Celebrating a long life; Fleming enjoys 104th birthday party

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, March 10, 2018

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Happy Birthday

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Gola Mae Fleming blows out the candles on her 104th birthday cake while son Jerry and daughter-in-law Glenda look on. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

With her children, daughter-in-law and friends around her, Gola Mae Fleming celebrated her 104th birthday at Decatur Medical Lodge Thursday.

What’s her secret to living so long? “There wasn’t any reason to die,” Gola Mae said.

Her daughter, Gatha Longley, and son, Jerry Fleming, said their mother has spent her life caring for others.

“She’s affected many generations,” Gatha said.

Gola Mae was a stay-at-mother when she was younger, and she cooked for many local families.

“She was always taking food to people who needed it,” daughter-in-law Glenda Fleming said. “She’s been an example to all of us.”

In addition to cooking, Gola Mae always loved basketball and baseball. She’s such a huge Dallas Mavericks fan she attended their games for her 100th, 101st, 102nd and 103rd birthdays, meeting Dirk Nowitzki and Mark Cuban.

Gola Mae also enjoys telling old stories to her family.

“When she starts to tell a story, Gatha will say, ‘You told me that already,’ and she’ll say, ‘Let me tell it again and see if anything changes,'” Glenda said.

Even at 104, she can recall her very first memory – picking cotton with her mother at age 3.

“She thought I was too little to hold the sack, so she’d hold it and I would pick cotton,” Gola Mae said.

Cotton is actually something she credits for her long lifespan.

“Hoeing fields, picking cotton gave me strong muscles,” she said. “And I got outside and played.”

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