For the past two years we have helped Elsie celebrate her birthday. For the longest time it wasn't on my radar that we had relatives here in Mesa, just a couple of miles from us. Elsie's mother, Anna, is my grandfather's Aunt. Anna left Sweden to follow her sister, Julia, to America in the early 1900's. That makes Elsie, my grandfather's cousin.
Here is Emma with Elsie, on her 98th birthday.
Here she is turning 99. She has stopped aging. I mean really.
Last year we told her, "Oh my gosh, Elsie! Next year you are going to turn 100!" She couldn't believe it herself. She just keeps plugging along. She is bright and cheery, can still get around with a walker, lives with her younger brother, John who is a young 91, in an apartment not too far from us. We have been looking forward to her 100th birthday all year. Today is finally the day. It's here! I have never personally known anyone who has lived this long, so it has been so much fun getting to know Elsie and John. I had the opportunity to interview Elsie last week and hope to put together something to celebrate her life. We will gather with family on Sunday to celebrate in style.
This is one of my favorite photos of Elsie, when she was around 6.
She grew up in Wyoming. She loved animals and especially loved riding horses. She said she was a shy girl who didn't want to be in the limelight. Wouldn't it be fun to time travel and meet people at different stages of their life? I would have loved to meet Elsie at 6. She attributes her long life to good genes. She has never done anything special to promote longevity. I hope it has something to do with her Swedish heritage. I'd like to think we're a hardy bunch.
Elsie married Fred Bemel in 1932. Five years after they were married, Fred was diagnosed with MS and they were counseled by the doctor not to have any children. Not much was known about MS in the 30's, so they didn't have any children. They spent 52 years together, before Fred passed away in 1984. Elsie soon relocated to Mesa from Northern California to be near her brother, John and his wife. She is a delight to talk to and told me several times not to make a fuss, but who wouldn't?! It's not every day that someone gets to finish a century of living here on this earth. That is worthy of celebrating. We feel blessed to have both John and Elsie around.
I've been thinking about what you get for someone turning 100 and the one thing that I came up with was some love and attention (and maybe a jar of pickled herring!), so that's why I've enlisted the help of family and friends to send Elsie a birthday card. I think it would be fun if they trickled in all month. For those of you who have already done this, Thank You!! She showed me her first card last week, so I know she enjoys the mail. She is too hard of hearing to talk on the phone, so a little card in the mail is a good connect to the world around her. If you'd still like to get in on this, here is her address:
35 W. Brown Rd., #229
Mesa, AZ 85201
Happy 100th Birthday, Elsie!!
(even if they don't have a computer, I hope she can feel the good wishes)
More to come...