When Jayne Burns turned 100 last summer, she told her friends that she had one wish: “to keep working.”
The centenarian was only half-kidding (she wished for a small birthday party and the health of her seven great-grandchildren, too).
She’s had the same part-time job as a fabric cutter at Joann Fabric and Crafts store in Mason, Ohio for 26 years — and it’s still one of her favorite ways to spend time.
“I enjoy what I do, so I want to keep doing it,” she says. “I’ll work for as long as I can or as long as they’ll have me.”‘
Burns — who turns 101 on July 26 — didn’t plan on working past 100. She tried retiring several times throughout her 70s and 80s, then would “unretire” just a few months later, taking bookkeeping jobs at veterinarian offices and accounting firms. Prior to joining Joann, Burns was a bookkeeper for most of her career.
“I like the routine, I like to keep moving,” she says.
Burns began working at the craft store in 1997, a few months after her husband, Dick, died. She heard about the job from her daughter, Donna Burns, who was working at the store part-time and thought the job might be a welcome distraction from the grief.
Donna was right: Burns, who has sewn for most of her life, enjoyed learning about new fabrics and recommending different patterns to customers.
The best part of her job, she says, is “the people.” “I enjoy talking to everybody I work with, and meeting the customers who are very nice,” she says, “even if some of them are surprised to see me at the cutting table.”
For the past 26 years, Burns has followed the same morning routine almost every day: She wakes up at 5 a.m., enjoys a cup of coffee — usually paired with a doughnut — and gets ready for work, before driving 20 minutes to the store, to be there for its 9 a.m. opening. She typically works from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., 3-4 days per week.
But she never works on Thursdays, which she’s reserved for self-care: getting her hair styled at a salon and shopping.
She also tries to spend time with her family on her days off. In addition to her seven great-grandchildren, Burns has three grandchildren and three children, including Donna, who she lives with in Cincinnati.
Ultimately, there’s no secret to living a longer, happier life, says Burns, but “working has helped.”
“Staying busy keeps you from focusing on your aches and pains,” she adds. “It makes it easier to keep going.”
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