Hallie Sims Celebrates 100: Family, friends of Madison resident share memories, daily routines
By Matt Rogers I Photos by Angelina Bellebuono
Old friends and family gather around to retell the story of one woman Hallie Sims, who just turned 100 years old on June 15. Her caretaker, her nephew, a neighbor of 20 years and a great friend of 50 years weave together the memories that Hallie has collected throughout the century of her life.
Her caretaker, Felicia Hyman, discusses how Sims is a sweet lady, and even at 100 years old, she doesn't want anyone's help because she feels deep down that she doesn't need it.
“She doesn't want you to do anything for her,” Hyman said.
Hyman and Sims read passages from the Bible together everyday. Their fingertips go from end to end of the rows of verses from Genesis; their eyes follow. They read aloud together simultaneously.
“I gotta come to a prayer house,” Hyman said.
The drone of the air conditioning window unit draws out a mundane, static mood, shattered as Sims draws in a breath and releases a cadence of beautiful singing like the sweet melody chirped by a mockingbird at sunrise.
“I can hear her singing everyday,” said Evelyn Terrell, Sims' neighbor of 20 years.
According to Sims’ nephew, Leroy Moore’s birth certificate, his birthday is July 4. However, Sims has adamantly stated for years that his actual birthday is July 14.
“They probably forgot to put the one,” Moore recollects Sims saying. “I know when you was born because I saw you.”
At 100 years old, Sims finds it hard to remember everything she has done in her life.
“You get old and just forget,” Sims said.
There is one prayer—she remembered every word, pause and point of inflection. She knew that prayer.
Head bowed and eyes closed, she recited those words. She drew her left hand to her chest as if God Himself drew His hand down from the Heavens to clasp hers.
Sims never married and never had any children of her own; however, in the 1960s she worked in the house of the Overtons. This is where she met her friend of 50 years, Edna Smith. Not too long after that she had to quit because her sister had fallen ill (and later died). Sims took it on herself to raise all nine of her sisters' sons and daughters.
Children these days barely get a spanking, but 50 years ago, corporal punishment was more severe. Sims was a disciplinarian, Moore said.
“We know to be good by the looks she gave us,” Moore said. “We could straighten up then.”
Even though Moore has lived in Alaska for years, he still talks to Sims by phone every day.
“She will always tell me something about the Lord,” Leroy said.
During the discussion of Sims’ past, she would occasionally ask, “Was I grown then?” According to her, people aren't fully grown until the age of 70.
Keeping out of the searing Georgia heat can be quite an arduous task, but a pitcher of iced cold sweet tea and great friends accompanying you can be the perfect remedy as you too can retell the stories from her past.