Tuesday, August 16, 2022

A centenarian in the family

A few weeks ago, my aunt Dorothy celebrated her 100th birthday. We had a party for her at her assisted living center in Temple, Texas. Those who couldn't attend in person were able to send her virtual well-wishes via a Zoom call.

Dorothy and my mother

Living to be 100 is a very rare accomplishment; according to the US Census Bureau only one out of every 3,390 Americans is 100 years old or older. Considering the average life expectancy for a woman born in 1922 was 61 years, I'd say Dorothy has accomplished quite a feat!

Dorothy visits with far-flung relatives via a Zoom call

Dorothy was living by herself as recently as a few months ago, when her vision issues got to the point where she could no longer live independently and had to be moved to an assisted living center. It was a difficult transition for her; she had lived in her own house in Temple for over 45 years. But she's well cared-for in her new place, and her friends and neighbors continue to come by to check up on her. 

Friends, neighbors and relatives attend her 100th birthday party

In 1922, the year Dorothy was born, Warren G. Harding was President of the United States, Pius XI became Pope, and King George V reigned over the vast British Empire. A first class postage stamp cost two cents. A gallon of gas was 11 cents. 

Even though the Roaring Twenties were underway, my grandparents - Dorothy’s mom and dad - wouldn’t have been able to legally celebrate their eldest daughter's birth with a glass of champagne. Prohibition was the law of the land. 

100 candles would have taken too long to light (and could have set off the fire alarm), so we just went with numeric candles

Other things turning 100 in 2022: Time Magazine, Reader’s Digest, and the British Broadcasting Corporation. The blender in your kitchen and the radial arm saw in your workshop were both patented in 1922. State Farm and USAA insurance companies were both established that year. 

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC was completed in 1922, as was Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California and the original Yankee Stadium in New York City. 

The radio was cutting-edge technology in 1922. President Harding installed the While House’s first radio that year and gave the first live presidential speech over the radio.

The Ottoman Empire was replaced by modern-day Turkey in 1922, and the Soviet Union was established. 

Famous people born in 1922 include comic book creator Stan Lee, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, authors Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and Jack Kerouac, actors Sir Christopher Lee and Jason Robards, fashion designer Pierre Cardin, and actresses Judy Garland, Ava Gardner, Doris Day, and Golden Girls Bea Arthur and Betty White (who unfortunately left is us last New Year’s Eve).

I prepared a speech for the occasion, which Dorothy (mostly) appreciated 

Dorothy has done a lot of interesting things during her 100 years on this planet: she's been a nun, a nurse, a teacher, a principal, a records administrator, and (of course) an aunt! She was very happy to spend her 100th birthday surrounded by her loved ones.

The longest-lived human lived to be 122 years old. Although Dorothy's otherwise pretty healthy, she has no intention of breaking that record!

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