is still pursuing her lifelong hobby of woodworking.
Mercy Hospice Independence patient Ebert Bunch is rather modest about her life’s accomplishments. She even describes herself as “lazy."
But at age 100 and living with some lasting effects of a recent mild stroke, we’d say she has earned the right to a little rest.
And while she may have slowed down a bit in recent years, every day she still enjoys her lifelong hobby of woodworking.
“I have to have something to keep my hands busy and my mind occupied,” said Ebert.
Ebert resides in Independence at the home of her daughter, Peggy Garoutte, who retired a few years ago to stay home and take care of her mother. Positioned in their kitchen is a bandsaw, which Ebert uses to help fashion her wood creations…doll-house sized furniture, a toy truck, a pencil holder.
“She’s known for her bird houses,” said Peggy. “Hundreds of bird houses over the years.”
Also on display in the kitchen are a red wooden barn and white farm house Ebert made earlier this year – reminiscent, perhaps, of her long-time connection with rural life. She was born April 29, 1913, on a farm north of Elk City “way out in the boonies” and has lived most of her life in southeast Kansas.
As a teenager, she was introduced to the art of woodworking during a woodshop class her freshman year of high school with just a handful of other students.
“We had a good time,” she said of the close-knit class.
Later in life, she and her first husband made their living as farmers, caring for all sorts of livestock, including dairy cows.
“I milked the two cows by hand every day,” Ebert said. “I didn’t have no machine.”
The twice-a-day milking regimen, no doubt, was a good hand strengthening exercise that contributed to Ebert’s woodworking talent. Before the onset of arthritis, she tackled larger woodcrafts, like lawn ornaments.
“Her hands do not allow her to handle the big pieces of material any longer,” Peggy noted.
While many of Ebert’s current woodcraft projects adorn her house, some have made their way to the homes of friends and her very large family.
“We figured it up, and she has at least 90 living descendants, with two more on the way next year,” Peggy said.
Many of those family members have gathered the last two years to celebrate Ebert’s birthday.
“(My birthday) had always been ‘just another day’ until a couple years ago,” Ebert said, noting the family planned big parties for birthdays 99 and 100.
Ebert’s family has recognized the special privilege they have to enjoy her company, especially after a setback in her health with a “mini-stroke” in August. The stroke left Ebert with some slightly slurred speech and swallowing difficulties, and she was dismissed from the hospital under the care of Mercy Hospice. Hospice co-workers check in with the family weekly to keep an eye on Ebert’s health and provide support for personal care.
“The nurse comes once a week to check her vitals, etc., and another lady comes to help her with bathing,” Peggy explained. “We have been very, very happy with hospice. They have been extremely wonderful. We couldn’t have asked for better help.”
Peggy noted that while the hospice staff is currently providing rather minimal services, she knows Mercy Hospice is at the ready in case Ebert’s needs increase.
“We know we can call them anytime,” she said.
But that is a consideration for down the road. Today, Ebert is going strong, plugging away at her daily routines of woodworking, television watching, putting jigsaw puzzles together and yes, the occasional, well-deserved nap.