Things About 104

The other day I got to visit somebody who will be 104 in a few days. 104 years old - in human years, even - and she's got a quick tongue and a sharp wit and sometimes gets those two things confused, which, at 104 is Exactly All Right.

She told me that perhaps it was time for me to consider a new profession because what I do and the means of doing it can be rough on a body. She's not wrong. At 104, you aren't often wrong. She wasn't quite feeling herself, a little disoriented, as so she was in the hospital. She told us that if anything she said made sense that somebody should take note of it. If you're 104 and aware that you might be saying things that don't make sense, I think you're probably doing pretty well.

She said that she never planned on being 104 and wasn't quite sure how it happened. It just flew by, she said, and the closer she got to 104, the faster it seemed to come. Here I stand at 40, thinking it took me positively forever of doing All the Wrong Things to get here, and she says that 2.6 times my years happened so fast she can't account for it.

She said that she wasn't sure why God wanted her to be 104. That she wasn't sure what she was supposed to be doing. As if taking some time to visit the Critical Care Unit at the local hospital wasn't preoccupying her, or even important in the slightest.

At 104, she has plenty of advice to give, and absolutely no reason to not give it. She recommended thinking hard about my future, and how I want it to be, which is something that I tend to avoid because it's Scary. She said that I can do whatever I want. At 104, I guess she would be an expert. Maybe she became an expert from doing things other than what she wanted, or maybe she always did exactly what she wanted. Either way, it's good advice, because I CAN do anything I want.

She thinks being 104 isn't a big deal. It's just something that happens. Granted, it happens to less than .02% of the population in the U.S., but still... I don't think I have ever belonged to a demographic so elite. Other than percentage of Homeschooled U.S. Residents with the Last Name Stecker and Multiple Pet Dachshunds, or something ridiculous like that. Actually, there's probably a lot of us like that, so never mind. 104 is special. It's rare. Although researchers say that by the year 2050, that percentage will have grown nearly tenfold, so in another three decades, our odds of making it to that age improve greatly.

In the meantime, my 104 year old friend is a long term anomaly in a world with a shrinking attention span. She's pragmatic and practical, still sporting a sense of humor and an analytical eye for success and efficiency. She was born in 1914. She's seen this country through a half dozen wars, technological progression, economic depression, recession, and cultural revolution. When she was born, most homes didn't have electricity. Now most INDIVIDUALS have hand held devices that connect them instantly with The Whole World. When she was born, automobiles had only been commercially available in the U.S. for six years. In 1914, planes had barely gotten off the ground. When she was born, white males were the only legal voters.

Compared to the changes that she has witnessed, our own societal and cultural changes seem to be crawling at a snail's pace. It's hard to imagine, but it's easy to understand the black and white worldview that more than a century has given her. Of course I can do anything I want. Look at the last 100 years. Anything is possible. Who knows? I might live to be 104, and I can only hope, still possess a quick tongue and a sharp wit - only occasionally confusing the two.

The view from a 104 year old's home. She's got it figured out. 

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