LANGLEY, B.C. -- June 24 marks a milestone birthday for Langley senior John Kromhoff: one century on earth.

“I figure I’ve reached a goal,” he said. “And my next thing is, how long can I last?”

Due to the pandemic, Kromhoff initially wasn’t expecting too much for his 100th birthday celebration, according Katherine Ferguson, general manager of Chartwell Langley Gardens, the retirement home where Kromhoff lives.

“Maybe about a month ago, he came to me and he said he’s come to terms that it’ll be a little bit quieter than what he had hoped for,” she said.

Kromhoff said he knew health restrictions at the time meant his large extended family wouldn’t be able to gather.

“With the pandemic going on, the coronavirus, we couldn’t have certain amounts of people,” he said. “And we’ve got so many that we couldn’t have a party.”

That’s when Kromhoff’s granddaughter reached out on Facebook asking for cards, Ferguson said.

“That just kind of snowballed,” she said. “I believe he’s received over 1,200 cards now from all around the world.”

Kromhoff said he’s heard from people in Japan and Germany, and also received many cards from local schoolchildren, as well as from former clients from his real estate career.

“They’re saying in their cards how they enjoy their place,” he said. “I was 94 when I did my last deal.”

On the big day, staff decked out the retirement home’s lounge in honour of the space enthusiast, complete with stars, planets, and a virtual presentation from the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.

“I remember when Sputnik was up and I actually heard it on the radio, the signal,” he said. “They’ve done so much in the past few years with learning more and more about space travel, and they’re seeing way farther right now than they did even, say, a couple years ago.”

Outside, a parade of visitors came to wish Kromhoff well, including first responders.

“All the police here, I got a kick out of that,” he laughed. “I never expected something like this, but I appreciate it very much.”

He does have advice for longevity, but it’s not something he typically shares.

“I don’t tell anybody, because they don't receive help, because it annoys them more than anything,” he said. “So I have to just be quiet.”

He did reveal it involves healthy eating.

He’s also considering exploring a new frontier: Facebook.

“It’s a good way of getting around,” he said. “I’m going to join, I think, too.”

Best of all, with the most recent lifting of restrictions on June 15, Kromhoff is now looking forward to a family gathering in a couple of days, the first one in a long while.

“We haven’t had anything going for so long, it was getting pretty monotonous, I’ll tell you,” he said. “But it’s good now.”