RICHMOND, Va. -- Esther Wilkins of Richmond spent most of her 107 years on the family farm in Enfield, NC, where they grew cotton, tobacco, hogs and just about anything else.
She never drank or smoked or got married. "I never had time to sit down and talk to pick out me a man," she said during her birthday gala at Elliott's Restaurant on N. Laburnum Avenue, where many of her nieces, nephews and their children and grandchildren had gathered.
Her only bad habit was the occasional dip of snuff, if you don't count pork. It's her favorite. She says she has never tired of it. When fish or chicken gets old, pork always hits the spot. Pigs feet, lips, the nose, all good by her if it's cooked right, she says.
She has a taste for food because she spent her entire life cooking it for her vast family. She was one of 12 children, and the one who stayed in the kitchen unless she ventured out to Sunday school or to help someone in the area who was sick and needed a gentle touch, explained her 98-year-old sister, Revizer Robertson.
Then she cooked for her many nieces and nephews, and then their children - and on it went. A long life of serving others, her sister said.
Esther Wilkins says she never sassed her parents and always respected adults - the Biblical requirement for long life. She sees her many years as a gift.