MUKWONAGO -- She raised five children and retired -- by her 20th birthday! Norma Quakkelaar on Saturday, Feb. 29 celebrated her birthday on its rightful day for just the 20th time, since she was born on Leap Day. At 80, Quakkelaar still brings some 20-year-old energy to her family.
The candles may have read 8-0, but this was Quakkelaar's 20th birthday celebration.
"(Turning 20 today) feels great," said Quakkelaar, of Waukesha. "It's the 80 that's a little shaky."
Surrounded by the family she helped create, Quakkelaar blew out the candles in Mukwonago Saturday, but the energy she brings to her family was far from extinguished.
"I remember her going toilet-papering with my brother in high school because he didn't do it well enough," said Douglas Quakkelaar, Norma's son.
Normally, when the year has just 365 days, Quakkelaar's celebration extends to two days.
"I was born the last day of February and the day after the 28th," said Quakkelaar, noting that she celebrates on the 28th and the 1st.
But every fourth year, the party featuring homemade recipes and memories reminds Quakkelaar and her family of their greatest gift.
"My mom has the most loving heart," said Douglas Quakkelaar. "She's enriched our family in so many ways."
"To have family that love each other, they care about each other, they're there to help us whenever we need help -- that's family," said Norma Quakkelaar.
Quakkelaar said she credits the family's collective faith in God for the fact that they're so close-knit.