MERRIMACK, N.H. — Carsten Hahn was born during World War I, lived through the Great Depression, and served during World War II, but he claims the major (and most upsetting) changes in this country are due to “those four kids from England,” more commonly known as The Beatles.
He’s seen the shift of “Big Band” music into rock and roll and pop music (which he hates) — just as Merrimack has transformed from a town with one stoplight and dirt roads into a bustling town cut through by a major highway.
At 101 years old, Hahn still gets dressed in a collared shirt and sweater every day, in the same home he’s lived in for 55 years.
He leads a quiet life, reading the newspaper and watching TV, with occasional visits from family, neighbors, or the Meals on Wheels delivery people, who bring him a meal every day.
Hahn lost his wife of 70 years, Simone, this past May and, he admitted time has gone more slowly since.
But he’s “had a very good life with a wonderful wife and wonderful children,” he said.
He and his wife, who he “convinced” to marry him in a series of letters over the course of a year, kept busy raising four kids — two girls and two boys.
Now grown with families of their own, Hahn has nine grandkids and five great-grandkids, the majority of whom live close by in New England.
In the last few years, he and his wife had been active in senior bowling leagues, their church, Boy Scouts of America and volunteering at the Nashua Soup Kitchen. But once he hit 90, Hahn said, his health began to deteriorate.
“It seemed like I was in the hospital at least once a year,” he said, citing spinal and hernia surgeries, and a heart attack.
Around six years ago, when his wife also was ill, they realized they could no longer cook for themselves, and turned to meals on wheels.
Now, Hahn is visited by volunteers every afternoon. They grab his mail and check on his general well-being, as well as deliver a hot meal, which he generally heats up for dinner.
This Christmas season, he was also given a gift bag filled with warm clothing, puzzle books, a treat and toiletries, as well as a large, handmade quilt from the Merrimack Quilters Guild.
Each year, Meals on Wheels selects different clients to receive one of the 100-plus handcrafted quilts donated from local groups, and sends them out with the meals and bags.
St. Joseph Community Services Meals on Wheels in Merrimack is the largest in the state, and delivers and average of 1,450 meals daily across Hillsborough County, according to a fall memo from the organization.
Hahn, just one of them, said the organization has been a “godsend” and has been what has kept him in his home the last few years.
He feels “fortunate” to have the team of people around him that he does, and it also give his family “some peace of mind.”
His legs don’t work as well as they used to, making it hard to stand for long periods of time and his eyes and ears are straining, but Hahn, a former electrical engineer, is still sharp as ever, and even grabbed a fruit fly out of the air while chatting at his kitchen table.
Despite his advanced age, he said, he is actually doing relatively well. Just recently, a VA nurse told him he had the health of an 86 year old.
He never smoked, rarely drank, spent a lot of time outdoors and had a marriage with very few arguments, he said, naming contributions to his long life and relatively healthy body.
This year, his oldest son and daughter and their families will visit him for Christmas.
At 101, he said again that he had a “wonderful marriage with wonderful children” and that he “can’t ask for anything more.”
Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.nashuatelegraph.com