in honor of centenarians

Birthday.

“Another year closer to death!” some comically cruel cards remind the recipient.

A way to mark the passing of time.

An excuse to gather with friends, family, and loved ones; take time for a nice meal or hike or visit to the spa; be kind to oneself; be kind to others.

A Jehovah’s witness would take no notice at all. An American president receives a card electronically signed by millions of his nation’s residents.

There may be cake or ice cream or both, as has become custom for kids and the kid-at-heart population here in the States and in many countries worldwide.

A childhood neighbor of ours, who was of Russian descent, once told me about a special bottle of vodka he was expecting in honor of his birthday.

I suspect being born on February 29th would pose a bit of a challenge.

In Vietnam, everyone’s birth is celebrated on New Year’s Day, a day called Tet. Only newborns are given a celebration on the actual day of their birth.

My grandfather would have turned 100 today. I mentioned his birthday a few weeks ago, ironically enough in a post that was published on my grandmother’s birthday.

Had he been alive, we might have sent in his name to The Today Show on which centenarians are given a birthday greeting by the rapidly aging Willard Scott.

If he was a British resident upon his centenary, he would have received a customized message from Her Majesty, the Queen.

I occasionally wonder what he would have made of this world in which we live, now. In the past three and half decades since his passing, nothing of the world he knew at the time of his death has remained. His family has migrated to distant lands, the country of his birth is, in some ways, unrecognizable (although the village of his birth, seen below, looks remarkably untouched — save the motorcycles casually parked along the side), and from I have been told about his demeanor, he might have had a difficult time understanding a society in which celebrity haircuts are front page news while wartime chicanery with fatal consequences is buried deep within the fold. And what explanation would he offer in making sense of a nation with more than a billion residents that is consistently among the lowest medal earners in the Olympic games; perhaps he might have said that he and his countrymen spent their time pondering other matters and would have elegantly evaded the question with a question of his own… clever bugger.

Birthday greetings, dear young man.

Perinkulam, Palghat

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3 Responses to in honor of centenarians

  1. Subhalakshmi says:

    My uncle was a bit sinister about his birthday, when we greeted him ” happy birthday ” he immediately replied ” ha nothing special except one year nearer to grave ” 🙂 where as to some it was so important that they visit the temple and a lot of fuss was made at home.. When it was your grandfather’s birthday, your grandmother made a sweet pudding for sure, to make the day special for all.. 🙂

    He would have taken the current world in his stride.. he would know he could not change anything around him but certainly done what you have pointed out… Good person certainly he was and would have loved to take you to his home town and explain the greatness and simplicity of the place.. 🙂 A very happy birthday to a man I have lot of respect.. one more thing, he was quite modern for his times.. 😉

  2. SidevieW says:

    I always wondered if in the UK, the queen’s mother got the 100 year old telegram from her daughter?

    Sometimes we need to step outside the commonplace to see what is real. As you say celebrity hairstyles! what is there to say, yet we are so tired of crookedness in the public sphere we can’t take it all in. people get tired of reading about that which they can not change

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