While that might not sound all that remarkable, Lai is 100 years old and still living on her own. She's a little hard of hearing, but she's active and sharp.
According to her 68-year-old daughter, Sylvia Sugimoto, Lai slowed down a bit at the age of 99 1/2 after falling off her bed while changing a light bulb. Before her spill, she was exercising more than many young folks.
"She walked up a steep hill every morning at 5:30 a.m. on her own until she was 98. She was line dancing until she was 99," said Sugimoto, who lives in Kaimuki. "She's highly motivated to keep her mobility."
Lai also visits a drop-in senior center once a week that offers different classes and programs to engage in activities and games with other seniors. "I play mahjong. I'd prefer to play Scrabble, though," she said.
Several friends regularly visit her home for Scrabble matches, including one of her best friends, 26-year-old Chelsea Omura, who brings along husband Robert, also 26. Lai met Omura at a bus stop seven years ago and the pair instantly connected. Omura has since found out her friend is quite competitive and likes to win.
Lai raised three children and has two grandchildren. She became a registered nurse in 1934 and worked until she retired at the age of 62. She says one of her proudest moments was watching her grandson, David Sugimoto, get his nursing degree.
She admits she hasn't watched her diet over the years and gives in to her craving for wonton, although eggs are her favorite food.
"She has an appetite bigger than her sons and grandson," Sugimoto said.
When asked the secret to a long life, Lai said simply: "Just be yourself."
Faith also plays a role, said Lai, who reads inspirational messages and attends services at Central Union Church.
"When facing challenges, you just take it as it comes," she said. Her "work hard, play hard" attitude has certainly helped her along the way.
Widowed at the age of 59, Lai found a second chance at love. She met up with an old beau, Lawrence Lai, whom she hadn't seen in 50 years, and was married a second time at age 72. She was widowed again about five years ago and has been living independently ever since.
Lai said that turning 100 was an exciting experience. The family had a celebration and made gau, or Chinese mochi, for all the guests. She was able to visit with longtime friends and renew relationships with acquaintances.
She still maintains her household, but her daughter brings her meals, which makes Lai feel like she has "become a queen at 100."