I’ve got news for you, says Senny Fedorus, the 97-year-old resident of Vanderwell Heritage Place in Slave Lake (or words to that effect). I’m not even the oldest person in here!
That’s not the only news the 73-year resident of the area has.
“I’m slowing down,” she says. “People say I’ll live to 100, but I don’t think so. I’m surprised I’m still living. I lost a few marbles, though.”
“Not many,” says granddaughter Carol Ann Porterfield, helping out with the interview.
Mrs. Fedorus is reminded that if she makes it to 100, she’ll likely hear from Queen Elizabeth – if in fact the queen is still around in three years (actually just a bit over two).
“She’s younger than me,” Senny points out.
Here’s another thing she clears up: spell Senny with a ‘y’ at the end, please. People want to spell it ‘ie,’ “but I like it with a ‘y.’
Mrs. Fedorus – as noted – has lived in the area since 1946. That’s when she and her husband Alex and the first three of their seven children arrived from the Bonnyville area.
“My husband came to work with his brother in Widewater,” she says.
Sam Fedorus had a mink ranching enterprise. It wasn’t too long before Alex went out on his own, raising mink and fishing. Senny of course rolled up her sleeves and did her bit to make it work.
“I worked hard!” ‘she says. “Feeding, cleaning pens.” Not to mention looking after a growing family.
Four more children came along in the ensuing years, so let’s name them all here. Albert, Allan, Leonard, Gloria, Robert, Christine (Teeny) and Johnny. Their mom isn’t sure how long the mink-ranching lasted – just that it went on for quite some time.
“When all the kids were gone I went to work for the hospital,” she says. “I worked there for 18 years and then I retired.”
Senny was born Alexandra Kryzanowski to Ukrainian immigrant parents Anna and John.
“My parents just missed the Titanic!” she says.
The family lived on a farm near Glendon Alberta. Times were sometimes hard. Senny remembers her mom having nothing to serve for supper but sauerkraut and gravy, “so that’s what we had!”
Asked what the secret of her long life is, Senny says she isn’t sure. Not smoking or drinking probably helped.
“Hard work never hurt me,” she says.
Daughter-in-law Penny Fedorus offers farm living and healthy eating as possibilities.
“One year we made 300 lbs. of sauerkraut,” she says.
Porterfield remembers growing up next door to her grandparents. “Grandpa walked over every day to see my mom and play crib,” she says.
There are five generations going strong in the family at the moment. They’d like to get together for a five-generation photo, but the youngest lives in Minnesota, so it’s a bit hard to organize. There are 15 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren and (so far) just the one great-great-grandchild.
Senny is pretty sharp still, but she says her eyesight and hearing aren’t so good.
“I hear what I want to hear,” she says. “I have a hard time recognizing people; they have to come close.”
As for recreation, she has a lifelong love of baseball and curling, says Penny.
“I play crib,” Senny adds. “But sometimes I get mixed up. I figure I have all hearts and there’s a diamond in there.”