WILLMAR, Minn. — Mamie Holm is 105 years old and doesn’t have the best hearing, but this tiny slip of a woman doesn’t let age or size stop her from having a robust, independent life.
She does her own grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, cooking and — as she does every year — decorates her own Christmas tree.
“I was pretty glad I could decorate my tree,” she said. “I have a beautiful angel but it doesn’t light up any more.”
Preparing for Christmas is just part of the routine that keeps Holm active.
“I try to do my own housework. I washed my clothes yesterday. I had a hard time making my bed, but I got it done,” she said. She vacuums her apartment by herself and cooks nearly all of her meals.
“I like to cook most anything,” she said. “I can make a spaghetti hotdish. I brown chicken and put it in the oven and bake it.”
She’s known for her bread pudding and is planning to make Christmas cookies.
It’s a vigorous routine for anyone, let alone someone who’s 105.
Like many of her neighbors on this particular wing at the Sunrise Village independent living apartment complex in Willmar, Holm leaves her door wide open as an invitation for people to come in and visit.
“I’ve been here 12 years now. I’ve been here a long time,” she said with a wide smile and hearty rat-a-tat laugh. “They can’t get rid of me.”
“She’s amazing,” said Ramona "Mona" Christenson, who lives just a couple doors down and visits daily with Holm.
Christenson marvels at her friend’s energy.
During past shopping trips, Christenson, who is 83, said she had a hard time keeping up with Holm, who zipped quickly through stores.
Sharp as a tack, Holm watches to make sure she isn’t overcharged at the checkout counter, said Christenson.
Holm broke her hip a year ago but after a short stint in rehab she was back on her own. She demonstrates the leg exercises she learned during rehab.
“I still do therapy exercises every morning because that keeps it limber,” she said.
Holm keeps up on current events with daily news shows, goes to chapel on Sundays and watches “Let’s Make a Deal” and “Wheel of Fortune” every day. She said she sometimes guesses the correct answers before the TV contestants do.
She’s also a voracious reader and quickly pulls out the book she’s currently reading by her favorite author Richard Paul Evans, who’s written many Christmas-themed novels.
“He’s a good writer. Have you ever heard of that book, 'The Christmas Box'? He wrote that too,” she said.
In a rare request for help earlier this month, Holm asked if Christenson would help her retrieve her artificial tree from a second-floor storage room. The two fetched the tree and assembled it together but Holm “decorated it all herself,” said Christenson.
The tree is adorned with lights and ornaments, including a special handmade ornament with a childhood photo of her son on one side and her daughter on the other.
Her daughter, Linda, died in 2006. Three days later Holm's husband died.
The couple had been married 62 years, living in Kandiyohi their entire married life.
It wasn’t the first time Holm experienced heartbreaking loss.
Born in 1914 in Dassel, Holm was 10 years old when her mother died. The second-oldest of five kids — and the only girl — Holm took care of her young brothers who were 3, 5 and 8.
She has one surviving brother. He’s 100 years old.
Holm attributes her long, healthy life to a few basic lifestyle choices she follows religiously.
“I have to say that I read my Bible faithfully every morning, and I eat good, nutritious meals and I exercise,” she said. “And I take a nap every afternoon.”