I recently ran across a video of a woman who was 103 years old and she was running in a race — and she won.
I did a little digging and found out her name was Julia Hawkins and she lived in Louisiana. After doing a little more searching, I found a phone number and though I wasn’t entirely sure it was hers, I called it anyway.
I was so happy when Mrs. Hawkins answered and agreed to speak with me. She’s now 104, and she was a pure delight.
Mrs. Hawkins told me she used to be an avid bicycle rider, and while she competed in numerous competitions on her bicycle, she found it was becoming increasingly difficult when it came to shifting gears, especially on hills.
So, at the tender age of 100, Mrs. Hawkins switched to running.
“I just loved the competition of running in races,” she told me. “I fell in love with it.” Mrs. Hawkins has been in Sports Illustrated magazine three times — and at the age of 101 years old, she set a world record in the 100-meter run.
I can’t wait to read her book: “It’s Been Wondrous: The Memoirs of Julia Welles Hawkins.” Her book is co-written with Margaret Hawkins Matens. She told me when she turned 80 years old she decided to write her autobiography.
The book chronicles Julia’s incredible life, beginning in 1916, the year she was born when her family took a boat from Chicago to Louisiana and relocated to Ponchatoula. Apparently there are hundreds of pictures in the book to go along with the stories about her life.
I loved listening to her tell me the story of how she met her husband Murray “Buddy” Hawkins on her first day at LSU. Her memory to all of the details is extraordinary. It was just adorable when she recounted about meeting her soon-to-be husband and how smart and good looking she thought he was.
“He was so tall and handsome — I still have my diary when I wrote that about him when we met,” she said. Murray was serving in the Navy when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Mrs. Hawkins said they were married by telephone. Adorable!
Hearing that and knowing the couple were married for 70 years brought tears to my eyes. The couple had four children — two girls and two boys. As a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, it’s obvious how much Mrs. Hawkins loves her family.
I love that Julia and Murray were married for 70 years — and that Murray lived to be 95 years old before passing.
I also asked Mrs. Hawkins about the current climate of the pandemic and how she was doing. She told me she stays active — no surprise there!
“I walk lots — and I am so happy to see so many people outside as well — I think young people are inside too much — people need to be outside more.”
It was inspiring to speak with Mrs. Hawkins and I would love to meet her one day. One thing that was so sweet that she talked about, was encouraging people to pay attention to “magic moments.” I asked what she meant by that and she said: “I want people to notice rainbows, hummingbirds, nature in general, music — these are the magic moments we should all notice and appreciate.”
The past few months have been troubling and unsettling. It was so uplifting to speak with this amazing centenarian — thank you for sharing your thoughts Mrs. Hawkins.
Adlen Robinson is an award winning columnist and author of “Organic Food and Kitchen Matters.” You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.