Memphis woman, 102, prepares to attend inauguration

Published: Dec. 31, 2008 at 9:38 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 31, 2008 at 10:41 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis woman who just turned 102-years-old is preparing for what she says could be the most exciting event of her lifetime - the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

Willie Mae Irving never thought she would be there when Obama takes the oath of office, but thanks to a couple of inauguration tickets from Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, she is going to Washington.

Born in 1906, Irving was raised by her grandparents in rural Fayette County. They were freed slaves, and talked with her often about their brutal slave owner.
"He would whip them, you know?  The man that owned them would whip them," she said.

As a young woman, Irving worked as a cook for the local mayor.  In 1927, she married her husband, George. By the time he died in 1986, they had raised 4 kids and enjoyed and incredible 56 years of happiness.

"I loved him," she said.

As for Obama, Irving says she wishes him well, and she says if they ever meet she'll have plenty to say.

"I would say, 'You do the right thing and God will bless you. Don't go there trying to do something you think is wrong. Do the right thing,'" she said.

Although she's 102, Irving still likes to cook and work in her garden.  Irving says you're only as old as you feel, and she feels pretty young right now.

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