Altoona native Bertha Rose sits in her favorite chair impeccably dressed in navy slacks, a matching top embellished with lavender and pink flowers and round pearl earrings.
Her voice is firm and her memories clear as she approaches her 100th birthday Wednesday.
Bertha explains her oldest son Charles, 76, is taking her out to dinner at the Allegro Restaurant.
It’s a weekly ritual that Charles, Bertha and Charles’ wife, Sharon, started about a year ago.
“We love to take her out, and she loves to go out,” Charles said. “But she’s a typical mother and doesn’t want me to spend a lot of money. She worries constantly and tries to feed me all the right foods.”
And if her meal isn’t prepared to her liking, she doesn’t hesitate to send it back, Charles said, with a chuckle.
“She’s as honest as the day is long. It doesn’t matter if your opinion is different from hers, she says what she wants to say and doesn’t back off. The older she gets the more direct she is — we have a lot of fun.”
Bertha’s youngest child, John Ebersole, recounts a similar story where his mother’s determination to watch him play college football altered his plans.
Ebersole played linebacker for Penn State in the late 1960s before being drafted by the New York Jets in the fourth round in 1970, where he played for seven years.
Speaking by phone from his home in Mount Pleasant, S.C., John credited his mother for his college choice.
“I’d signed to go to Kentucky and she said, ‘No, it’s too far away. You can’t go there. You have to go to Penn State.’ It was so she could watch me play. She is an amazing woman.”
We always called her Big Bertha, but she was only 4-foot-11,” John continued. “As little as she was, she was mighty. We all respected her and listened to her.”
Bertha said she enjoyed John’s football career.
“I got to meet some great people like Joe Namath and Joe Paterno,” she said, “and I got to visit some incredibly beautiful houses.”
While she’s experienced a few falls recently, Bertha’s health remains good.
“I remember all the grandchildren and all the great-grandchildren’s birthdays,” she said proudly. It’s no easy task with 19 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
“I’ve had a wonderful, wonderful life,” Bertha said. “I’ve seen my children married and my grandchildren married, so now I’d like to see my great-grandsons married.”
An avid Sudoku puzzle worker, this great-great grandmother uses social media and plays games and solitaire on her iPad. And, she drinks one glass of…