew Retirement Village home in Melbourne, she recalls a Port Melbourne childhood in far less stately surrounds: a two-bedroom house shared with her mother, father and eight younger siblings.

“It was cramped, but Mum bought blinds for the veranda and back porch, where two of the boys slept. The rest of us shared the other rooms,” says May.

She enjoyed giving more, not least the soup doled from a billy to needy residents of her grandmother’s nearby boarding house, which led to a rich and rewarding community life.

“People were struggling terribly back then,” she says. “But when the war broke out, it created a lot of work and things got better,” she says.

“Prior to my marriage I worked in Flinders Lane making clothes. I did everything but use the cutter. I loved working there. I think the factory is apartments now. Everything’s from China these days.”

She has given plenty back to her community over the years, including volunteering for 20 years with Meals on Wheels and raising thousands of dollars for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, which presented her with a framed a certificate of thanks. 

Early in World War II she married Reginald Lowe, a bricklayer with a soft heart. While the War disrupted their early marriage – Reginald was sent to Queensland to build ammunition factories – they eventually raised four children in the Albert Park home they shared for 55 years.

Her son, Rob Lowe says May is a great example of person living the good life independently.

“The reason I think she has lived so long is because she walked everywhere and never smoked and is gifted with a healthy attitude,” he says.

“She still knows what is going on today especially when it comes to Australian Rules football and the Sydney Swans. 

“She was born during World War I, lived through World War II and even survived COVID  and was up the next week, and she never complains despite going through so much in her life.”

Latest Articles