A 105-year-old California woman who joked about her secret to a long life – saying, “I go to heaven and I take the secret with me” – has died of COVID-19, just days before she was set to receive a vaccine, according to reports.
Margaret Sowma died Sunday at the St. John of God Retirement and Care Center in Los Angeles, three months shy of her 106th birthday.
“We were hoping to have a party if she had been vaccinated, take her out or something, we were planning to try to celebrate somehow, but it wasn’t meant to be,” Sowma’s niece Julie Bawcom told ABC7.
“At that age, anything can take you at any time, so I look back at a life well lived,” Bawcom said, adding that her aunt had been scheduled to receive the Moderna jab this week.
“Physically she would have still been up and around and moving around, and we would pick her up and take her places, and yeah, I think she would’ve still been around. For a few more years possibly,” Bawcom said.
Sowma, who lived through the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, the Great Depression and World War II, worked as a seamstress and later volunteered for the Red Cross, according to the Larchmont Buzz.
“At the age of 79, in a show of solidarity, she chained herself to a sewing machine outside a garment factory to protest poor wages and working conditions, and was arrested for her efforts,” according to her obituary.
Bawcom, who is volunteering at a vaccine clinic in Northern California, said her late aunt “just made friends across the board and that would be her legacy. She just embraced life and everybody that was in it.”