Looking on the bright side serves Maria well

MOVING FORWARD: East Albury’s Maria Terhaar has overcome many ups and downs throughout her long life. Originally from the Netherlands, Mrs Terhaar and her family marked her 100th birthday on Friday. Picture: MARK JESSERTHE tiniest baby in a Dutch family of 11 children not only survived but has thrived through an entire century.

East Albury resident Maria Terhaar celebrated her 100th birthday on Friday, honoured by relatives who include23 grandchildren, 51 great-grandchildren and19 great-great-grandchildren.

“It is really something special because none of my family or my husband’s family got so far and I was the smallest one born and I lived the longest,” she said.

Born in a Dutch village on February 24, 1917, Mrs Terhaar remembers playing down the dike as a child, picking fruit that her mother made into wine and walking an hour to school.

Once she lost control of her bike and tumbled into the dike, luckily without hurting herself.

“My father said, ‘Will you do it again and I’ll give you 10 guilders?’ Of course I didn’t do it again,” she said with a laugh.

Mrs Terhaar met her future husband Albert in Amsterdam while working as a nanny and cleaner and the couple married in 1940 during World War II.

“You never forget the war, it was awful, but you live and you go on,” she said.

As a young mother, she had to lug the pram up and down stairs where they lived and the young oneshad hardly any space to play outside.

So in 1956, with eight children between four and 15 years, the Terhaars decided to migrate to Australia.

Their new life started sadly when thebaby of the family died soon after their arrival.

“We were just here in Bonegilla and we lost her, she got measles and she got meningitis,” Mrs Terhaar said.

The children picked up English quite quickly and helped their mother learn the language as they settled in Wodonga.

Mrs Terhaar made their clothes and did lots of crocheting while playing cards was something the family did together.

“We’re really railway people; my father was on the railway and my brother and thenmy husband got on the railway as well,” she said.

Work took the Terhaars to Melbourne in the 1960s, but they returned to Albury after Mr Terhaar retired in 1978.

He died aged 86 in 1999 and Mrs Terhaar lived on her own until she moved into Borella House more than three years ago. These days she “can’t complain” about her health.

“You have ups and downs every time but you get over it, you have a strong will,” she said.

Such a philosophy might also explain her longevity.

“Keep moving,” Mrs Terhaar advised.

“I always look on the bright side, never look back.”

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