Here is the message she delivered from Rancho La Puerta, the spa she started in Tecate, Mexico, with her husband when she was 17 years old.—Chaz Ebert
Yes, Today is My 100th Birthday
by Deborah Szekely
I awoke early at Rancho La Puerta, listening for the sounds of something happening on the lawn outside my casita just as I did when Sarah and Alex were little. “Shush,” I would whisper to them. “Let’s get dressed!” Back then, we allowed cars on the property, so I could hear many doors being closed gently. Staff members were arriving. Tables were being set up with big pots of hot chocolate. The tamales and conchas were ready.
At 7:00 a.m., I came out the front door still in my bathrobe (a tradition) and was greeted by a mariachi band in full voice, trumpet echoing off the hills, big bass guitar thumping, violins keening. The patio had been turned into a bower of flowers. And one dear friend, José Lupe, has brought me one rose per year of my life since I was in my 30s. What a wonderful way to start the day!
Dew was on the grass. The sunrise slanted toward Mt. Kuchumaa, painting it a muted, mystical indigo. Several hundred voices broke into singing Las Mañanitas, the Mexican tradition at birthdays.
Despierta, mi bien, despierta. Wake up, my darling, wake up.
Amidst all the greetings and enjoying hot chocolate and conchas, I realized: I am a statistic and a curiosity—only 1.73 of us (of me!) per 10,000 people live this long. 100! To me, it’s only a number on paper. I cannot accept it. In no way can I 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, large and small. There is still so much expected of me, and I expect a great deal from myself. I am totally unprepared for being this “old.” For one thing, so many people come up to me and ask what my secret is, what words of wisdom I can share. And I’m speechless.