Standing next to a chair, Viola Toppen slowly reaches to touch her toes. She raises one arm high in the air; a shoulder injury limits mobility in the other.
Still, nearly daily exercises like these keep her strong and engaged.
“I hate to brag,” she says. “But I’m pretty good for 105 and eight months.”
Viola moved into Eventide Sheyenne Crossings 13 years ago. She had been legally blind for nearly five years and was tired of shoveling snow and asking someone to mow the lawn at her farm south of Fargo.
A sunny apartment at Eventide Sheyenne Crossings was perfect.
To meet her new neighbors, Viola added an exercise class to her daily schedule. She still does yoga three times a week and attends a general fitness class three times a week.
“I like that it keeps me limber,” she says. “I think it’s good for me.”
The daily class also gives her a chance to socialize with the other residents who attend.
“We get along; we joke,” she says.
Viola graduated high school in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression. For a few years, she worked in New York City where she also attended night school and learned secretarial skills like shorthand and typing.
She returned to North Dakota when World War II started and married a friend from high school. He died at age 37, leaving her with two little boys. To support the small family, she got what she calls “the best job in Kindred” with Cass County Electric Cooperative. She worked there for 30 years, retiring in 1981 when her second husband became ill.
Her family now numbers more than 30 members including her four children, in-laws, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Viola keeps busy by enjoying the programs and activities at Eventide. She checks out audiobooks from the North Dakota State Library Talking Book program and uses a magnifying machine at the Eventide library to read newspaper headlines and the obituaries.
Once spring descends, the life-time baseball fan listens to Twins baseball games on the radio.
“It’s a good life,” she says.