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Celebrating a century of life

Rand Aid Tarentaal retirement village resident Mary Louise Hattingh (neé Carratu) celebrated her 100th birthday in style on 24 July, at a lovely birthday party hosted by the Tarentaal Residents’ Committee.

According to Mary’s son Gerhard, who is also a Tarentaal resident, Mary – the youngest of eight children – was born at home in Cava de’ Tirreni, in the Province of Salerno, Italy, on 24 July 1922.

After her mother died of Spanish Flu at the age of 47, her father brought his children to South Africa on the HMS Edinburgh Castle – the passenger list indicates their departure from Southampton on 7 February 1930.

When they arrived in Cape Town, Mary told her sisters and brother: “This is a beautiful place! I think we should stay in this country.”

“And we did, for the rest of our lives,” says Mary.

While Nigel was their first destination, the family later moved to Braamfontein, where Mary attended the convent run by the King Dominicans. As a young adult, Mary moved to Malvern East to stay with her oldest sister, and they were actively involved in the local parish, run by the Paulist Missionary Priests from the USA.

Mary married Vic Hattingh in 1947 and they had three sons, Gerhard, Michael and John, who all grew up in Springs. In 1985, she relocated to Edenvale and, 25 years ago, became a resident at Tarentaal Retirement Village in 1997.

Her ‘secret’ to living a long life? While some swear by a daily whiskey, Mary says alcohol doesn’t get you there! She says hard, physical housework throughout her life gave her an extremely strong heart. And it’s still going strong today.

She is gracious to God who, she says, has looked after her over the years and allowed her to live to 100. When she gets to Heaven, she says she will ask God ‘why?’, because most of her friends are already there.

Mary Hattingh on her 100th birthday.

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