Long-time Aldergrove resident Norman Aasen couldn’t have predicted all the familiar faces that greeted him for his 100th birthday party at the local legion on Saturday.
Organized by his son Jack and daughter-in-law Judy, the party turned into a family reunion with Aasen learning of all the new family members who came to greet him from cities across North America.
His sister Loretta helped out with gold and silver, gleaming decorations around the legion hall in Aldergrove.
“I’m meeting all of these people, most of whom I haven’t seen in years,” Aasen explained.
“I’ve had to look twice to recognize some,” he chuckled.
Several cousins, grandchildren and great grandchildren from his first wife Mae’s side of the family in Texas even made an appearance.
Mae and Norman were first married in 1940, for 34 years, and raised a family of two sons together before she died of a lengthy illness.
“He loved travelling, he always had a trailer or motorhome so he would spend one Christmas in Canada and the next Christmas he would go to Texas,” Judy said.
“For some of the grandchildren Norm is the only [living] grandparent they have.”
Other Aasens flew in from areas of Minnesota, California, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Ottawa. The rest live in the Lower Mainland.
Aasen’s second wife Florence, whom he married in 1976, welcomed four new children into his family.
The two were married for 31 years and took yearly trips to Minnesota and Saskachewan for to reunite with family.
His son Jack told relatives charming stories about his dad, while pointing to a detailed scrapbook and photo album he and his wife made.
Born in rural Saskatchewan, Aasen recalls hopping onto a boxcar as a teen and riding it to Sudbury, Ont. where he found work in a nickel mine.
Shortly after being beckoned home at 22 by his family of six in Sask., Aasen “got the call” that would enlist him in the Second World War against Germany.
His son accompanied Aasen to Holland five years ago for the 70th anniversary of the countries liberation, after he was awarded the Legion of Honour medal from his D-Day service helping free France from the stranglehold of fascism.
Every year Aasen dresses up in full regalia for the Aldergrove Legion’s Remembrance Day ceremonies.
Aasen admitted on Saturday that he doesn’t feel “nearly as old as 100.”
But seeing all of his family on Saturday, Aasen said – “I’m happy.”