UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (PIX11) — Elaine Terry loves pizza and she got to eat as much pizza as she wanted on Wednesday because it was her 104th birthday.
The relentless 104-year-old woman survived COVID at 102 and was in the hospital for two weeks.
“I got out and the doctor said, ‘Mrs. Terry, what’s your secret?’” Elaine recalled. “No secret. I eat when I’m hungry. I’m a good eater. Nobody tells me what do. I do what I want.”
Her cognition is excellent, but she isn’t happy with what she’s experiencing physically as she ages.
“When you get old, my brain [is] fine, but you get arthritis and all these stupid things,” she comically added.
Elaine has lived in the same building on the Upper East Side for decades and family and friends came over to celebrate her big day.
She’s been able to live at home thanks to RiverSpring At Home, a long-term care program which threw her party. Suzanne Duffy is her nurse care manager.
“[Her] family is very involved which helps to keep her home and happy,” Duffy said. “Being home is one thing, but being home, happy, and safe is the best.”
Born in Ohio, Elaine came to New York City to sing. She also danced and work in the fashion industry and mentioned big names she met along the way like Frank Sinatra and Jackie O.
“A lot of them are dead,” Elaine said. “I’m still here. Why? I have no idea.”
Her granddaughter Abigail Libby brought her son, who is Elaine’s great-grandson, and credits her career for her longevity.
“She worked until she was 94 and I think that has something to do with why she’s still kicking and so with it,” Libby said. “I know that she is so excited that she got to meet her great-grandson Cooper.”
Up until recently, Elaine walked two miles a day. When she was sick with COVID, her son Eric Terry says they were expecting the worst possible scenario.
“I thought that was it and even before that when she was in her 90’s there would be nurses saying, ‘She’s going to be gone soon’ and here she is at 104, so everybody’s been wrong, so who knows how long she’s going to live,” he said.
Elaine loves to watch television and stay informed on politics and her one piece of advice for the younger generation is this:
“Love everybody,” Elaine said. “Don’t have prejudices. I went to a different church, synagogue, and mosque when I was a child with my brother. My dad wanted me to know every religion. I think that’s why I marched with Martin Luther [King].”
As Elaine continues to beat the odds, her family is grateful that they’ve been able to celebrate her for all of these years and they hope it continues for many more.