NORMAN — With a warm smile as wide as the stripes on her shirt, Jerri Melton exuded joy as she listened to her daughter, Marilyn Foster, tell her life story.
At 103 years old, Melton is the senior resident at Grace Living Center in Norman. Melton’s age hasn’t stopped her from living life to the fullest.
Melton had a dance for her 103rd birthday party, where she made it to the dance floor for every song. Her wheelchair doesn’t restrict her from dancing with her arms, moving her feet and with a little help from a friend, twirling around.
Melton’s party demanded an array of guests from out-of-town nieces and nephews to a group from the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority at the University of Oklahoma.
Melton has more on her weekly schedule than many people half her age. Between her weekly exercise and Zumba classes, Melton also attends Grace’s Bible studies, OU football watch parties and the weekly live concert.
“It’s really a community,” Foster said about her mother’s home, “She would not have lived this long if it weren’t for the great care she receives at Grace.”
Melton comes from humble beginnings, growing up on her family’s farm with eight siblings. It was a life of hard work, and Melton said not much changed for her family when the Great Depression hit because they had already been living it.
She went on to graduate from Ada High School and taught school after graduating college. However, Melton’s true passion is teaching others about God.
“I can remember coming home to her with her books and Bible all spread out on the floor planning her lesson for Sunday,” Foster recalled from childhood.
Melton and her daughter, to this day, are best friends and Foster visits her mother at Grace daily.
Her age has limited her words; however, when asked what advice she has for the next generation, Melton managed to pass along some words of wisdom.
“Be sweet and good and have a relationship with the Lord,” Melton said.
Sarah Martin writes about colorful centenarians for the Coalition of Advocates for Responsible Eldercare (CARE).