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Celebrating 107 years young

by Kelly Waterhouse

EDEN MILLS - Grace Dyksterhuis knows there is no secret to a long life, but she is grateful for the journey that has led her to her 107th birthday.

“People always ask me what the secret to living so long is,” she said. “I don’t know the answer, but I  think it’s about working hard and living a good life - and I did that.”

Celebrating on Dec. 3 at Guelph’s Riverside Reformed Church, Dyksterhuis will be joined by her friends and family for an open house from 2pm to 4pm, including several of her children, and the 15 grandchildren and another 15 great-grandchildren. Her actual birthday is Dec. 5.

“Family is very important to me,” Dyksterhuis said. “It’s too bad that some of them have to move so far away, but I understand. That is life in Canada.”

Born in Holland into a family of nine children, Dyksterhuis and her husband John came to Canada in 1948. They were sponsored by a farmer in the Harriston area, and that is where they settled, bought their own farm and worked the land for 50 of the 66 years they were married.

 “It was hard to come to Canada,” she explained. “We spoke no English. The money was different, the food at the store was different, everything was new. But Harriston was a nice community to live in.”

She added it was the right move for her family. “I never was sorry to come to Canada. You have to work hard wherever you go to make a living.”

Reflecting on her experience of the Second World War in Holland, she simply says, “The wartime was terrible in Holland, just terrible.”

Before heading to Canada, Grace and John experienced the loss of their infant son. Within a year of moving to Canada, she would lose another son to leukemia, at age 8. 

“My faith is very strong, and that has helped me.” Dyksterhuis said. “It’s not easy having to lose children, but I never lost my faith.”

In Harriston, she belonged to the Presbyterian Church and then joined the Dutch Reformed Church. One of her favorite activities was knitting baby blankets for the missionary organizations abroad. 

As the mother of seven, her advice for young families is simple. “I wish people would slow down. Your lives move too fast these days and it’s hard when things change so fast.”

With 107 years of change, Dyksterhuis understands life moves on, but her philosophy remains to take it one day at a time, and she still gets up and makes her bed every day, not because she has too, but because she can. 

“I don’t look ahead,” she said. “I am grateful that I am still healthy and my mind is sharp. I know I am in the Lord’s hands.”

Dyksterhuis’s family is hosting an open house on Dec. 3 from 2pm to 4 pm at the Guelph Riverside Reformed Church.




December 2, 2011


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