Palm Bay woman faces future with optimism, hope


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Hazeline Holder celebrated her 90th birthday with friends.

JENNIFER H. MONAGHAN

At 90, Hazeline Holder faces the future with optimism and hope.

“Life has its ups and downs and in-betweens,” said the petite Holder, who has ridden them all with aplomb. When there’s an up, she says, “Girl, enjoy,” and when she’s challenged with a down, she quotes televangelist Rev. Robert Schuler, “Turn your scars into stars.”

Holder immigrated to the United States in her 30s with her husband and children. She worked her way up to manager at a major bank in New York. Widowed at age 42, she raised four successful children as a single mother.

As she approached her 90th birthday, her daughter asked her, “If you could have one wish, what would that be?” Without hesitation, she said, “I wish I could remember my friends’ names.”

Holder worries that her current “down” of dementia will rob her not only of friends’ names, but also of cherished memories.

On June 29, her close friends gathered at her daughter’s home to celebrate her birthday. They reminisced about their shared experiences and heartily sang some of their favorite childhood songs. It was a joyous occasion.

Holder grew up in Jamaica in a large, close-knit family. As she got older, she applied that core family value of loyalty and caring for others to friends. A favorite Bible verse of Holder is Proverbs 17:17: A friend loves at all times.

After retirement, Holder relocated to “My Palm Bay,” as she adoringly refers to the city that she has loved from the start. A volunteer with the Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce for more than 20 years, she also sang for church and community choirs.

A project that is most meaningful to Holder as a founding member of the non-profit Fifty Plus and Bridging, which awarded scholarships to Palm Bay children.

Frustrated by her inability to complete tasks as quickly as in the past, Holder often says, “My brain isn’t working.” She, nonetheless, maintains a good sense of humor and a keen interest in a lively discussion. She attends church and Bible study weekly.

Holder is an exceptional example to her family and friends of someone who lives life to the fullest. With overwhelming gratitude, she was thrilled to be the guest of honor at her birthday parties.

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