When you only got a hundred years to live
~ John Ondrasik
|My Mother ~ 1945|
Whichever birthdate we choose, this is an occasion to celebrate. My family planned to do so, before "the virus" took over all of our lives. Now things seem frozen in place for an indeterminable time. Instead of being in New York with my mother on her centennial, I'm penned up at home in California. Before I can begin to wallow, I remind myself what Mom would probably say to me, if she could: "Stop feeling sorry for yourself." End of discussion.
My mother is in the comfortable twilight of dementia, and for her it's a livable place. There is no grief in her life; the people she loved in her younger years, all of whom are long dead, live again in her mind. She seems to be caught in a 1940s time warp. Those were very good years for her, what she would call her "heyday." I'm glad she settled mentally into that decade.
To think of the history my mother's lifetime has encompassed is breathtaking. Woodrow Wilson was in office when she was born, so she has lived through 18 presidents. She's also seen nine popes and five United States wars. She was a seven-year-old girl when Charles Lindbergh made the first trans-Atlantic flight. She lived her entire teenage years during the Great Depression, and had just come of age the year Pearl Harbor was attacked. My mother was alive at the dawn of radio, on through television, computers, the internet, and the smart phone. She's been in at least two dozen of the United States and fifteen foreign countries. But the historical fact of her life that captivates me most right now is that she was born near the end of the 1918-1920 "Spanish flu" pandemic.
The Spanish flu officially ended in December 1920, when my mother was eight-month-old infant. COVID-19 is my mother's second global pandemic. Today she is a petite and fragile woman in a wheelchair, once again unaware of the plague that is passing through the world.
Once in a hundred years, you might find someone as remarkably strong, enduring, and inspiring as my mother. But don't bet on it. Happy 100th birthday, Mom. Thanks for teaching me how to survive any hardship life throws my way. That lesson is coming in handy these days.