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A 90th Birthday

We just returned from Wyoming where we joined in the celebration of my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday. In these days of Covid-19, we could not throw the party we would have liked, but we all enjoyed our time together despite the need for social distancing.

As the woman we all know as Grandma reached this milestone, I thought about my own family members who reached their nineties. There have not been many.

In my own generation, we are all years away from our nineties. We cannot tell who among us might reach this age although we know one who will not. My brother James Reed (1959-2017) has already passed away.

Of my parents and those in their generation, only my father Earl Reed (1927-2017) reached ninety. My mother did not, and neither have any of their siblings. One still has a chance, though. My maternal aunt is eighty-one.

None of my grandparents lived to be ninety. My grandmothers’ siblings did not, either. My grandfathers’ families had more longevity:

  1. Annie Reed McDavitt (1870-1967) was my paternal grandfather’s half-sister.
  2. Bertha Reed Richards Evert (1884-1981) was my paternal grandfather’s eldest full sister.
  3. Viola Mae Reed Gwinn (1889-1983) was another of the same grandfather’s full sisters.
  4. Otto Sigurd Bentsen (1918-2013) was my maternal grandfather’s younger brother.

We had some nonagenarians in my great-grandparents’ generation as well:

  1. Ida May Reed Bovell Thompson (1864-1954) was my paternal great-grandfather’s youngest sister.
  2. Anna Petronellia Sherman Reed (1865-1961) was my paternal great-grandmother.
  3. Ole Jørgen Bentsen (1880-1976) was my maternal great-grandfather.
  4. Olga Mattila Silberg (1874-1969) was another maternal great-grandfather’s older sister.

My father always claimed that people normally do not live into their nineties and that only occasional outliers actually do. He may have been right about that, at least in our family. In three generations, only eight of my own family members, out of 90 people, have reached this age.

It was somewhat ironic, then, that he would reach ninety himself. My mother-in-law, too, has lived this rare, long life. We were glad to join in with other family members to celebrate this achievement yesterday. The drive to another state for the day was worth it.

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