CLICK HERE for the article about Great Uncle Jake and his 105th birthday. He actually got to read it and sent me a note. I'm looking for that note.
By 9 a.m. Saturday morning, I was up to my elbows in homemade vegetable soup, a hand-knit sweater, and framing a photo for a wedding gift. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I turned on my cell phone. I think I was going to call my mother, instead, I found a message. My children maintain if I turn that phone on, it would be more useful. However, in spite of having a cell phone for nearly 10 years, it's mostly always off. In case of an emergency, it's on. On the other hand, my Uncle Ed uses his phone, and he has a computer with e-mail. The message was from him. He had called on Friday. I called him back right away.
"Do you want to go to a birthday party for a 105-year-old in South Dakota," he asked. It surprised me, because I didn't know what he was talking about.
"Uncle Jake," he said. "We are meeting your mom and dad in Wishek, and then driving to Bowdle." Darn. Looking at the mess in my house, and not being able to figure out how to leave it, I turned him down.
"Take pictures," I said, before hanging up. "Thanks for reminding me. I will go get the camera right now," he said. Sure enough, by Sunday evening I had e-mail with photos of Uncle Jake, my parents, some aunts and uncles, and the cake. Now, I'm not sure but I think Uncle Jake is my grandmother's brother because they have the same last name.
That would make him Uncle Ed's uncle and my, well.... You get the picture. We've never been able to decipher the second cousin, once removed, thing, so why try? The photos were great. Not knowing what to expect, I was surprised. I remember seeing Uncle Jake at the family reunion in Bismarck about three years ago. Wow, he looks fantastic or as close to that as possible when you are over 100 years old. I'm sorry I didn't get the message any sooner, it would have been a great experience, and there may never be another chance. Hopefully, someone sent the photo to the Today Show and the Smucker's Jelly birthday segment because I do not know too many people who even think about living that long.
Uncle Ed said Uncle Jake's getting a little tired of celebrating birthdays and was commenting on how he'd rather everybody came to his funeral instead. Perhaps that's true. Think about the changes you have seen in your lifetime.
Then, think about the changes that have occurred in the past 105 years. In 1901, the Wright Brothers built a 17-foot glider. But, another man, Gustave Whitehead a Germany immigrant reported to authorities that he gained flight in his flying in a field in Fairfield, Connecticut. He stated that he was able to sustain flight where he gained an altitude of 200 feet and flew 1.5 miles just before dawn. "I was soaring above my fellow beings in a thing my own brain had evolved". The craft had two propellers driven by a 12 HP engine that weighed 54 lbs. There were no photos, so nothing could be proved. Between 1901 and 1904, Pablo Picasso was going through his Blue Period. He was painting with mostly blue colors in a style that was not recognized at the time - abstract art. In 1901, Marconi sent his first radio communication across the Atlantic Ocean, and King Gillette invented a safety razor with a disposable blade. Corn Flakes were not made until 1906. Zippers were invented in 1914, and the television came along in 1926. In was 1938 until the ballpoint pen was invented, so Uncle Jake must have written in pencil until he was 37 years old, unless he used a quill and I doubt that. In 1952, the transistor radio made music and news portable.
Now, we are able to have television on our phones, televisions, and laptops. Can you imagine how life has changed for Uncle Jake in 105 years? Heck, life has changed so much in my lifetime and I'm not even half his age...
Some days, I wonder what I did before a computer. There was no e-mail or Internet, no online banking, no e-books, music videos, or digital images. It was great. If I remember correctly, I gardened, canned, baked, and cooked to my heart's content. It was a great life. So, yes, I can see why Uncle Jake feels a bit like it's time to go home.
Uncle Ed said, "I've never met anyone who wants to home to heaven as much as Uncle Jake."
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.