INDIANAPOLIS — What's the secret to life? An Indiana army lieutenant celebrating her 100th birthday on Friday thinks she has an idea.
"Life, I think we’re here to get an experience," said Aileen Cloonan.
At her home in Fishers, Cloonan has a mantle’s worth of memories.
"I got a hospital letter saying I was born on the 24th. We had been celebrating my birthday on the 25th for 20 years," she said.
The army lieutenant is celebrating her 100th birthday. She was born in the Great Depression in a small Ohio steel town. "It wasn’t until I got in the army that I really had frequent dates," said Cloonan.
Cloonan was in her twenties when she began working as a physical therapist in World War II.
She’s helped countless paraplegic patients, started a family and traveled the world.
However, it's only recently where she's had more time to reflect on her experiences. "It’s immense. I seem to be closer to tears anymore," said Cloonan.
It's thanks to family, friends and strangers. "Wisconsin, St. Paul, Hawaii," she said.
A simple birthday Facebook post led to dozens of birthday cards, many handmade and somehow even a letter from the president. "I would like to respond to everyone, but that would take another 100 years," said Cloonan.
The secret to a long life? "I don’t think you can do anything special."
However, she has the secret to a happy one. "Be grateful."
She said be grateful for every experience. "Looking back at my life, I wouldn’t change anything," Cloonan said. "My message to people is find the good in people. There’s always something there. "