A positive attitude could be the secret to a long life for one Guelph woman who will celebrate a major milestone this month.
Margaret MacIntosh will turn 105 on Friday.
When asked how it feels, she said, “I kind of feel like I’m getting old,” with a big smile.
MacIntosh’s daughter, Carol Fay, said there is a poem called the Optimist Creed that exemplifies her mother and the way she has lived her life.
“She is definitely an optimist, and that has made my bother Howard and I tremendously positive on our outlook on life as well,” Carol said.
“To make all your friends feel there is something in them, to look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true…,” is a key theme of the poem.
“When I read this, I thought this is just how mom lived her life, always looking for the best in others, never wanting to judge anyone, and seeing the beauty in everyone,” Carol said.
“It’s such a refreshing way to look at life.”
MacIntosh was born on Jan. 27, 1918, in Eramosa Township, the youngest of eight children born to William and Isabella Swanston.
“Mom comes from a farming background near Rockwood. All of her siblings were born on the farm except for one born at the hospital,” said MacIntosh’s son, Howard.
“It’s amazing, her sister Jean lived to be 103. And their mother lived to be almost 99.”
MacIntosh attended Eramosa County School and Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute.
She entered post-secondary at the Guelph Business School and worked at a number of jobs at the University of Guelph dormitory and eventually at the Guelph Creamery across from the Guelph Public Library.
“That’s where she met dad, Roderick Allan MacIntosh, in the 1930’s when he became creamery manager. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and then came back after the war,” Howard said.
The couple were married in June, 1946.
“Mom and dad bought a house on Grove Street in Guelph and dad returned to his job as a manager at the Guelph Creamery where mom had been a bookkeeper in the office before and during the war.”
The couple moved to Wingham, where both Carol and Howard were born, and then to Preston in 1956.
“Mom worked at Kralinator, a filter company, where she was an accountant. She still receives a pension from them which probably make them wonder, how is this possible?” Howard said.
The family moved back to Guelph and Roderick MacIntosh passed away in 1977. The couple were married for 31 years.
After her husband’s passing, MacIntosh enjoyed travelling to Europe, the United States, and across Canada.
“She loved Florida. We used to have really great family get togethers there,” Carol said.
“And she enjoyed going to Wasaga and Sauble Beach with family too.”
MacIntosh has four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
“Mom has always enjoyed Secret Santa celebrations with children and teaching games to her grandchildren. She enjoyed baking and cooking and was a very good bowler in her day. She won a trophy,” Fay said.
“And she loves cheering on the Blue Jays and watching Jeopardy.”
MacIntosh has been affiliated with various groups including Eastern Star, bridge clubs, Evergreen Seniors Centre, and Presbyterian church communities including Knox Presbyterian Church and St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Guelph.
“She was just playing bocce ball today. She’s incredibly good at it. And she still beats me at cribbage,” Howard said.
Howard says his mother has always been a happy and positive person.
“But growing up, she was pretty strong in terms of making decisions and doing what was appropriate,” he said.
Carol remembers her mother’s support in school, especially with home economics assignments in sewing.
“I wasn’t good at putting sleeves in, and mom was a master sewer and knitter,” Carol said.
“Mom, she just persevered.”
Carol says her mother is always strong in never giving up.
“She has a very strong faith, that percolated throughout her entire life,” she said.
Carol says the current minister, at Knox Presbyterian Church in Guelph, has written beautiful letters about her mother describing her as a ‘very classy lady’ with many other attributes.
Howard says that if anyone were to see his mother in the morning, she will be putting on her makeup.
“She gets her hair and nails done at the salon. She has to have her jewelry on. She has always been well dressed,” Howard said.
Today, MacIntosh lives in long-term care at The Elliott Community in Guelph.
“It’s going on 14 years since transitioning from the residence at Ellington here, to assisted living, and now into long term care,” Carol said.
“What a blessing. It was easy to move knowing all the staff and people from other areas, would see her out in the courtyard, and they would say oh! I remember Margaret.”
Carol wrote a poem when her mother turned 100.
“You’ve lived your life with such resilience. Keeping a positive attitude, no matter what circumstances, with faith, hope, and love as your guides” Carol wrote.
"I’ve written another poem that I will read out for her 105th,” Carol said.
The family is looking forward to a big birthday celebration.
“The mayor is coming to present her with a certificate. The essence is that this will be the first time we will all be together in three years to celebrate mom,” Carol said.
“And this is so awesome. It is a true gift."