His 97th Birthday

My grandfather turned 97 today. Ninety-seven years-old. I keep repeating that number. He was born during WWI and remembers when the fire engines were pulled by horses. We spent a few minutes talking about the 198,987 changes that the world has undergone since his birth. He is still very alert. He watches the news, reads the paper and interacts with almost everyone he comes in contact with.

I think that the two biggest changes from his 96th birthday is that physically he has slowed down a little bit more and of course this time Grandma wasn’t here to help celebrate. The first birthday without her in almost 80 years. He surprised me by not talking about her. Normally he would spend a few minutes talking about grandma and how much he misses her.

I didn’t take his silence to mean that anything has changed inside his head because that is inconceivable and not in a Princess Bride sort of way. I know that he talks to her all the time. Tonight my mom brought out a picture of Grandma from 1933. She was 19 and less than a year away from marrying grandpa. When he looked at her picture his eyes softened and I think that I might have seen a wistful smile pass across his face.

He used to tell me that I couldn’t see the girl he saw. He would say that I saw an old woman but that he saw the girl he fell in love with. Sometimes I would tease him and ask him what would happen when General Sherman called him back to active duty. He always laughed at that or maybe I should say that he always laughs at it. He is still very much here.

They celebrated 76-six years of marriage and even more birthdays  together. It was quite the run. I am happy and proud to have been around for the past 40 some years to share in the festivities. Just before I left I told him that since he has 23 years left he better get back on the treadmill. I said that if he thinks that 97 is tough just wait until he hits 110.

He laughed and so did his eyes. That made me happy because the laughter in his eyes proved that he was truly happy. Seemed to me like he had a pretty good birthday and at 97 he deserves it.

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