TERRY, Miss. -- If you ask Eula Polk the secret to living 105 years, she’ll give you a smile and talk about Jesus.
“Just give God most of your time and you’ve got it,” she said with a laugh. “You pray before you go to bed and pray when you get up.”
Friends and family gathered around Polk Wednesday to celebrate her birthday and share memories.
During the party, there was a constant stream of people stopping by to talk, give hugs and take pictures.
“Put that on a poster,” she quipped after smiling for her fifth picture in the span of five minutes.
Guests tell Polk they love her. She’ll ask if they had enough food or tried the cake and tell them she loves them, too.
"Her life has just been so full," niece Dollie Gathings said.
Born and raised in Terry, Polk remembers growing up and working in the fields, but she’d rather talk about Scripture and her mother’s peach cobbler.
She and her husband, Eddie Lee, who died in 1988, worked as migrant workers, taking people to New York and Florida, up and down the Southern coastline, for work as the seasons changed.
"I was helping the people helping one another," she said. "Folks that needed something. They didn't have no money or nothing so that gave them a chance to get some money to buy clothes and things for their children.
"That's your job — is to help folks that can't help themselves. When they're down, you don't try to keep them down, you try to get them up," she said. "I enjoy helping folks. There's no harm in helping people."
The couple raised two foster children that Polk counts as her own.
Talking of the day she got her two sons, Polk said, "The lady didn't have nobody to take care of the babies so she asked if I wanted them and I said 'Mmm hmm.'"
Son Moses Hurk Jr. lives in New Jersey. Her other son, Willie James Coleman, is no longer living. She has 11 grandchildren.
She never remarried after Eddie Lee’s death, saying, “For what? There’s no need to do that.”
Polk is heavily involved in her church, “loves food,” and enjoys watching basketball. She doesn’t have a favorite team, though.
“I just love to look at them,” she said, breaking into laughter. Her sense of humor is razor sharp and most of her conversation is peppered with her quick, infectious laugh.
For as long as she can remember, Polk said she wakes up at 5 a.m. each morning. Her days are full, she said, and she spends her mornings at the local senior citizens center. She’ll come home in the early afternoon and is in bed by 6:30 p.m.
She’s traveled “lots of places” throughout her life, mostly for “church work.”
Gathings said any time there is a church trip, Polk will be on the bus, ready to go. Several years ago, Polk and members of her church traveled to Las Vegas for a conference. Gathings said she was joking with her aunt, asking why she was going to Las Vegas and if she would be playing in the casinos. Polk replied, 'They call it Sin City so I guess that's where we're supposed to be."
"She not only talks about religion, she lives her religion, the way you're supposed to be, Gathings said. "That's the way her life has been fashioned."
If she could pass down any wisdom, Polk said it would be to “just treat folks right and you’ll be alright. Everybody ought to learn how to treat one another.”
As for what’s next? At her birthday celebration, she said she simply wanted to go home and "get out of these rags."
After that, she said she plans to "live and let live."
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