The living room Patti Coles shares with her daughter Shirley Walkley is stuffed to the brim with floral arrangements.
"Friends brought all these beautiful flowers and plants," said Coles.
The occasion was her 102nd birthday on Aug. 21, making Coles one of Langley's oldest residents.
Coles is having an ongoing birthday party through much of the week, greeting friends at her Langley City apartment. Although she's slowed down a bit, she still meets visitors with a firm handshake and invites them in. She remains largely independent.
Although she's lived in Canada for more than 40 years, Coles still speaks with the distinctive accent of her upbringing and middle years near Sheffield.
"I talk broad Yorkshire still," she said. She and her first husband Bernard Firth ran a poultry farm outside of town. She recalled the bombing raids that hammered industrial Sheffield during the Blitz.
"They got it bad during the war," said Coles. She saw the damage on trips into town after the bombs had stopped falling.
After raising two children, a boy and a girl, and working most of their lives on the farm without a vacation, Patti and Bernard moved to Canada with their children in the early 1970s.
Bernard had never been on an airplane before and was somewhat alarmed to be so high off the ground.
The two settled in, with Coles working at the Langley Lodge kitchen and starting years of volunteer work with the Royal Canadian Legion's Langley branch. She was made a life member two years ago for her many years of dedication.
Bernard passed away in 1974, and Patti moved to Langley City.
In 1980, Coles married Percy John "P.J." Coles, after meeting him on a trip to Reno.
With Percy, she travelled extensively, heading to Hawaii and other destinations on a regular basis.
"He turned out to be okay," she said.
After Percy died in 1990, Patti settled down with her daughter.
Living a long life has given her an extensive family.
Patti and Bernard had two children, four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and several step-great-grandchildren, and she has two great-great-grandchildren at present.
Coles has a secret she believes is responsible for her long life: avoiding water.
"I never drink water, ever," she said. "Not since I was in my early teens."
She sticks to tea or juice for the most part.
"I've seen a lot of things, really, in my life," said Coles. "Not bad for 102."
@ Copyright 2013