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By guest columnist Eileen Jessen, Albuquerque

I am not sure how to get my Grandma celebrated on a Smucker’s Jar. I mean, she did all of the hard work of reaching the age of 100. The least I can do is get her mentioned on morning television for a couple of seconds!

I sent the information in a couple of months ago.  Not sure if we will make the cut, and her birthday is coming up soon! My Aunt Theresa told me that my Grandma’s sister Pauline turned 100 a few years back but the milestone had been overlooked. It is a blessing to have family members reach this age, and I want to make sure we celebrate this special birthday. So, I looked into the NBC Smucker’s jar idea. On the application, I was asked to provide information about my Grandma’s hobbies and to share interesting antidotes. 

Well, that’s a tall order, as my Grandma has had quite the life!   

I asked myself, what could I share that would really make her stand out from the many other folks who are turning 100? My aunt gave me some good information, and of course I had my own memories. I put all this awesomeness of her on the application in the little space I was given. After I sent it off, I decided to write things down about my Grandma, and I began it in the middle, from my perspective. I actually lived with my Grandmother when I was in my late teens. I am lucky she let me live…I was not a delight! Beatrice Jessen was before her time in many ways. My family members and I remember when we would go to a restaurant and Grandma would ask about MSG in the food. This was in the 60’s, and no one knew what she was talking about. I remember when the doctor told her she should take a pill for potassium. She declined and instead ate an extra banana and sat in the San Diego sun for a few additional minutes each morning. Not following the norms set out for everyone is probably part of the reason she has made it to the age of 100!  

Courtesy Eileen Jessen

My Grandma Beatrice Zimmer was born on October 21, 1922 in upstate New York, the fifth of six children.  She grew up on a farm, and yes, she walked three miles each way to school!  At a very young age Beatrice found that she was drawn to both writing and drawing. She was not the best at the beginning, but there was something inside of her that made her want to improve, and with much practice she found that this was her passion. She went on to write stories and poetry. Beatrice was also on her high school basketball team in Wayland, New York. In fact, she was part of the Wayland High School basketball team which won the 1938 state championship!  She was a well-rounded student, I’d say!

After high school graduation, her parents sold the farm and moved to San Diego, California. Beatrice moved to Richmond, Indiana, with her sister and went to school for her secretary skills. She then followed her parents to San Diego. Beatrice was working as a secretary to the owner of the KUSD radio station. A good job! There she met my Grandfather Jess Jessen, a Marine. They married in 1943. In 1955, with their three children, they moved to Japan. 

Later, Beatrice became a successful real-estate agent, long before it was commonplace for women to be working outside of the home. My Grandmother has a great mind for business, something I know personally, as I have asked for her business advice in the past.  

Grandma also studied for the Unitarian ministry, living as ministry teacher in Unity Village, Missouri for four years. As I’ve mentioned, one of her passions is writing, and she has even written two self-published books. As for poems, she won the Golden Poet Award in 1990!  In addition to being a gifted writer, she is a wonderful artist. Her paintings are so special that she has reproduced them as cards for family and friends. It has always been such a treat to receive one of her beautiful cards. She ended up creating a book of them, which I love and treasure.  

Grandma has the heart of a teacher; she loves to share what she knows about life with those who will listen. She has three children, 13 grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren. She is still very sharp, loves to play games, and is always up for a game of chess. She has had an amazing and successful life. I am very happy to share with you just a few of the highlights of my Grandma Beatrice Jessen’s life. Even if we don’t make it onto the Smucker’s jar.

Maybe that is why you see folks on the jar at the age of 104. They have to hang in there to make the cut!