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100 balloons help mark her 100th grandkid
Helen Young and some of her 100 balloons. - photo by Photo Contributed
Helen Young is not just a grand but a great-great lady a hundred times over.

Translation in numeric terms: Young is a grandmother 24 times over, a great-grandmother 57 times, and a great-great-grandmother 19 times over.

That multi-generation of family members total 100. A lot of people, including members of her large clan, are calling this milestone in her charmed life a miracle considering Young was born an only child. And statistically speaking, that’s one grandchild – plus an extra two – for each of her 98 years.

Soon, sometime in the summer of 2011, the 100 will turn to 101.

“The 101st is already on the way and is due in June next year,” Young’s daughter, Carole Delmanowski, happily announced.

 “The great-greats are coming like every one or two months now,” she added cheerfully.

To mark the birth last week of the 100th grand baby in the family, 100 motley-colored balloons were delivered by Manteca Floral to the Delmanowskis’ house on Sutter Street. The beloved and treasured matriarch has been living with her daughter and son-in-law Joseph for nearly five years.

The 100 balloons were actually ordered by one of the 100 grandchildren – a term that the family uses, for convenience, when referring to all the three younger generations in the family. The balloons were actually from all of those younger generations. But it’s granddaughter, Leslie Crone who lives in Illinois, who “takes care” of the ordering, explained Delmanowski.

“The grandchildren send her a (floral) bouquet every month out here,” Delmanowski said.

But this month was something special because of the 100th grandbaby born into the family, so the 100 balloons were ordered to mark that milestone.

“The balloons were every color of the rainbow,” said Tamara Carillo of Manteca Floral who took care of the order.

She also made sure the local newspaper was contacted. “I thought it was a cute story,” Carillo explained.

It was also a delivery that was meant to surprise great-great-grandmother Young. But Delmanowski was in on the surprise because the floral shop contacted her early on. Carillo said they needed to make sure there would be enough space in the Delmanowski house for all 100 balloons.

“We put them in every room of the house,” said son-in-law Joseph with a laugh.

The surprise delivery was a success. “My driver said she (Young) was a little overwhelmed; she wasn’t sure what was going on,” said floral shop manager Carillo who was completely thrilled that the delivery was accomplished without a flaw.

“It was great!” said Young on Monday, still overwhelmed a few days after that red-letter day.

Remarkably alert, jovial and friendly, the nonagenarian Young who will turn 99 in July could be easily mistaken for someone in her 70s.

A bit of trivia for the Young family: the 100th baby (great-great-grandchild) is the granddaughter of Young’s first grandchild.

Young a 98-year-old graduate of Hospice of San Joaquin
A widow for the past 26 years – her husband passed away in Illinois where they lived at that time – Young is “a 98-year-old graduate of Hospice,” her daughter was proud to point out.

After suffering a mild stroke last year, Young was taken to Hospice of San Joaquin in Stockton. But she defied the odds and got well enough that they brought her home from Hospice.

“She was doing so well that Hospice graduated her,” a thankful Delmanowski said with a laugh.

She said her mother has a couple of health problems – macular degeneration and hardness of hearing – but she remains very mobile at home with the help of a wheelchair.

“She can no longer walk but she’s trying,” Delmanowski said.

Other than that, “Her mind is very sharp; she plays Jumble Words every day. There’s also a little game that she plays called Rush Hour. She has to rearrange cars to try to get away from the exit. She has reached the grand status on that. And she plays card games with me all the time,” Delmanowski said.

Four-generation family members scattered mainly in three states

Young was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois. She was an only child.

“My grandparents always wanted a large family but it just didn’t happen,” after her grandmother had a hysterectomy, said Delmanowski.

Growing up an only child, Young always dreamed of having a large family. That dream was realized after she got married and bore four daughters and two sons. The oldest daughter has passed away, as did one of her sons. Her other son, Carl, “her baby boy,” as Delmanowski referred to him, paid a surprise visit to his mother in Manteca on Friday.

His visit was just the second surprise that Young received last week.

“She doesn’t know he is coming. He’s coming from Illinois just to see her. She hasn’t seen him in four years,” said Delmanowski who is the second oldest among her siblings.

Her brother had been unable to visit his mother because his wife has dementia, Delmanowski said. However, last week his wife was in the hospital which freed him somewhat to come to California by train (because “he won’t fly”) to see their mother, if only for a day.

“It’s just a one-day trip but we’ll take what we can get,” said a thankful Delmanowski whose brother was calling her to get directions to her home while she was being interviewed on the telephone late last week.

All six of Young’s children were born in Springfield, Illinois, where most of the family members live. Members of the younger generations are spread out in three states – Colorado, California and Illinois. They had family living in North Dakota at one time, “but there’s no one there now,” said Delmanowski.

During her married life, Young was “mainly a homemaker, but she did work for Sears for eight years in Springfield when her children were grown,” said Delmanowski who is one of the family members living in California. She and her husband moved to Manteca in the early 1960s when Joe went to work at the former Libbey-Owens-Ford glass company in Lathrop, now Pilkington Glass. He was one of the “original 60” from Illinois who went to work at LOF when it opened in the then still unincorporated Lathrop.

Young an inspiration to family, and ‘a human magnet’
Delmanowski likes to point out that in the four years that her mother has lived with her, she has seen more people come to her home than in the four decades she has lived in Manteca.

“She’s a human magnet! Ever since she’s been out here, I’ve had more company than in the 40 years I’ve been here,” Delmanoski said laughing.

Many of those friends are fellow members of the Legion of Mary at St. Anthony of Padua Church to which she belongs.

All her life, Delmanowski said of her mother, “She was always involved in the church, a very devout lady.”

Young also has always been a people person, her daughter added.

“She has a very positive attitude. She’s not judgmental at all. I didn’t hear her say an unkind word about anybody,” Delmanowski said.

It’s those qualities that have endeared Young to the members of her large family. A recent letter from a great-grandson attest to the high regard and respect she enjoys even from the youngest in her family.

“We just got a letter from a great-grandson from Phoenix telling her that she was a great inspiration in his life. He said she always seems to be joyful and has such a positive outlook in life that she inspired him to always look at the good side of life,” Delmanowski said.