The 100-Year Story

These past few months have been pretty crazy around here.

Some high-highs and some low-lows. Milestones and heartbreak.

(I’m not gonna lie. There’s still a lump in my throat and I get teary-eyed thinking about November.)


I’ve missed my kids ever since they moved to Oregon, but I never needed them home like I did this December.

They were with us for a full month and we soaked up the joy from bell to bell.

But the highlight of highlights was my grandfather’s 100th birthday.

Yep. This guy’s a centenarian now.

(Side note: Apparently Hallmark has a limited selection for the occasion. He received a LOT of the same cards.)

Over a dinner of homemade meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy (his favorite!), Grandpa told us stories.

Some I’d heard before; some he shared for the first time. All of them were so, so good.

The night my grandparents met, they were both slightly embarrassed by their unusual names. So Knute Anderson introduced himself as Andy, and Renis Ann told Andy she was Ann. I asked Grandpa how long he waited to admit the truth and he answered, deadpan:

“Only about five years.”

Well. He and Grandma married a year or so after they met, so I knew he was kidding about the timeline. But that’s Grandpa for you.

Still sharp as a tack and funny as hell. Gosh I love him so.

And I’ll never stop wishing I could’ve been a fly on the wall when they confessed the truth to each other:

“Hey, Ann. I’ve got something to tell you.”

“I do, too, Andy. Please let me go first.”


Knute and Reny have been married for 76 years now, together for almost 78. The numbers are kind of mind-boggling, right?

Then again, so is being alive for a century and counting.

Since Grandpa’s birthday (and in the months leading up to it) I’ve paused to catch my breath, allowing my heart to catch up to my head.

(Some feelings are too big to process quickly. Both the good ones and the bad.)

One thing that’s been simmering in my head and heart is what stories I might tell around the dinner table at the tail-end of 100 years.

I hope we won’t be having meatballs and mashed potatoes and gravy (not my favorite!) but I hope I will be surrounded by my children and future grandchildren and maybe a great grandchild or eight.

What will my best story be? Has it already happened or is it yet to come?

I don’t have the answer. I’m just asking myself now, inviting the question in:

Come. Stay awhile.

Maybe you’d like to give this question some thought, too.

At your 100th birthday, what do you want your best Once Upon a Time to be?

Has it already happened or are you still waiting?

Pause and breathe. Listen to the voice inside you. Your answer could be a shout—out-loud and confident—or a hopeful, hesitant whisper.

Either way, keep heading toward happiness. Seek your joy by any means necessary.

I’ll be right there pulling you forward—or maybe pushing you from behind, or maybe walking arm in arm beside you—

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is this:

(We were trying to take Grandpa’s picture, but he only had eyes for his bride.)

(My grandfather is on the right, with his brother Carl and his father Carl, circa 1937.)

Pretty great, right?

We are all very lucky. Maybe even the luckiest.

So thank you, Grandpa.

In case you were wondering, you’re one of the best stories of my life.



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7 thoughts on “The 100-Year Story

  1. Diane

    I love the idea of waiting to see what my “once upon a time” moment will be and also the idea of knowing that you’ll be by my side.

  2. Shauna

    Wonderful, thought-provoking post, Julie! Thank you for sharing!

  3. I love this. Made me wonder if my once upon a time has happened already. I’ve had a few. But I’m open to more. You ARE lucky.

  4. Mrs Kay Moir

    Another beautifully written piece of your history.
    I’ve had some good, some bad,some happy,some sad but i am hoping that my once in a lifetime story is still in the mix.

  5. Michelle Hillstrand

    I love your world view and perception on life Julie. You are blessed, but you are also the blessing. Your stories always leave me with a lump in my throat and a laugh waiting to come out at the same time. You are so talented. Love you.

  6. Beautiful post- and good to ponder on a Monday morning. My grandparen7wnted to leave until 100- didn’t make it but they certainly enjoyed their lives. Blessings to you, your grandparents and your family!

  7. I love this and I love you. Your writing makes me so happy. Thank you for sharing your stories. They are wonderful

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