Beatrice Hudson, 100, wears heels to dialysis

By William K. Alcorn


Beatrice Hudson is a marvel.

The centenarian wears heels when she goes to Fresenius Medical Care of Cortland for four to six hours of dialysis three times a week.

Dialysis is a life-sustaining process that cleans waste products from the blood and removes extra fluids when a person’s kidneys fail.

When Beatrice was a young girl living in Mississippi, she picked cotton for the “boss man” on a plantation for $5 a month.

“I could pick 300 pounds a day,” she bragged with a chuckle.

She said she walked to school with other black children while white kids rode the bus back in the days of segregation.

The 14th of 15 siblings, as a young adult, Beatrice said she sometimes scrounged to find enough food to feed her children.

But despite the challenges, Beatrice, who celebrated her 100th birthday March 31, said: “Life was good in those times.”

It isn’t just that she is 100 and that she has been on dialysis for three years, it is that with her positive outlook she is the light in the room when she goes to the dialysis clinic.

The clinic’s staff members say Beatrice is an inspiration to her fellow patients.

“She always smiles and never complains,” said Kimberly Kerns, clinic manager.

Beatrice, who is not eligible for a transplant, has end-stage renal disease with almost no kidney function. And though it is a serious medical condition, patients have options, and every patient responds differently to treatment, Kerns said.

A lot of patients see it as a death sentence, but Beatrice remains active, Kerns added.

“You don’t often see 100-year-old patients on dialysis. She walks in and out of the clinic, and she walks up the steps to church [Triedstone Baptist Church in Warren],” Kerns said.

Beatrice’s daughter, Florence Williams, 54, who moved to Warren from Chicago to live with Beatrice, said her mother was out raking leaves a few days ago and she loves to fish with a cane pole.

Florence said her mother makes the most of her dialysis sessions and enjoys her visits with staff and fellow patients, some of whom call her “Grandma” or “Miss Bea.”

“I try to be good to people. It’s something the good Lord puts on me. Everywhere I go, I have friends,” Beatrice said.

“She is just a sweet person,” said her daughter.

Beatrice and her family moved from Mississippi to Chicago, where five of her children live. She came to Warren in 1997.

Beatrice says she gets her longevity “with the help of the good Lord.”

It might also have something to do with the family genes: Her older brother lived to be 100.

Having been around for a century and facing racial prejudice in the South and North, Beatrice has seen and experienced more of life than most.

But one thing that surprised and pleased her was the election of Barack Obama as president in 2008.

“I voted for Obama. But I never would have thought we’d have a colored man in the White House,” Beatrice said.

When asked what the president should do to live to be 100, she said “Serve the Lord and pray baby, pray.”

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