110-year-old’s secrets to a long life

SHE was alive when the Titanic went down (and had a distant cousin who went down with it) and she's lived through two world wars, 30 australian prime ministers and 20 American presidents.

Through 11 decades she's seen the Roaring '20s, the rock and rolling '50s and the swinging '60s - all the way through to the dawn of a new millennium.

At the age of 109, Mabel Jesse Irene Crosby has seen it all, so what would Mabel, who turns 110 on Saturday, like for her birthday?

Queensland's oldest resident would like a cruise, thank you very much, preferably to Fiji, which she enjoyed visiting when she was a mere 107 years old - but Mabel says she's not fussy.

"I'll go anywhere", Mabel smiles, "just hand me the tickets!"

And if you ask any one of Mabel's three daughters - Dorothy, 83, Ruth, 82 or Robyn, 78 - or her 10 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren or seven great-great-grandchildren, they will tell you that there is every chance that Mabel will set sail again.

 

Mabel Crosby with her 10-month-old great great grandson Cameron Moriarty. Picture: Peter Wallis
Mabel Crosby with her 10-month-old great great grandson Cameron Moriarty. Picture: Peter Wallis

 

As her great-granddaughter Jessica Manson, 21, says: "Nan really can do just about anything she puts her mind to, age doesn't really limit her at all, and it never has."

The remarkable centenarian, who takes no other medication than the occasional headache tablet - "The nurses give it to me for pain but I always say to them, what pain?" - credits her long innings to a busy life, hard work... and love.

 

Mabel Crosby (front) with mother Janet, sisters Hilda and Janet and brother Stuart just before emigrating to Australia
Mabel Crosby (front) with mother Janet, sisters Hilda and Janet and brother Stuart just before emigrating to Australia

Born in 1909 in Kent in the United Kingdom, Mabel's parents John and Janet immigrated to Australia in 1913.

She had three siblings Janet, Hilda and Stuart (now all deceased), the whole family clearing the trees on their Newcastle property to build their first home.

"I enjoyed the hard work", Mabel says, "I always have."

Mabel married Ernulf Krosby in 1931, her Norwegian husband of 35 years until his death from a heart attack in 1970 was, she says, "a lovely man, very kind".

Together, the couple raised their children on a property near Gosford in New South Wales, and in 1984 Mabel moved to Brisbane to be closer to her extended family.

She has reigned as its matriarch ever since, both loved by all, and loving to all, her daughter Ruth says.

"Growing up, if you're in a trouble, you went to mum, if you needed a hand, you went to mum, and not much has changed as she's grown older."

Jessica Manson agrees. "Nan is my best friend," she says.

"Best friends forever," Mabel replies, touching her great-granddaughter's cheek.

About 80 of Mabel's family and friends will gather in her southside aged care residence tomorrow for her birthday, with relatives flying in in from Townsville, Atherton and Melbourne for the celebration.

Mabel plans to have a drop of champagne, some cake and a "great time" with her family, including its youngest member, 10-month-old Cameron Moriarty.

"You bet," Mabel smiles.

 

Mabel Crosby with husband Ern
Mabel Crosby with husband Ern