Centenarian.

The title of this blog post was very nearly “Centurion” or “Centaur.” Thanks to Google for correctly answering my question, “What do you call someone who has lived 100 years?”

My grandfather is a centenarian, as of Saturday. My parents, sisters and brother-in-law packed their bags, escaped this storm and flew down to 80 degree southern Florida to ring in my grandfather’s 100th birthday. I wanted very badly to be there. When they were booking the trip over Thanksgiving, which was quite comical and included a lot of questions about whose credit card to use and who pees a lot and needs an aisle seat, I was feeling rather lousy myself. I was nine weeks pregnant and afraid to leave the house, much less get on a plane to Florida. So I opted out and I very much felt my own absence there this weekend. I feel great now, but I could not have known that then. In due time, I’ll get down there again.

And I remember the last time I saw him. Almost a year ago:

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His eyes filled with tears as we got into the car on our way to the airport. I always wondered what he was thinking. It was probably a mixture of sadness and happiness. He had met his great-granddaughter, but he must have thought about when or how or if he’d ever see her again. I imagine that’s what life is like when you’re 99. Moment by moment, really. Can you look forward to upcoming books and movies? Weddings and babies? I imagine some can. I like to imagine he can.

And I remember the last time I spoke to him. Only a day ago.

And he sounded alert and happy. Said, “I love you.” Made jokes about seeing Scarlet off to college. Hey, in a perfect world. In a perfect world…

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He’s looking at her. She looks like he did at her age. Cassidy even ventures to say that he is her biggest gene contributor. If I look at baby pictures of him and my mom, I can totally agree. She is a mixed bag for sure. Cannot freakin’ wait to see what Baby #2 looks like.

I look at these photos and get teary-eyed. I miss him. I miss her as a one and a half year old. Gosh. She’s only two and a half now! I just miss her babyness. It fades away every day. And then I remember. She’s two and a half. Some people have thirteen-year-old daughters. This is the price of creating life. You can have eight of them just to keep filling the voids of watching your babies slip away into kids and teens and adults. And you know what? All eight of them will do that in a blink of an eye, some say. We will not be having eight kids to fill any voids.

My grandfather is 100-years-old. He saw his babies go past one, into two, into teens, into adults, into their 60’s. And he finds reasons to get up every morning. What has he seen in his 100 years?

What will my kids see in their lives? The longevity gene is obviously in our family. I hope they use it so well.

Goshdarnit, get me a plane ticket and get me out of this snow and into the 80 degrees. Get my baby, yes she’s still my baby, into his arms. Get me to June and my second baby and get my grandfather to see 120 years and get my kids to have lasting memories of him.

Hey, anything can happen. Happy 100.

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7 Comments

  1. Here in Atlanta we have been thinking of you guys all the time. Imagine waking up and thinking, "I have been here for 100 years!" All the best to all of you. Love.

  2. Happy birthday to your grandfather! Although I'm not a mother, I've always thought about that with children. People always say, we're having a baby, and I want to remind them, actually you're having a person! How beautiful and wonderful and complicated that is.

  3. Hi Tamara, I work with the X PRIZE Foundation and was hoping to send you an email. Is there an email address where I can reach you offline?Thank you!Tracy

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