EVELINE Charles says if her father had asked her mother to travel to the moon, she would have asked "what do we pack?"
Frieda Ueckert's lively spirit has served her well in her 100 years, a birthday she celebrated at the Tabulam & Templer Homes for the Aged in Bayswater last week.
She was already a well travelled adventuress when, as a 43 year old and with her husband, Edwin, and their two teenage children, she moved to Australia from Switzerland.
As a young woman, she spent a year in Lyon working as an au pair and learning to speak French. When she married her Edwin, they again moved to Paris, and later to Palestine.
The couple had a friend in Australia who secured Mr Ueckert a job at Melbourne University. The family bought a home in Oakleigh and Mrs Ueckert worked as a dressmaker at Happy Garments.
Mrs Ueckert came from a family of nine and had two children of her own — Eveline and Hans-Ruedi.
Eveline (Mrs Charles) met her future husband 10 years after they moved to Australia and spent much of her time travelling around the world.
On a trip back home to visit her parents, Eveline's father, aged 72, died the night before they were due to return to Europe.
From that point on, Mrs Ueckert travelled the world with her daughter. "I guess it had its challenges, I have to congratulate my husband — he was very tolerant," Mrs Charles said.
Together, they spent time in Geneva, Canberra, Berlin and Melbourne. Despite suffering a stroke in 1995, Mrs Ueckert travelled to Penang to see her grandson marry. "The children had a close relationship with their grandmother," Mrs Charles said.
She said her mother's philosophy was — and still is — "no regrets". She never dreamt of again living in Switzerland. "She doesn't dwell on things and she doesn't look back, ever."
However, she did keep the Swiss culture alive with her cooking. Mrs Charles said a family favourite was roesti — now a popular breakfast item in Australia (also known as rosti) of cooked grated potato.