Today, my mother would have been 100 years old. I’m celebrating. She left this earth eight years ago, but she hasn’t left me. I spent the last three years of her life being her full-time caregiver and now, I’m back to being her full-time daughter. I feel the length and depth of our relationship. I see it as a whole or I can zoom in at any facet–when I was four and she adopted me, when I was fourteen with a splash of zits across my forehead, when I was 30 and a mother of three. Mother was there–for every stage. She still is.
I decided to take a quick glance at the year mother was born to see what it was like back then.
I decided to compare 1911 to 2011. Here are a few stats.
- First use of aircraft as offensive weapon occurs in Turkish-Italian War. Italy defeats Turks and annexes Libya
- Chinese Republic proclaimed after revolution overthrows Manchu dynasty. Sun Yat-sen named president
- Mexican Revolution: Porfirio Diaz, president since 1877, replaced by Francisco Madero
- Roald Amundsen becomes first man to reach South Pole
- U.S. explorer Hiram Bingham discovers Incan city of Machu Picchu.
Marie Curie (France) receives the Nobel Prize for discovery of elements radium and polonium
- Chevrolet was founded in France
Ronald Reagan and Lucille Ball were born in 1911
First class stamp: .02 cents
Child labor at its height in U.S.
I notice the beginning of the car-craze we grapple with still, today, Only now we’re focused on oil and how to fuel our four-wheeled allies. How much it costs, who has it, who needs it. It’s a pawn. It influences governments, commerce, and is a huge player in war. I also noticed Libya in the news–way back then–and again, in 2011.
Other similarities: more amazing inventions and discoveries include:
- A 9.0 earthquake rocks Japan followed by a nuclear reactor scare of radiation contamination hundreds of miles in diameter.
- Egyptian citizens take to the streets demanding and later receiving governmental changes.
- Lybia breaks out in civil unrest as do other Middle East countries.
- Gas prices continue to soar after last year’s major oil catastrophe in the Gulf of the U.S and due to escalating problems in the Middle East and a growing demand for the product.
- Unmanned aircraft by DARPA is capable of staying in the air for up to five years
- Virgin birth of a shark–second occurence we’re aware of (not kidding, folks, here’s the link)
- Travolution system (by Audi) that allows its cars to exchange information with traffic lights
- Gene that leads to longer shelf-life in fruits and veggies (Why include this? Think globalization and how we keep tampering with our food)
- Omniderm–a substitute for human skin has been invented (and patented) by Israeli researchers, also artificial corneas created by U.S. doctors that could potentially restore sight to the blind
- CERN successfully completes tests on the world’s first particle collider ( a potential form of energy)
- Child labor is outlawed in major countries, but human trafficking (including children) remains a serious concern
- Stamps now cost 44 cents
It’s obvious. The world has changed. The world is changing. And yet, I notice how certain concerns circle back around.
In some ways, I’m sad that mother’s not here to blow out her own 100 candles. But realistically, no. I’m relieved she’s passed on and is a part of this great universe.
Why? At 92 my mother has Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. The last eight years wouldn’t have been pretty. Or satisfying. As a caregiver, I would have been way beyond burnout. Financially, her money would have been way gone, and money equals care in our country. I have no idea how I would have met her physical needs, much less her emotional needs. I don’t think, knowing where she was headed, that she would have been much more than incoherent and bedridden. Sad to say. Heartbreaking, actually.
Now, I do know of centenarians who spent their big century b’day by skydiving. That’s simply amazing.
But I’ve made peace with the realities of caregiving. That wouldn’t have been my mother’s outcome. She left this world with only the last year or two being rather rough. Not bad, to live 92 years and only the last two being less than desirable. Still, we enjoyed some good times those last few moments of her life. We played the piano, held hands, I let her eat anything she wanted–mostly Klondike bars. We looked at old photographs. I brushed her hair. She left this world on a gentle June evening with a breeze lifting a lace curtain overhead and me, by her side.
Happy Birthday, Mama.
What have you been up to these past eight years? Riding a comet? Are you sitting on a lawn chair enjoying some distant shore? Walking hand-in-hand with the love of your life?
What’s it like–over there? Is there an –over there?
Wherever you are, know that you are here as well–with me.
You used to relish telling me what to do. And now, I listen.
All my love, your daughter–
~Carol D. O’Dell
Author of Mothering Mother, available on Kindle