Yesterday was Grandma Peg's 97th birthday. I remember her 80th and I am pretty sure that's how she'll be in my mind forever. A little more hair, a little less age in her voice, baking at will and loving her family. Last night, Gram and I chatted on the phone for a bit about the weather, baseball, candy and voting. That got me thinking about how much this world has changed in 97 years. In Gram's frozen memory (the age you like to remember yourself as being!) Babe Ruth was the slugger, trains were a common mode of transportation and there was no television. Last week I flew to Dallas and watched the Texas Rangers in the World Series in color and high-definition. That's pretty cool!
Everything has changed for Gram. I have to say, when you think about all that her generation has been through, the trouble and triumphs, struggles and celebrations, Gram is remarkably well adjusted. I think I understand why some old people are perceived as being crotchety. I would be too if the world I was the most comfortable living in changed before my eyes and many of the things I loved most in life were gone. As for the lack of verbal filtration that many of Gram's generation suffer, well, in my best, albeit uneducated, opinion, the affliction is one of choice. They've earned the right to say what they want to say.
Here are a few great things about being 97:
1. Junk food whenever you want it. Eat it for breakfast if you feel like it. It obviously will not impair your longevity.
2. The two things you can always talk about are the weather and baseball. Neither change from year to year, decade to decade, and generation to generation.
3. Being called a cougar because your male companion is 12-ish years your junior. And he's 85. That's just AWESOME!
4. Watching your family grow from 4 boys and a husband to 14 grandkids, 20 someodd great-grandchildren and a handful of great-great-grandchildren too.
5. Did I mention chocolates for breakfast?
6. Using a walker with a basket for carrying the extra things that won't fit in your hands. And you can turn the walker around and have a seat whenever you want. I am 34 and there have been some days where that would have come in REALLY handy!
7. Being able to say what you want, when you want, to whom you want. At 97, you've earned the right. And can use age as an excuse even tough this spring chicken is pretty sure it's not age but rather a right of passage.
8. Hindsight. At 97 you still have it, and you will probably still have a few regrets. But with all those years under your belt, you've more than likely had the opportunity to drop a mulligan (that's golf-speak for a do-over) and try out the alternative. Maybe it isn't 20/20.
9. A quiet mind. With people around to take care of you and a family who loves you, I would think the worries of life would be somewhat over. Sure there will still be some stresses, but not like those of us mid-years folks. You can sit in silence and conjure up a thought of the olden days, or when you remember when, or even perhaps just reflect on your life well-spent.
10. Not only do you get chocolates for breakfast if you want, but you can tell the dentist to stick it if you so choose! At 97, if you lose a couple teeth to cavities, WHO CARES? That's what chocolate malts are for.
So, with that, I wish Gram a very happy 97 th birthday. Maybe getting old isn't so bad after all.