Yesterday, I had the fortune to run into a 96 year old gentleman at Walmart. His eyes were bright, and his mind sharp. It is always very inspiring to converse with the elderly, as they have so many stories to tell. He was shopping all by himself and had even driven himself there. I found this extraordinary. Here was a man 4 years shy of a century and he’s still functioning as well (perhaps better) as most 50 or 60 year olds I know.
He said he hopes to live to be 108. This struck me as odd, for it’s such a specific number. I wonder what significance 108 might have for this man. It could be a coincidence, of course, being just a number he picked out of a hat, but perhaps not. If this man was 96, then he was born in 1917 or 1918. My gracious the things he’s seen develop and what he’s experienced! Besides the obvious inventions such as computers, airplanes, and cell phones in this man’s lifetime, the Band-Aid was invented and insulin. It’s unbelievable the improvements made in photography, broadcasting, and radio since the 20th century began until the present, and thinking about watching it evolve from the beginning like this gentleman I met is mind-boggling. Yes, of course television and self-winding watches have been invented since the first of the 20th century, but also frozen food and spiral bound notebooks.
Digging even deeper, I found that penicillin was just discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928 and bubble gum was first produced that same year. The first canned beer was made in 1935, and come to find out that the ballpoint pen and strobe lights were invented in the same year in 1938. Who knew? I can’t imagine life myself before the microwave oven, which was just invented in 1946, or cake mix, which debuted in 1949.
The advancements in medicine also come to mind, as these develop rapidly. From the discovery of penicillin and the first oral contraceptives (1954) to 4D sonograms, laser eye surgery, and so many different microscopic surgeries and procedures being done now. Wow!
Visiting with this man was so inspiring, insightful, and helped me feel better about growing old. He is an amazing testament to growing old gracefully.