The Worth of a Century

Today is a big day.  Not for me, but a big day nonetheless: my great grandmother turns the big one-zero-zero today!  One hundred years old, can you even imagine?

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Christmas 2013. Sadly, we live too far away to be with her today.

Thinking about that–being alive for one hundred years–all the things she’s seen and experienced, gets you thinking about all the things that you’ve not only seen and experienced, but will see and experience over the course of the remainder of my life.

My great grandmother was thirteen when the stock market crashed in 1929, a student in middle school.  The attack on Pearl Harbor happened two days before her twenty-sixth birthday–while she was pregnant with my grandmother.  What was she doing when she heard that the war had ended?  What did she think of Martin Luther King’s speech when she first heard it?  Where was she when she saw footage of the first man on the moon?  What feelings surged through her when the Berlin Wall came down?

Are those even things that she thinks about anymore?

Or do her thoughts sift through other things?

I mean, if I was one hundred years old, living in a bed in a nursing home, what would I be thinking about?

The happy memories? The day my husband proposed to me?  Our first kiss as husband and wife? Christmas mornings when my children were young? Christmas mornings when I was young? The first time I heard my first baby laugh?  How happy my second daughter was when, after months of mauling the poor thing, the cat hopped into her lap as she sat on the couch?  My third daughter’s smile when she rode the Dumbo ride at Disneyland?  The moment when I found out our fourth child was a boy?

The painful memories?  The things I regret?  My moments of triumph?

I assume all, actually.

But I’m pretty sure I won’t be bragging about being alive when 9/11 happened. Or recounting my first experience with Facebook.  Or where I was when…well, whatever the next huge step is in regards to advancing as a civilization.

I’ll be thinking about my family and my choices.  That time I yelled at my child when I shouldn’t have. That time I made a huge sacrifice for someone else and it turned out to be completely worth it. That first decision that started the chain reaction that led to the worst mistake of my life. That moment of divine intervention that led me to the best joys of my life. That smile. Those tears. The words. The feelings.

Which has me thinking about what’s truly important today.  Of everything that’s going on this week, this month, next year…what will I be thinking about, expressing gratitude for, during the winding-up years of my life?

And is there anymore that I can do to make right now even better?

Because that’s what life is, even when you’ve had a hundred years on this planet–the total of your “right nows.”

That smile. Those tears. The words. The feelings.

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