Published Monday, 22 October 2012
She came into the world the same year that the Titanic sank and the Ulster Covenant was signed.
At a hundred years of age she herself is a living milestone.
When we arrived at Cissie's house she had tea and buns all ready for us and the kettle on the range never cooled all the time we were there. She is no less hospitable, no less energetic, no less commanding a figure, simply because she has reached her first century.
Although she has seen many hardships throughout her long life and is the sole surviving member of her immediate family, all of whom she practically raised herself, she remains resolutely cheerful and industrious.
She belongs to that generation of people who had to do most things for themselves and who developed a range of skills to help them survive. Cissie has always been very handy with the knitting needles and she pulled out samples of her recent handiwork which showed that she still makes jumpers, cardigans, scarves, vests and socks for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
She also makes them for camera crews. Nothing would do her but to kit us all out in warm woolly socks for the weather that was in it. We tried to refuse out of politeness, not wanting to take advantage of her generous and impulsive nature, but we soon realised that it was much more polite to accept her gifts.
No sooner had we agreed to accept than we started arguing over who would get what socks.
Everybody wanted a particular colour, a particular length, a particular pattern and so on. I had to pull rank, purely in the interests of keeping the peace you understand, and insist that I was taking the green pair with the reinforced soles because they would match my wellies. Which they did. And still do. They are the warmest, cosiest socks I have ever owned.
Having warmed our feet, Cissie also warmed our hearts by taking out her mouth-organ and blowing a few tunes for us.
There are two things I would like to do before I reach Cissie's age. One is to play the mouth organ and the other is to learn to knit. I've tried to learn both on a number of occasions but to no avail. I don't have Cissie's dexterity, even if she is a hundred years old.
But I'll persevere. As Cissie says, I have plenty of time.