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St. Albert woman reflects on a century of living

Link celebrates 100th birthday by sharing life story, lessons

St. Albert resident Gerda Link paused on her 100th birthday to contemplate a century's worth of joys and hardships.

“Sometimes I wish I could walk, but without [my] walker, I’m on the floor,” Link said with a laugh. “But I find I had a good life.”

Born Feb. 1, 1924 in Poland, Link was raised on a farm near the German border. She lived with her mother, father, two brothers, one sister, and her grandparents on her mother's side. She said she learned a lot from her grandparents.

"Life was hard, but [her family] had to live," Link said.

Despite the hard times, she still had fun on the farm with her family and loved being surrounded by the animals and the big garden filled with vegetables and fruit trees.

Then the Second World War came, and Link’s life changed.

“My father got killed, and then we became German because the war was between Poland and Germany,” she said.

As Link got older, her family had more work as her mother ran the farm with her four children. The Soviets soon came, resulting in her family losing their farm and moving to southern Germany with the “horse and buggy.”

“The living was better [in southern Germany]. It was very crowded, too many people, but living was better.”

Link moved to America for four years before moving to Edmonton with her husband. Since then, she has stayed in Canada, had three daughters, and has lived life excitedly with her family, including relatives in Canada, the United States, and Germany.

“There was lots of excitement,” Link described. “Marriage, birthday parties. That was my life.”

The 100-year-old expressed her appreciation to her grandmother for teaching the life lessons she learned when she was eight years old that she still uses today. She said her grandmother’s teachings are why she has lived for this long, as she "obeyed them when she could."

Link said her grandmother advised not having ice-cold drinks or foods, not sitting on cement or concrete, and trying to take the best, or middle, path when faced with a crisis.

“Somehow, from that point on, my whole life [I] was looking out for things," Link said. "When I saw something, I imagined, ‘This could be good this way or that way. Now, take the middle.’ And somehow, all things [went] right.”

Link said she enjoys watching and learning from others, whether from their actions or conversations and takes what will benefit her the most. She said that’s how she got the ‘sixth sense’ of being able to watch out for specific people and said she’s "somehow" usually right.

“Sometimes, you get something that’s said to you," Link said. "'Be careful for this person; watch out.'”

Link said she hopes to live to 105, as she would "like to see what will happen [for] a long time."

As she reflected, Link said she went through life appreciating her family and spending time with her six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, learning and seeing many things, and enjoying the best moments to the fullest.

“I think I made a good life," she said. "Hard times, but then, in the end, it was good. And I made the right decisions. I wouldn’t change it. Because what you did from young until now, so long as you live, makes the life. You start young, you learn. Then that’s the end.”

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