99 and Counting . . .

My Grandfather on his 99th birthday.

Last Friday, I was able to accomplish another first in my life.  This first, however, wasn’t accomplished as a result of my effort, ingenuity, or courage.  Rather, my Grandfather did the hard work.  As a result, our family was able to wish him a Happy 99th Birthday. 

Before today I’ve never had the opportunity to wish anyone a happy 99th birthday.  The significance of the words hit me shortly after we hung up the phone with him.  He was born during World War I.  He knew life without television, computers, and mobile phones.  He served as an officer in the United States Navy during World War II.  He was married to my Grandmother for 66 years.  He worked as an engineer for Bell Labs.  He raised two children.  He oversaw the growth of four grandchildren.  And he has five great grandchildren, ages ranging from almost 17 to nearly three. 

Friday, we weren’t able to speak for long.  We rang at an inconvenient time.  But what struck me most about our conversation was my Grandfather’s consistency.  Ever since I became an adult, he showed an interest in me, my desires, and my life, even when it was his time, his day, his celebration.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.  He’s grown accustomed to the seeing the big picture and playing the long game.  Indeed, he’s contributed to the growth of technology.  He’s seen history made and repeated.  He knows that nothing is ever as bad as it seems (unless, of course, it is).  And he’s done so while celebrating life.  My Grandfather enjoys the simple pleasures of a good meal, a strong drink, an intriguing read, and the company of family and friends. 

Happy birthday, Grandfather. 

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