LIFE has been a sister act for pensioner Evaline Bell, a “very feisty, strong little old lady” who has just celebrated her 100th birthday.
Originally from Livingston Village, Evaline – known to friends and family as Eva – now lives in Belgrave Lodge Nursing Home in Corstorphine.
The centenarian lived with her sister Ruby for more than 60 years and the pair moved to the nursing home together.
Eva – who became the proud owner of a telegram from the Queen yesterday – had four sisters, all of whom made it to their 90s.
“As the sisters got married, they all moved to Carrick Knowe to be near each other – Eva, Alice, Rita and Ruby,” said daughter-in-law Doreen.
“They were very close. Eva then moved down to London because of her husband Jim’s work, and looked after their son Stewart.
“But then Jim was killed at work in a mechanical accident – 63 years ago.
“After that she moved back to Carrick Knowe to live with her sister, Ruby.
“Ruby never married. She was in the air force during the First World War. Her fiance was killed in the war, so she never married.”
With little state help available to widowed Eva – who had only been married for four years – she raised Stewart on her own.
Primarily a stay-at-home mum, she later worked for Westfield Cars near Gorgie and waitressed with Harwells at Colinton right up until her 70s.
“Harwells was a big cake firm and they would send Eva out to waitress at weddings and other functions,” said Doreen
Eva, who was very well known in the Carrick Knowe area, was particularly close to her sister Ruby.
“They went into the home at Belgrave Lodge Nursing Home together,” said Doreen. “Ruby was only two weeks away from her 102nd birthday when she died.
“Eva was 94 and she was looking after Ruby.”
Asked what she thought the secret to Eva’s longevity was, Doreen said: “She’s a very feisty, strong little old lady.
“She loved to keep her garden nice and she used to love coming to me each week and getting her hair done.
“Eva travelled a lot, because her other sister Alice eventually moved to Florida.
“Right up until Rita died, the sisters went out together for coffee and both of them worked up until their 70s.
Doreen said: “She spent all her life looking after people – she looked after her own mother until she died in her 90s, and then looked after Ruby. My daughter says they have all lived so long because there were no men in their lives.
“A few weeks ago I told her we would be having a celebration for her 100th birthday and she sort of made a face,” says Doreen.
“I said, ‘shall we say it’s your 21st’ and she said ‘that’s better’.”
Eva has one granddaughter, Samantha, and two great-granddaughters, Mika and Sasha.