A birthday worthy of celebrating

Published 9:33 pm Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Evelyn Youngblood, surrounded by family, watches as some of her granddaughters and great-granddaughters place and light the 101 candles atop her birthday cake Tuesday afternoon. Youngblood marked her 100th birthday at Cedar Hill Assisted Living Facility. -- Katie Wood

Staying up till midnight the night before a birthday is not just for youngsters, it’s also for the young at heart. Evelyn Youngblood proved that on Monday night as she watched the clock strike 12 on the eve of her 100th birthday.

“I wanted to stay up to 12 o’clock when I would officially be 100 years old,” Youngblood said.

Tuesday, Youngblood celebrated her special day with friends and family at the Cedar Hill Assisted Living Facility where she has lived for the past 10 years.

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During her birthday party, Youngblood was presented with a key to the city as well as a proclamation declaring Sept. 4 as Evelyn Youngblood Day in Selma.

“This is a momentous occasion.” Corey Bowie, city councilman for Ward 8 said. “To have a pillar in the community, to be around that long, as a young individual you can learn a lot from her. You can grow from her experience and captivate and be the best person you can be.”

“It’s not every day that you reach a milestone like this, so what better way than to celebrate a young lady of 100 years old.” Bowie said of the presentation of the proclamation. “It’s her special day. It’s very befitting for her, and that’s why we came up with it.”

Youngblood has four children, nine grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

Sisters Lilly,11, and Maggie Youngblood, 9, said they were excited about their great grandmother turning 100.

“On her last birthday she turned 99 and she wanted a bingo party,” Lilly said with a smile. “She only had one candle on the cake, and we said that next year we’d have 100.”

Maggie chimed in and said they put 101 candles in their great-grandmother’s cake on Tuesday. “One to grow on,” she said of the extra candle.

Youngblood’s sons Jimmy K. and Lee Youngblood talked about the things their mother had done that had left an impression on them.

“I can’t put my finger on a single thing,” Jimmy K. said. “What stands out to me is probably her Christian principals, her values and life morals.”

“She’s always been there for us, that’s for sure,” Lee added. “Any time when we were young we had friends over to hunt and stuff, she’d cook for us. She made us feel like we were special children, and made our friends feel welcome. We could tell that she loved our family, the way she cared for us.”

Her Christian values and love of family seemed to make an impression on many people in her life, because many of the party guests noted that those were things they admired most about her.

Having a family member who has lived through the Great Depression, World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and many other historic events aids in her wisdom and life experiences, making her a great go-to person for advice.

Youngblood’s granddaughter, Sarah Youngblood said, “She always has a positive outlook on life. You can always go to her with your problems and she’ll just tell us, ‘You gotta look up. No pity parties.’”

Not only is Youngblood seemingly a model for Christian values, she is also an artist. She began painting in her 30s, but received her first art supplies from Santa she said.

“One of my special memories was I always loved painting, even as a little girl,” she said. “Finally, momma, well actually Santa gave me a set of watercolors. I thought that was the most wonderful thing I had ever gotten. I didn’t know what in the world to do with it, but I loved that box of water colors.”

Youngblood has since become quite an artist and even held art classes for other residents of Cedar Hill.

“She has given me inspiration for art,” Jo Pate, a friend of Youngblood said. “Come Sunday to see her art at the Selma Art Guild, because we’re going to have her work on display. You’ll see why her work is an inspiration.”

With words like role model for Christian values, and a wonderful person floating around, Youngblood said she felt overwhelmed.

“People telling me I’m a wonderful person, and all this celebration, it’s just weird. I can’t take it all in,” Youngblood said. “It’s wonderful.”

She added she doesn’t know how to act. “I feel strange. I don’t know what to do when you’re 100. I’m so fortunate … ,”she said.

Youngblood attributes her longevity to three things. Her ancestors, eating right and staying active while growing up, and learning all she could about her spiritual life.

“Other than that, you just have to take what the Lord hands you,” she said.