US- Mabel Sawhill died with a full appointment book — work gigs scheduled for weeks on end.
The Silver Spring caterer was 103.
“And a half,” she would remind folks. You get to count the halves when you’re 103, that’s fair. You also get single-name status. She was not Miss Sawhill. Just Mabel, thank you.
“She died with her boots on,” said Paula Eve, who had to phone Mabel’s catering clients over the weekend to cancel her bookings.
Mabel’s death, which came after she fell asleep in front of the television one night last week, leaves us with two lessons.
The first is Mabel’s key to longevity — vital engagement and a delight in everything life had to offer.
The second? Make that call you’ve been meaning to make. (More on that later).
Eve befriended Mabel years ago and replaced Doreen Moore, Mabel’s niece and longtime partner in the business, when Moore moved away. Eve took over driving duties when Mabel turned 101.
It was on one of those drives just a few weeks ago that Eve tried to ask Mabel about retirement. Seems that would be a reasonable conversation to have with someone who’s trending toward 104.
“Mabel, what do you think about next year with this club?” Eve said, as they left the Bethesda Women’s Club luncheon, having done another successful spread that included her beloved chicken salad and those sticky buns everyone raved about.
“What about it? I know they’ll book me,” Mabel snapped back.
No way she was going to stop. Catering was her third career, launched after she’d retired as an administrative assistant at the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. With events booked well into the spring, why would she even consider closing down a business she started when she was 70?
Plus, she was already planning the menu for her 105th birthday. She’d never forget what happened at her 100th. They cooked for about 450 people, but 700 showed up. Mabel briefly left the party to sneak into the kitchen so she could cut all the meatballs in half.
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