January 22, 2013

89 Years of Change

Dad and Mom in the 60s

My mom had her 89th birthday on Sunday. 89! That’s quite an accomplishment.

At the party, I asked her, “How do you get to be 89? Any secrets?”

“Wake up every morning,” she said.

What a hoot.

Can you imagine? In 1924, automobiles are just becoming common. The first performance of Rhapsody in Blue. Loeb and Leopold murder Bobby Franks in Chicago. George Mallory dies on Everest. This is the year of the first round-the-world flight by U.S. Army pilots John Harding and Erik Nelson. First Macy’s Day Parade.

People who died include Lenin, Franz Kafka, Calvin Coolidge, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Puccini. Also born that year are Earl Scruggs, Lee Marvin, Henry Mancini, Buddy Hackett, Joan Aiken, Daniel Inouye, Truman Capote, Jimmy Carter, William Rehnquist, and Rod Sterling.

Think of every person who has lived since 1924 and all their life stories and worlds of experience that have passed by in that 89 years!

We’ve gone from radio to television to digital internet entertainment, from telegraph to telephone to cell phone, from horse and buggy to automobile to commercial flight to the first private flight to the world’s International Space Station.

Socially, we are worlds different. In that time, we’ve gone from being about a 50/50 urban to rural population to 80 percent urban and 20 percent rural. Many groups who were previously unrecognized are achieving large measures of recognition and equality ~ minorities (who won’t always be the minority of the population), women, LGBT people, and others. I was struck, as everyone was, that President Obama yesterday refered to “Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall” all in the same sentence.

I can’t imagine where we’ll be when I’m 89. And when my kids are 89? Oh my gosh! We’ll have “augmentation” ~ computers installed in our bodies. We’ll all be connected with our bodies through that future iteration of today’s internet. We’ll have eradicated many diseases but others will crop up. Socially, where will we be? World’s away.

And as I’m an optimist, I think most of the changes will be for the better.

Happy birthday, Mom!

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