Grandma's 100th birthday reminds
us that time is short -- but we all have today
December 18, 2007 | I recently took a trip to Florida
to visit my grandmother for her 100th birthday. While
it was great to be able to head south for a few days
and enjoy the sunshine and the warm weather, it was
kind of unfortunate that it was the weekend right before
finals week. I was really excited to be able to go down
and visit her, but the obnoxious side of me couldn't
help but think, "If she had only been born one week
later, I could have avoided having to study and do homework
while I was there. . . ."
That thought aside, it was great to see all of my
family at the same time. My parents are temporarily
in Cleveland, and it's hard to get out to visit them.
My brother, Chris, and his wife, Margaret, are up in
Idaho, and my sister is in Park City. While we're all
in closer proximity to each other, it's still sometimes
a challenge to make it to see each other -- especially
in my case, since I don't have a car.
It was also the first time that all of us had been
together as a family at all. My father took Chris and
Margaret down before they were married so Margaret could
meet my grandmother, but my grandmother did not make
it out for the wedding two and a half years ago. She
is to the point where she no longer likes to travel,
even though it was one of her favorite things to do
when she was younger. She's never been too fond of planes,
and anything else would be even more taxing on her physically.
So it was the first time that all of us were together
after the wedding. To add to the excitement, Chris and
Margaret announced that in another seven months, grandma
would be a great-grandma.
Her birthday party was wonderful. People that have
known my grandmother for longer than my parents have
been alive came for it, and for hours everyone was telling
stories, laughing and remembering.
It's incredible to think about all of the things my
grandmother has witnessed and experienced. Hearing about
the Great Depression from someone who experienced it
is a stark contrast to my life, so packed with stuff
I don't need and money enough to spend frivolously.
I couldn't help but think of the half-gallon of milk
going sour in my fridge back in Utah.
I think the most sobering thought about the whole
experience, though, was that even though my grandma
is currently doing incredibly well for someone her age,
she is still 100 years old now. While it was wonderful
to celebrate this milestone in her life with her, at
the same time, it was depressing to think that, as I
walked out the door and to the rental car, it may be
the last time I'll ever see her.
It's something that I've thought while leaving my
grandmother's house every time for the last ten years,
and so far, every time I have seen her again. But I
don't know when the next time I'll be able to make it
down to Florida will be, and there is no way she will
be coming out to Idaho ever again. She may still be
capable of taking her dog for a walk and taking out
her trash, but she certainly wouldn't want to sit on
a plane for hours and put up with the cold in Idaho.
She hasn't been out to visit us in the Northland for
years because she hates the cold. December in Kissimmee
tops 80 degrees, and even though it gets that warm in
Idaho over the summer, she still doesn't like the idea
of traveling that far.
There is, of course, always the possibility that she
will live even another decade. She is certainly looking
like she might, but realistically, there's no telling
how much time my grandma has left. So all I can do is
hope and pray as I walk out her door that it won't be
the last time I see her face. It's just so hard leaving
when I know that I might not ever see her again.
Despite my worry -- and everyone else's in my family
-- my grandmother seems to be intent on enjoying the
rest of her life, however long or short that might be.
She told me that it does not matter how old she is,
she still has today, and no one else in the world has
more than that.