This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending my grandfather’s 100th birthday party. His actual birthday isn’t for a few more days, but well; scheduling the entire family gets tricky. Arriving on Friday night I had the chance to visit with all of my cousins, their spouses, and kids. I remember remarking to someone how it would be nice if the ‘younger’ generation got a chance to visit… and then I realized that I am no longer part of the ‘younger’ generation. The youngsters now range in age from two weeks old up to just starting Jr. High. (It was still a good idea for them to get to spend some time together) I can hardly say however that it made me feel old, given the reason for the gathering.
My grandfather has done and seen quite a bit with his years. Born before the start of World War I, he remembers that war (barely); the great depression, where he worked as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps in northern Wyoming; serving in World War II, where he had to get a permission slip from his wife because he was ‘too old’; raising three daughters along with the help of his wife and live-in mother-in-law; and working as a salesman on the road until he retired. Now all of that was just the first 50 years or so…
Around the time he retired (slightly before) he started buying and selling and renting houses to keep himself busy, taking road trips with his wife, traveling the world, and becoming a wonderful backyard gardener. (Other than the traveling bit, he was still doing most of this up to about six months ago) After his first wife died, a few years passed and he married his second wife (around the age of 85 if memory serves…and it may not) and spent several years living happily with her before she had medical problems that required her to live in a nursing home. He visited her and brought her flowers every day for nearly 5 years before she passed on. Then, about age 96 (my memory isn’t the absolute greatest) he married his third wife, who he lived quite happily with until very recently when his medical problems intervened. (She’s an absolute peach, and a great cook).
This weekend we all got together to celebrate 100 years. The mayor of his town declared his birthday J.C. Campbell day, with an official certificate, and friends and family from around the country gathered to enjoy cake and good company. He also got to meet his newest great grandchild, born two weeks ago.
I sincerely hope that a) I live as long, with as good a health as he has been blessed with b) that I have as many good friends and family around with me to celebrate it.
Happy Birthday Pa!