WAUSEON - Meta Buehrer's family planned to light the 108 candles on her birthday cake last night. How she extinguished them was her problem.
Her grandchildren said they weren't about to help unless asked.
They learned that lesson several birthdays ago when Mrs. Buehrer wasn't knocking down the flames quickly enough, which, according to family lore, rose several "feet" high.
"All of us grandkids got on the other side," her grandson Brent Buehrer remembered. Most of the smoke went directly into Mrs. Buehrer's face. "We about fumigated Grandma."
Neither that birthday candle smoke nor the passing years appeared to do much harm to Mrs. Buehrer.
In November, she took a spur of the moment trip to Wisconsin with her daughters to celebrate a niece's 90th birthday.
In July and October, she vacationed with her daughters in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Throughout the last year, she made numerous trips to Shipshewana, Ind., where she enjoys watching the Amish farmers work.
"She never ages anymore," her grandson Scott Buehrer, 45, said. "She just sort of stays the same."
Her husband, Harry, died in 1950.
At 108, Mrs. Buehrer is one of the oldest people in the area. The oldest people in the world with documented birth records in recent years have often been only four to seven years older than she is now.
But Mrs. Buehrer said she did not want to get in the Guinness Book of World Records for her age. "I'd probably break the camera," she joked.
It's Mrs. Buehrer's sense of humor along with years of hard work and a diet of made-from-scratch food, much of it raised in her garden, that her family credits for her longevity.
Mrs. Buehrer eats fast-foods less than once a year and never drinks, smokes, nor appears to get overly excited about anything.
The best invention during her lifetime? The washing machine, she replied.
Last night's birthday party originally was set for a restaurant. But Mrs. Buehrer spent several days last week in Fulton County Health Center with symptoms of congestive heart failure.
Her doctor recommended against going out in the cold. Actually, he recommended against a party altogether, fearing she might catch a bug. Her family rejected his advice.
"This may be her last birthday and we're having a party," said Nola Buehrer, 76, the youngest of Mrs. Buehrer's three children. The others are Anna Buehrer, 80, and Huber Buehrer, 77.
So Mrs. Buehrer posed for pictures with her great-grandchildren and smiled at the hubbub of 30 relatives gathered in the Dover Township farmhouse she shares with her daughters.
"What's the difference between you and Grandma," Cynthia Smith asked her daughter, 8-year-old Lindsey.
"She's 100 years older than I am," replied Lindsey.
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