O'FALLON, Mo. — Sometimes, the best birthday parties have a wrinkle or two.
That was certainly the case at the Garden Villas of O'Fallon, a retirement community in O'Fallon, Missouri.
It wasn't the music or dancing that made this celebration special. It wasn't even the birthday cake.
What made this party special was the birthday girl.
If every day is a gift, then Irene Fee now has 38,325 gifts.
Because she's celebrating her 105th birthday.
"I'm enjoying immensely and it's been going on all day," she said enthusiastically.
She was born in 1918 and one of her earliest memories is going to church in a horse and buggy.
"We lived about four miles from town and my mother drove the horse and we went to church," she recalled.
Her first car? She said it was a Ford Model T, generally regarded as the first affordable automobile in the country.
"Gasoline, when we got married in '38 was 25 cents a gallon," she said, laughing.
Instead of things, Irene has collected moments.
She's traveled all over the country and the world. Including places like Australia, Japan and her favorite, the Middle East.
"You feel the antiquity and the age of things," she said. "And people are dressed, they're like you would expect in biblical times."
But while she's grateful for the past, Irene prefers looking forward.
"She's interested in so many different things that she's just always looking for something new," said her son Richard Fee.
Every morning she checks the news on her computer.
"She likes to keep up with the stock market," said her friend, Bridget Martels. "She told us once when we were on our way to lunch, when she noticed the sign at the gas station, 'my goodness, crude oil is up.'"
Then there's painting, embroidery and genealogy. Irene has spent hours digging up the roots of her family tree.
"I've been able to take one of my lines back to 1540 in Dublin, Ireland," Irene said.
It's been two decades since she lost her husband of 67 years and while grief may slow a person down, Irene believes you cannot stop. And that may be her secret to a long life.
"I think you got to keep your mind and your body active in order to, you can't sit around," she said.
So, Happy Birthday to Irene Fee.
Showing us all that even at 105, you never have to act your age.
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