BONHAM — A spitfire on four wheels. That’s the ideal way to describe Ruth Moore Waterman. At 107, Waterman, affectionately called “Granny,” has definitely earned the right to be a little “fiesty” as several of those most familiar with her cited.
Dressed on a flower-print dress with a matching green flower in her hair, Waterman was the center of attention at her birthday party Thursday at the Clyde W. Cosper Texas State Veterans Home in Bonham. Devoted staff members took turns hugging the birthday girl and telling her how pretty she was on her special day.
“I look pretty every day,” Waterman decidedly commented, adding a sassy, little flip of her head.
Waterman was born in Minco, Indian Territory (Oklahoma) on June 16, 1904. She is one of the nation’s estimated 70,490 centenarians — persons who have reached age 100 and older. Statistics from 2010 show that one in 4,400 people in the United States reach the triple digit mark. Unlike many people, Waterman isn’t dependent on a barrage of prescription pills and is in relatively good health. She is wheelchair bound, but uses her feet, legs and arms to maneuver wherever she chooses to go.
“Granny takes very few medicines,” says Julie Kinard, one of Waterman’s nurses. “Up until several years ago, she only took vitamins and Tylenol.”
Waterman resided alone in her own home in Bonham until 2006 when she checked herself in to the Clyde Cosper home. Her late husband, Frank C. Waterman of Durant, Okla., had served in the Signals Operation Battalion in the U.S. Army during World War II. He died in the late 1970s and Ruth Waterman cared for her mother, Sallie Moore, in her Bonham home until her death at 105. The Watermans never had children.
Many of Waterman’s memories are now blurred and her thought processes are fragmented at times. However, she keeps staff and visitors in stitches with her frequent comments, some straight to the point and others filled with humor.
“Granny can say anything she wants to say,” said one grinning staffer after one of Waterman’s comments. “At 107, I think you should be able to say or do whatever you want to!”
Waterman listened only a few short moments to the local bluegrass gospel group, Grandpa’s Neighbors, before making an about face in her wheelchair and leaving the room.
“I need a little calm in here,” the determined lady announced to no one in particular.”
She later greeted guests who came to wish her well. By her side was her younger brother, George Moore, who is in his mid 90s.
“You look older than you did the last time you were here,” she stated matter-of-factly to a family member who bent to speak to her.
When asked what 107 years was like, Waterman was quick to answer, “It’s too many years.”
In between visiting with well-wishers and viewing birthday gifts of a quilt, shawl and other items, Waterman spoke quietly to her brother. She watched with interest as a huge birthday cake was brought in, and preparations were made for a hamburger cookout in her honor. She calmly handled interviews with reporters and the flashes of a dozen cameras pointed in her direction.
For Waterman and the many people who love her, it was a good day.