Ice skating, skiing and time with her friends as a child still remain fond memories for May Taylor after more than a century of living.
Taylor, a resident at Autumn Leaves Memory Care in Fort Mill, turned 105 Sunday. Autumn Leaves, a new memory care community, opened three months ago.
The community came together Sunday to celebrate Taylor with a party — complete with cake, candles, balloons, family and friends.
“It’s great,” Taylor said. “It overwhelmed me with food and everything else. It has taken so much work from so many people to do all this and I really appreciate it.”
Born with a sweet tooth, she said she loved the cake.
The party was a testament to a woman born in 1912 who has lived through historic periods of the 20th century such as The Great Depression and World War II.
Taylor, though, speaks not of the hard times but of the fond memories she holds of her childhood. Some of her fondest include childhood friends from a French family that lived nearby in Saranac Lake, N.Y.
Taylor said she her family had all girls and the French family had all boys, making them the perfect compliments to each other.
“The two families became extremely friendly because they wanted their children to know something about the other sex,” she said. “They became my best little playmates.
Taylor said the boys and girls would often ice skate and ski together in the Adirondack mountains.
“We had a grand time,” she said.
Taylor was also close with Dora, a woman her parents hired to take care of the children. She said her longevity is, in part, due to Dora’s guidance on nutrition and keeping her out of trouble.
“I loved her,” Taylor said. “She was young, but I always listened to her. She may have been a young person, but she was very knowledgeable and I figured she knew what she was talking about.”
Dora practically raised them, Taylor said.
“I’ll never forget her; to me, she was a member of the family,” Taylor said. “I think we would have all grown up to be a bunch of brats if it wasn’t for women like Dora.”
Taylor said her mother was always busy with planning and attending social events, something that was expected of women back then.
“Certain people — certain things were expected of them,” Taylor said. “I give a lot of credit to women back then. They were going night and day, yet they were supposed to be pretty and well dressed at all the big functions.”
Despite her bought Alzheimer’s, Taylor still loves life and loves to talk. She is relatively healthy, taking just a few medications and using a wheelchair due to knee pain from arthritis, said Jill Harris, the youngest of Taylor’s two daughters.
Harris said her mom’s love of dogs may have helped keep her healthy. Taylor always had dogs and enjoyed taking them for long walks.
Even at 105, Harris said all her mom wants is another dog.
Taylor is an artist known for her paintings of ships on the ocean, Harris said. She said her mom would research every detail of a ship before painting it.
“She wanted her paintings to be really authentic,” Harris said. “She was very fussy on what she did. Water is one of the hardest things to paint and all of her paintings are gorgeous.”
Due to the arthritis, Taylor no longer paints because she can’t create the detail she used to, Harris said.
Taylor always loved to travel, Harris said. At 75, Taylor joined her grandson Casey Harris, then 17 years old, on a white water rafting trip.
At the party Sunday, Taylor enjoyed blowing out her candles, talking to her guests and eating a big slice of birthday cake.
“You can’t keep mom down,” Jill Harris said.
Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082