Just after the New Year, a drive-by celebration was held in honor of a Penhook woman’s centennial birthday.
More than 180 friends and family members, including one guest who was 106, attended the Jan. 3 event to celebrate Mozelle Witcher’s milestone birthday, according to daughters Linda Witcher and Connie Waddy. Two days later on Jan. 5, another in-person celebration (complete with masks and social distancing) was held for Witcher by nine of her 11 living children.
Born Jan. 5, 1921 to the late Elijah and Exie Witcher, Witcher was one of 16 children (eight of whom are still living today), according to Waddy and Witcher.
“She was and still is, to some extent, a very good homemaker,” they said. “She had a love for cooking, canning and also sewing.”
The Witchers raised most of their food on their farm, including vegetables, chickens and hogs. Even today, the daughters said their mother can be found in the kitchen cooking and canning.
“That’s something that she still has a love for and won’t give up,” Waddy said. “Anything that can go in a jar, she is going to preserve it.”
Never one to let anything go to waste, Witcher’s daughters said their mother would take any leftover food and turn it into something else. In the garden, when it seemed there were no more turnip greens left to pick, their mother would “go with no exceptions.”
“One day she went to the salad patch after several days of heavy rain, and the garden was very muddy and miry,” Waddy recalled. “She got stuck in the mud in the garden and had to leave her shoes sunk in the mud and walk back to the house barefooted.”
Throughout her life, Witcher has loved having people come to visit. “She loved her friends and family coming in from out of town,” Waddy said. “Not only did she feed her own. She had so much love for others that she would feed them also. Anybody that came through, from humans to animals, she made sure no one was hungry.”
Until her health slowed her down, Witcher enjoyed attending church at Greater Mt. Parrish Missionary Baptist Church in Penhook. “She brought her kids up in church until they moved out of the home,” Waddy recalled. “If you lived here you were going to church every time the doors swung open. You didn’t have a choice. She instilled a lot of Christian morals and good character traits in her children.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Witcher’s daughters said their mother misses seeing everyone, although she understands the importance of staying safe.
“2020 has been a different year for everyone, but she still loves her family and friends so much that she can’t understand why everybody stopped coming to visit,” they said. “She is still saying any and everybody is always welcome to come here.”
Witcher attributes her longevity to being a Christian woman, eating well (especially the fresh food from her garden), and the love and support she receives from her friends and family, her daughters said.
“In spite of this pandemic year, she has continued to be blessed,” Waddy said. “She made it to see a whole century and that is truly a blessing from God.”