An Unimaginable Century – Live Long and Prosper

We had just returned from enjoying a morning at the neighborhood pool. The kids were demanding snacks. Somewhat distracted as I grabbed our pool bag, I yanked the car’s back hatch down. Whack! The corner of the hatch struck the side of my head.

I might be a bit of a klutz, but I can take comfort in the knowledge that I will likely live to be an old klutz. In theory, I have good genes, even if my spatial judgment is lacking. My grandpa is turning 100 years old this Monday and the family is coming from all corners to celebrate. Well, at least many of us are. My cousin’s daughter is expecting her first child any day now*, so she has a pass.

The birth of the newest edition means that my grandfather will still be alive at the birth of his first great-great grandchild. A few months from now, the newest edition will be given a string of vaccinations that weren’t even discovered the year my grandfather was born, let alone up for debate by the general public. Penicillin wouldn’t be discovered for another thirteen years. Just imagining coping with my sons’ double ear infections without something like Amoxicillin makes me shudder. While it may amaze me that five generations might be living under the same sun, perhaps it shouldn’t. As life expectancies increase, this could well become the norm.

The year my grandfather was born, Bell Labs introduced the technology make the first coast to coast telephone call possible. Today, you may well be reading this on the other side of the world seconds after I click a publish button. The year my grandfather was born, movies like Interstellar could not have even been dreamed up as Einstein didn’t formulate his theory on relativity until November. Forget manipulating time and space via a space ship and artificial wormholes, there were so few cars at the time, stop signs weren’t needed on the streets of Detroit until that December.

Even if someone did dream up a flying ship (fueled by magic as liquid fueled rockets weren’t invented until 1926), many of the movie’s plot details would be missing. It would be unlikely that the mission’s astronauts would send or receive family messages as short wave radio wasn’t invented until 1919. Nor would they have droid assistance. The first robot didn’t appear until 1921.

‘Wormhole’ – Image by W.H. de Vries courtesy of Flickr

My dad begged and pleaded with those of us coming to the party to share our stories of grandpa. In addition to being clumsy, I am a terrible driver, and my Grandpa is partially to blame. A survivor of the Great Depression, Grandpa is not one who wastes. When I was learning to drive, he pointed out that braking was wasting gas. The adult me recognizes that what he meant was that I should remove my foot from the accelerator well before the light turns red. The teenager heard “drive hard, don’t brake until you have to, and when you have to – brake fast!” It’s a habit I am still trying to break (all the more reason I strongly support telecommuting – another thing not imaginable one hundred years ago).

I’ve been told by Grandpa on more than one occasion that I look very much like his sister, especially after he has told me something in Croatian. I don’t speak a word of Croatian, but the strong resemblance makes him think I should. I wish I did, but I just have never had a knack for languages. I have a hard enough time with English. But still he tries again with each visit. And I smile. And I say we’ll see you again soon. And I mean it. He’s lived 100 years, why couldn’t he be around for another 100? More unimaginable things have happened.

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*The newest edition to the family was born on 5/29/15