BY JESSI MITCHELL, News 9
The oldest living Oklahoman turns 109 this week.
Her name is Mary Erbin and her family threw her a fitting birthday bash to celebrate the milestone Sunday.
Erbin said the key to longevity does not have anything to do with eating right or avoiding bad habits. She said all you have to do is live an honest, dedicated life and trust in God.
“Thank the Lord that I’m still here,” said Erbin. “Maybe I’ll make it ‘til after my birthday.”
At 109 years old, Erbin cannot see, hear or get around as well as she used to, but there is one routine that still endures.
“Every day, she’s in her room usually saying her prayers, but they’re mostly in Ukranian now,” said her grandson Robby Wall. “Just her faith. It’s what keeps her going.”
Now living with her grandson, Erbin continues to teach the younger generations of her family that you get out of life what you put in.
“Had to go and pick cotton and everything like that. I used to work hard in my young life,” she said.
The Harrah-native worked on a farm for decades, cultivating cotton and blackberries, all the way into her 80s.
“We all picked, but she out-picked all of us. We picked by the quart and she was picking by the bucket,” Wall said.
Five generations came to the Harrah Senior Citizens Center to commemorate Erbin's 109th year, but it is also a special birthday for her great-granddaughter Halle Brown, who is turning 16.
“Getting to hear all her stories about her growing up and just telling us how to live a long life at the same time I’m celebrating my birthday, getting to hear her tips,” she said.
The two have a special relationship besides sharing a birthday. Brown made Erbin's favorite scarf with hand-warmers that she now wears everywhere.
“Halle” also happens to be the name of the ship that brought Erbin's parents to America from Ukraine more than a century ago.
Erbin's actual birthday is Monday. She does not know how much longer she has, but said she is leaving that decision in God's hands.