Lucille Honsinger celebrated her 106th birthday Saturday, February 27. Courtesy photo
Despite the pandemic, Lucille Honsinger’s 106th birthday was celebrated with style Saturday at Aspen Ridge. Courtesy photo
BY THE FAMILY OF LUCILLE HONSINGER
In this pandemic year, (Della) Lucille Honsinger has reached her 106th birthday, and found joy and amazement in Zoom technology. She has spent the year socially distanced from other residents at her Los Alamos assisted living facility, Aspen Ridge, and physically separated from her large family. Her eldest son, Dr. Richard Honsinger II, a specialist in allergy and immunology here, has visited her weekly from outside the windows of Aspen Ridge, but has been unable to hug her or have in-person visits. A granddaughter, Joyce Richins R.N., the Los Alamos Medical Center infection control manager, also has been restricted to through-the-glass visits.
But other distant members of Mrs. Honsinger’s extended family have been able to keep in touch through regular Zoom meetings, aided by her regular in-person, quarantining caregiver, Shirley Trujillo. The 106-year-old considers both Mrs. Trujillo and Zoom an amazing part of her life. She marvels at the changes she has seen, but being able to regularly connect with distant family members is a change she finds especially delightful. ·
Beginning her life on February 27, 1915, Mrs. Honsinger was born on a rural homestead near Okanogan in north central Washington state. She was delivered by her midwife aunt, Della, who insisted on naming the newborn after herself. Mrs. Honsinger preferred her middle name, Lucille, and that is how she is known to her friends and family.
Her namesake Aunt Della also lived past one hundred, as had women in previous generations in her family. Mrs. Honsinger still remembers telling her husband, Richard, jokingly but seriously when he proposed, “Watch out, our family is known for longevity!”
Her visitors are still socially distanced because of Covid-19, but she celebrated her birthday with her son Richard, her granddaughters Joyce and Kerry and Nellie, and great grandchildren including Blake and Aliya. In addition, she shared Zoom conferences with members of her family in Washington state. She still fondly remembers her time in the Northwest-she met her husband Richard when both were students at Washington State University, and her 83-year association with the women’s Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) began there. But she has been pleased to spend the last decade and a half in New Mexico, near the southern branch of her clan.
She has four children, Richard, Kay, Bruce, and Holly, 13 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, and eight (and counting) great great grandchildren. Her family is scattered across the Western landscape–New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Washington—but she has been able to stay in contact with many of them because of the video conferencing phenomenon to which she has quickly adapted.
Mrs. Honsinger has been confined to a wheelchair after a fall this year, but still navigates around Aspen Ridge. She is known there for her friendly smiles and for never complaining. She has flowering plants in her room, and a birdfeeder on the window. She remembers still how one of her children told her many decades ago that she should read more, and she apologizes if she is caught with her tv on: “Bruce always told me I should be reading.”
The 106-year-old immediately understood the importance of the Covid-19 vaccine, and was happy to receive her series of “jabs”. She has memory only of what she was told about the 1918-19 influenza pandemic and its human toll, but saw her children contract, and survive, many of the diseases of pre-vaccine days–measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox. She remembers too well the polio epidemic in the United States, its effect on the Washington community she lived in, and the relief she felt when her family was able to receive vaccination. She is hopeful to be able to see family members in person again once safety through vaccination is achieved. But in the meantime, she has adapted to through-the window and over-the-Zoom-screen visits, and she is happy.
Staff at Aspen Ridge made sure Lucille Honsinger’s 106th birthday was celebrated in style. Courtesy photo