My mother turns 91 years old this week.
Thankfully, while she has slowed down a bit and has fought against some health challenges, she is still mobile and sharp and remains an impressive force in my life. But her birthday got me thinking.
In her 91 years, she has seen a great deal of history first hand. She lived through the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed it. She tells stories of the things her mother did to stretch the food budget – and some days the food itself – to feed their family of six.
She lived through World War II, when her two brothers – and most of the young men she knew, including my father – served in uniform. She remembers seeing blue and, sadly, yellow, service stars in the neighborhood windows, representing the loved ones who went to war. She remembers the war time rations, of things like nylons, and taught me how to wear them without getting runs, because she had had to learn back in the day.
She remembers the fight for Civil Rights and against segregation. She saw technological advances that no one could have dreamed of, from the introduction of television to seeing NASA land a man on the moon.
Unfortunately, she lived through more wars, assassinations of political leaders, more world strife. But she also saw the first female Supreme Court Justice appointed and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Through it all, she worked, had a loving marriage and three daughters and generally enjoyed life. Our house was always the gathering place, for my sisters’ friends and then mine. We hosted any number of family gatherings through the years and celebrated my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary with an open house one day and dinner party the next night. We celebrated her retirement and mourned with her when my father died.
As I said, she is still sharp, so I enjoy hearing her stories and memories. But most of all I am amazed by all that she has seen and done in her life. And I am grateful that I am a small part of it still, as time goes by.