Saturday, October 26, 2019

Celebrating 95 Years, October 26, 2019

Celebrating Maida Gower Shepard at 95

Next Friday, November 1, my mother Maida Gower Shepard will turn 95 years old, which is quite a milestone. Her family plans to have a small, quiet celebration on her actual birthday, but then will have an open house at mom's Church on Saturday afternoon, November 2, to which all family and friends are invited. Assuming mom is up to it, the Open House will be an opportunity to visit with her and celebrate this special day.

Maida Gower Shepard with husband Eugene Shepard 
and his brother Elmer Shepard, San Diego, 1945 
She was born on All Saints Day in 1924 in Mountain View, Arkansas, the second child of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. She married Navy man Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) in San Diego in 1945 and spent 58 wonderful years with him, first in San Diego then in Anacortes, Washington. Their life together has resulted in 6 children, 9 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren, and 2 great great grandchildren.

Not many things in life get to be 95, human or otherwise. Not airplanes, boats, animals, relationships, computers, furniture or any number of other items. Some things might be able to survive that long if well cared for, like cars, institutions, buildings and churches. But even if they make it to 95, it is somewhat extraordinary. Do you live in a house that is 95 years old? I never have. We do attend a local Church that is over 95 years old, but even that is cause for celebration.

Maida with daughter Barbara and son Russ
on Wildwood Lane, earlier this year.
Only 13% of American women, and only 7% of American men live to be 95. Being from the class of 1924, mom has been in good company. Others born that same year include President Jimmy Carter, President George H. W. Bush, Gloria Vanderbilt, Marlon Brando, Don Knotts, Dennis Weaver, Lauren Bacall, and Lee Iococca. Mom is from a family of people who tend to live long lives. Her mother Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004) lived to be 101 years old. Nola actually lived so long her family tended to forget the year she was born. Some swore she was born in 1902. But the historical record is very clear that she was born in 1903. My mom's grandmother Finetta Dearien Shannon (1861-1960) lived just 3 months short of 100 years. Her aunt Peggy Shannon Hutson (1885-1981) lived to be 95.

Longevity is not a given, nor is it necessarily a birthright. Staying healthy makes a huge difference. Mom has lived a healthy lifestyle which has contributed to her being able to live 95 years. This despite the fact that for years she breathed the second hand smoke of her father Leroy Gower. He was a life long smoker who died of lung disease at 75.

Kambree and Mandi Aquiningoc
June 2019
Celebrating 95 years is always a two-sided affair. At that age, the years clearly have taken their toll on a person mentally and physically. Yet it is also a wonderful time of honoring, celebrating, and proudly affirming a dear family member whose life is very deserving of all the accolades she receives.

Birthday Wishes today to Mandi Aquiningoc! One of mom's Great Grandchildren is Mandi Aquiningoc of Weatherford, Texas whose 27th birthday is today. Mandi is the mother of 6 year old Kambree, who is one of mom's two great great grandchildren. Happy 27th Birthday to Mandi!
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Steve Shepard

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