Name: Donna Anderson
Where we found her: Writing class
You aren't truly random to me. I've interviewed you before, but about your memories of growing up in the 1920s. I'd like to know how you're doing now. What do you think about COVID-19 and quarantine? I don't know how to explain it in words—I've never seen anything like it. I was born in 1919, just after the end of WWI, so I missed the 1918 flu. I can remember the polio epidemic. That's the closest thing, but it really is two different entities—[the polio epidemic and COVID]. My girlfriend was a nurse and she actually had a patient who was in an iron lung in her kitchen. This girlfriend had three boys and two of them got polio. One was affected terribly. Thank goodness for Jonas Salk and his vaccine. … And I'm hoping and praying for these researchers and laboratory workers. I pray every night for the Lord to whisper the answer to them for a vaccine. Despite it all—and these three months have been tough—I still feel like I'm blessed. I have my mind and my memory, lots to eat, a place to sleep, good friends, and a wonderful family.
You're such a social, busy person, but you aren't allowed to have visitors right now. How are you coping? My grandson lives down in Stewartville. He brought me some groceries and he stood over on the sidewalk [many feet from my back patio] with his mask on. I wanted him to come in so bad. That really was one of the saddest things. He couldn't come in and he wouldn't because it was against the rules.
How are you passing your time? I read a lot. I walk. I have a lot of telephone calls. I have a TV and my computer and get lots of emails. I'm still in contact with a friend who lives in Cyprus. I met her when my husband and I were in Israel. She was a young girl with her mother, and we've been in contact all these years. She's now 70 years old. She recently sent me a picture of her and all these flowers in Cyprus. I'm blessed.
You walk for exercise? When it was cold, I walked in the building—up on the third floor you can walk from one end to the other. When it got nicer, I was able to be outside. I have a patio out of my apartment [at The Homestead] and there are sidewalks out here but you can't have people who don't live here walk here now. It is what it is. I hope this doesn't last all summer.
What are you looking forward to after quarantine is over? Seeing friends and family. And I miss church at Bethel. Every Sunday, the preachers and an organist are there on my computer. So I get to go to church that way. Starting soon, they're going to have a drive-in service through car radios and at the end you drive by for communion. Absolution through the radio! A friend offered to pick me up and wear a mask and sanitize a sheet for me to sit on. But I don't know if I'll be able to go yet. They do really care for you here [at Homestead] and that's why they have the rules. They want to keep us safe. But I sure hope I can go.
Tell me about your travels? I've done an awful lot of traveling in my life. My daughter Tarja flies for Delta Airlines. When she first started there, it was eight years before she got married, so my husband and I were her traveling companions and we would go on these Delta tours. I've been to almost every continent. I've ridden a camel in Africa. I've looked in a volcano in Hawaii. I've walked on a glacier in Alaska. I saw The Last Supper in Milan. I've waded in the River Jordan and swam in the Dead Sea. I've been to Macchu Pichu. Israel in the 1970s. Holland. Belgium. Scandinavia. Wales. After my husband died, my two girls and I went on six cruises. One of them was to Italy and down to Croatia and Turkey and Greece. Honest to goodness, it's like a dream. Simple little me in all these places.
Your 100th birthday party was last November. What was the highlight? Oh, that was wonderful. A gal that helped decorate took all these pictures and put them in about six little albums, and the whole day is just a wonderful memory. My 99th birthday is a wonderful memory, too, when I got to go to the Vikings game and be on the field.
How long have you been a Vikings fan? Since it started! I think that was around 1960.
You seem remarkably healthy for 100. I am blessed. But don’t get me started on my health! I've had two breast cancer surgeries. I've had a heart stent. Trigger finger surgery on nearly all my fingers and thumb. I've had two ruptured appendix—at six and 26. Really! I went in at 26 and they could see my appendix scars and everything from my surgery when I was six, so they didn't believe it could be my appendix. They sent me home and told me to put a hot water bottle on my tummy. I went back and was in the hospital for over 2-1/2 weeks with a burst appendix. I guess it grew back! It's kind of a medical miracle that I'm alive. Every night, I lie in my bed and thank the Lord for my faith, for my mind and my memory.