A Century and Change

In 1904, the Russo-Japanese War began. George Bernard Shaw’s Candida premiered, Ty Cobb made his professional baseball debut, the ice cream cone was invented, and the United States hosted its first Olympic Games. That year Dutch troops occupied Sumatra, the Trans-Siberian Railway was completed, construction began on Grand Central Station, Wilbur Wright made his first flight, the New York City Subway opened, St. Louis police began the practice of using fingerprints in criminal investigations, and Cy Young pitched a no-hitter.

Into that world, my great-grandmother, Bertina Renier, was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, one of a dozen siblings in a Catholic family of French Cajuns. Eventually she would marry, and two of her brothers-in-law would marry two of her sisters. Great-grandma Bertina and her husband Rene, who died at age 76 back in 1976, had three sons and two daughters, including my maternal grandfather, Russel Renier, who moved as a teenager to California, the rest of the family eventually following him. He is responsible for two of Bertina’s fourteen grandchildren. She lived to see 22 great-grandkids and one great-great grandchild.

She died today at 105, an age at which condolences are no longer necessary, because we should all be so lucky.

May she rest in peace.