What do we as a society consider to be of great value today? The Fort Knox gold depository in Kentucky is currently storing 147.3 million ounces of gold. At current gold prices, the treasure stored at the facility is worth over $200 billion dollars. Fort Knox is holding a significant national treasure.
The National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) estimates that there are approximately 28,000 assisted living facilities in the United States that are home to over one million senior adult residents. The average age of an assisted living resident today is 83 years. The collective knowledge, life experience, and wisdom of those residents represent 83 million years. Our country’s assisted living facilities are also home to a significant national treasure.
On January 13,,2011, Agape Senior Kathwood in Columbia, South Carolina, held a birthday celebration for two of its treasured residents that had reached and surpassed the centenarian milestone. Anna Faye West turned 100 the day of the celebration and Inez Caskey turned 103 exactly one week earlier on January 6, 2011.
The birthday girls, along with approximately 30 other residents, celebrated with a delicious chocolate cake, balloons and traditional happy birthday singing. Both Anna and Inez enjoyed the festivities and extra attention from the staff and residents.
Anna Faye West was born in Etna, North Carolina, and later moved to Swannanoa, near Asheville. Her father was a lawyer and a member of the Georgia House of Representatives. Following high school graduation, Anna went to work for the Beacon Blanket Company in Swannanoa, where she met and married her husband at the age of 25. Anna worked for Beacon Blanket for 34 years and rose to the position of cost accountant. She retired from the company at age 52 and eventually relocated to Florida with her husband. Anna moved back to South Carolina in 2006 to be closer to her niece and has been a resident of Agape Senior Kathwood since 2007.
Inez Caskey was born in Kershaw, South Carolina, and started her working career as a school teacher, later working for the Department of Social Services. She loved to garden and enjoyed being in the great outdoors whenever possible. Inez often volunteered in the kitchen at Shandon United Methodist Church in Columbia, where she has been a member for over 60 years.
It is hard to imagine the number of stories that can be told about these two residents’ life journeys spanning over 100 years. Each woman possesses a rich history made up of human connections that have been interwoven over time to create individual life experiences. It is likely that Anna and Inez had many occasions to celebrate over the past 100 years, and it is also likely that they experienced their share of hard times and grief that so often accompanies life. One thing is for sure: These two gracious women have a combined 203 years of living and are still enjoying each and every day.