This is the message she delivered from Rancho La Puerta, the spa she opened in Tecate, Mexico, with her husband when she was 17.—Chaz Ebert
Yes, today is my 100th birthday
by Deborah Szekely
I woke up early at Rancho La Puerta, listening to the sounds of something happening on the lawn outside my casita, just like I did when Sarah and Alex were little. “Hush,” I whispered to them. “Let’s get dressed!” At the time we allowed cars on the property so I could hear many doors closing softly. Staff members were arriving. Tables were set with large pots of hot chocolate. The tamales and conches we are ready.
At 7am I walked out the front door still in my bathrobe (a tradition) and was greeted by a full-voiced mariachi band, trumpet blaring over the hills, big bass guitar thumping, the violins resounding. The patio had been transformed into a cradle of flowers. And a dear friend, José Lupe, brings me a rose for every year of my life since I was in my thirties. What a wonderful way to start the day!
The dew was on the grass. The sunrise leaned toward Mount Kuchumaa, painting it a muted, mystical indigo. Several hundred voices began to sing Las Mananitasthe Mexican tradition of birthdays.
Despierta, mi bien, despierta. Wake up, darling, wake up.
In the middle of all the greetings and enjoying a hot chocolate and conches, I realized: I’m a statistic and a curiosity – only 1.73 of us (from me!) per 10,000 people live that long. 100! For me, it’s just a number on paper. I cannot accept it. I can in no way be 100!
My gratitude for my long life is inexpressible. The number, however, makes no sense to me. Here I am at 100, but I still feel like the young woman who arrived here with Edmond in 1940. I still make endless decisions in my life, big and small. So much is still expected of me, and I expect a lot of myself. I am totally unprepared to be this “old”. On the one hand, so many people come to me and ask me what my secret is, what words of wisdom I can share. And I’m speechless.