Spruill: Ever faithful, dependable and active at 99
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 9, 2013 1:46 PM
Canarie Spruill sits in her living room, reflecting on her past and rejoicing about her present. Thursday she celebrated her 99th birthday. Mrs. Spruill cooks, cleans and still drives. She enjoys working in the yard and until last year tended a garden in her backyard.
The 1985 Buick LaSabre parked in Canarie Spruill's carport is much like the woman who still drives it -- faithful and dependable.
"It's still going good right on," she said of her ride. "People always ask, 'When are you going to get rid of it?' It's a blessing that you can wait on yourself and go when you get ready, not have to wait on somebody else."
Last week Mrs. Spruill turned 99, and in addition to living independently and cooking for herself every day, she has been driving a long time.
"I learned driving when you had to crank it on the outside," she said with a laugh.
She recalled saving up money for the car and being able to pay for it in cash.
But growing up, what she most wanted was a house.
Born Oct. 3, 1914, she attended Spring Bank Elementary School and Dillard High School, graduating in 1936. The following year she married Odell Spruill, a farmer, and they moved several times before acquiring a home of their own.
The couple had five children -- Lenard Spruill, Deloris Price and Priscilla Ford, all still in Wayne County, and Zebedee Spruill and Willie James Spruill, who both live in Maryland. She now has 11 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and seven great great-grandchildren.
They had been married 45 years when her husband passed away.
Much has happened in nearly a century, she said.
"Lord, yeah, honey, I have seen a lot of things happen," she said. "I tell you, there's so many.
"The biggest, I never thought I would stay here and see a black president. I never thought I would ever see one."
As a farmer's wife, she also witnessed a lot of changes.
"How we used to chop cotton and pick cotton and tobacco," she said. "That's a big change because we worked hard. There's so many things that changed so much (over) time."
She has always enjoyed being outdoors. This is the first year she hasn't tended a garden, but still maintains the flowers that outline the front of her home.
For 87 years, she has been an active member of Best Grove Missionary Baptist Church, where her efforts have included teaching children Sunday school and being in the choir.
"I'm faithful," she said. "When I don't go, they call."
Cataract surgery helped but prevent her from reading as much as she would like. Except for a pacemaker and some stiff knees, though, she's in good health.
"I feel good, pretty good," she said. "I just think how long I have been here, what I have been through, I think I do good. Sometimes you're going along, feeling good, and then you don't know if you can get up. But, thank you, Lord, it's as well as it is."
Her children and family members gathered for a birthday party last week.
But Mrs. Spruill said everyone else seems much more conscious of the day's significance than she is.
"I don't even think about how old I am," she said, "I think, Lord have mercy, I don't have no business turning as old as I am. I just keep pressing on, don't give up."