Still Graceful and Still Grateful at 109

In a much simpler time, a rag doll named Raggedy Ann was patented and the novel, “Alice In Wonderland,” was adapted for the Silent Screen.
North Royalton long time resident Emma Kmet was born that same year…..1915.  Women had not yet been granted the right to vote,  a cup of coffee was five cents and Ford Model T cars were just on the road.  It’s been 109 years since then, and Emma has celebrated her 109th Birthday on January 31 in style and with grace and gratitude!  As she says, “There’s a bright side to everything!”
Born to Paul and Suzanna Demian in the Tremont section of Cleveland, Emma was raised in a Slovak family.  She has outlived all three of her sisters, Ellen, Elsie and Sally and her husband, Ed Kmet, who she met at a friend’s wedding in 1940. A handsome young man walked over to her and asked, “Can I have the pleasure of sitting this dance out with you?”  They married Thanksgiving Day in 1941 and spent their Honeymoon as spectators at the University of Michigan (Ed’s Alma Mater) versus Ohio State game!  “I had a pleasant, happy childhood considering the years I’ve lived through,” she says.  The move to North Royalton came in 1943 where Ed and Emma  raised  three children, Mary Lou, Eddie and Emmy, who all attended North Royalton schools.  “I was active during my children’s school years,” she says, along with quilting, sewing, baking and gardening.
For many years, Emma was a devoted member and President of the North Royalton Garden Club.  “There were woods in our backyard where the kids would play and the family would hold picnics,” remembers Eddie.  “Our mom was an avid gardener.  She planted 150 daffodil bulbs on the edge of the woods because the deer don’t eat them.”  As a gardener and even as a child, Emma enjoyed the outdoors tremendously.  The Demian family members took part in the American Slovak Sokol Camp in Broadview Heights.  Today, Emma is an Honorary member, attends their annual picnic and is still fluent in Slovak!  Until recently, she still was in the kitchen making kolaczki!
“I’ve inherited a sense of craftsmanship. From my mother, it was handiwork; and my father, it was woodwork,” says Emma.  Her father did furniture repair and refinishing for Cleveland’s high-end furniture stores after owning his own meat and grocery store in Tremont. The grandfather clock he made is still in the family.  Her mother made every  meal from scratch and sewed all of their clothes.
Good taste and style seems to be passed down too.  Emma still likes quality clothing and jewelry!  “I always had real nice clothes and I always sewed since I was a teenager (a word not yet in use in 1915).  Jeans were not in style then.”  Her only granddaughter is fortunate to have the maxi length velvet patchwork skirt that Emma made!’  “My granny has always been a warm and comforting presence.  I cherish wonderful  memories of her pulling me in a little red wagon around the neighborhood and sending my favorite cookies. She has always been a source of love and enthusiasm.  I’m grateful to have gotten to have her all these years,” says Michelle Slavit.
Carrie Cerinos was always the place of birthday celebrations among eleven cousins!  They played together in the 1920s and 1930s and stayed close their whole lives!  Those gatherings are a thing of the past.  “Today, I have beautiful memories of times and people,” says Emma.  “There were  beautiful remembrances from each year that I look back on fondly.  Many happy years and some sadness occurred.  But that was life.”  And she adds, “I’m happiest when everyone is enjoying their life!”
Emma’s secret to a long and healthy life…”Keep working.  Don’t retire,” as she confessed to a film crew on her birthday!  That’s something her father used to tell her.
And as her daughter Emmy reminds us, “Mom always says goodbye with, “God bless you and I love you!”
Submitted by Arlene Pachasa