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When my Aunt Ethel celebrated her hundredth birthday in January of 2020, several cousins (her nieces and nephews), traveled from far and wide to her home Ohio to celebrate this amazing milestone with her, her daughter and two grandsons. Also attending were five cousins who hailed from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and as far away as New Mexico. 

A little back story: FYI, Ethel is the last surviving sibling of nine, being the next to the oldest of her brothers and sisters. My mom was the eldest, born a year and a week before her little sister, Ethel. There were 26 of us cousins, some way out in California whom we’d never met until the 1960’s when they traveled east. Ruminating on all those cousins, now I can only guess how many more cousins there would have been if two of our uncles had survived into adulthood.

Many of the clan lived in the Pennsylvania area and saw the Ohioans infrequently. When they made the occasional trek to Pennsylvania, they were completely overwhelmed with the poker games and the accompanying spilled beer, as well as all the yelling and cursing, not to mention the nickels, dimes and quarters flying about. The many cousins played our own games in the living room, some helping Gram with a jigsaw puzzle, all oblivious to the swearing and thick cigarette smoke. Although in retrospect, I think some of us had to have absorbed a few of the “bad words”.

There was also the unfamiliar (to the Ohio crowd) pop, candy, cakes and all the other sweets you may be able to imagine. I always appreciated the coins I would find on the floor under the big well-worn oak kitchen table when the uncles and aunts finally left for home, still arguing loudly as they exited through the big wooden door. Of course, due to the sky-high glycemic load coursing through our veins, none of us kids could get to sleep for hours, still chattering a mile a minute. 

Anyway, back to the amazing birthday party. We enjoyed Chinese food, pizza, homemade beef stew, fresh dipping veggies and tortilla chips accompanied by various delicious, mouth-watering dips and salsa. Following the delicious meal, we whooped it up (OK, perhaps only a couple whoops, but they were big ones) as Aunt Ethel donned her big sparkly red tiara. We salivated until it was finally time to devour Sandy’s famous carrot cake with rich cream cheese frosting. Then Ethel blew out the candles (Aunt Ethel, don’t spit on the cake!), opened her cards and gifts among many well-wishes. We all enjoyed the laughter, conversation and sharing of memories, gratefully remembering the good-old-days.

Aunt Ethel learned to play and love the game, crokinole at the age of 99! This is a game that my Pennsylvania cousins and I learned and played in the 1950’s and 60’s. We called the game pieces “crokes” and still love the lively game. Our cousin Dave has even designed and constructed several beautiful boards. During family reunions,  you could barely hear yourself think with two or more boards being played (4 players per board), with all the laughing, yelling and reveling over great…and not-so-great shots going on. To learn about the Canadian-created board game, refer to: https://www.canadashistory.ca/explore/arts-culture-society/the-all-canadian-game-crokinole.

Can you imagine the changes Ethel has seen in 100 years? Just think about that. She was born in 1920; yes, there were cars and although very rudimentary, they certainly were a world of improvement over the horse and buggy of her “yesteryear”. And, picture this…not even halfway through her lifetime, in July of 1969 she (and her mom, who was born in 1896) saw space travel and men cavorting on the lunar surface. It is so amazing to consider the incredible historical reshaping of our world that she has experienced over the past century.

And so, during the Covid fiasco in January of 2021, Aunt Ethel, her daughter and grandsons celebrated Ethel’s 101st birthday in comparative isolation but with equal or perhaps even increased fanfare. God Bless you Aunt Ethel, my on-the-farm-mama (refer to “Dog Days of Summer”, my delightful blog published on August 24, 2020). What an amazing, miraculous life you have lived and continue to live. I love and admire you; thank you for all you have shared with us, your family and your friends!

5 Comments on “100 Years Young!”

  1. It was an absolutely delightful time! So blessed to be able to share it with such special people, so much laughter and love💗

  2. Thanks for sharing Deb! She sounds like a delightful woman to know. What memories you have of her and the times spent in her presence.

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