My father turns 90 today. Yesterday, we had a big party. Dad’s family gathered from around the country. His baby sister was there (who just turned 81), as well as his 3 children, grandchildren, other family members, and friends. We told stories, laughed, and did a bit of crying too. Dad was diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies about 4 years ago. He can barely help with his transfers now. More importantly, his cognitive ability, as well as short-term memory and orientation to time and place, has declined dramatically. His speech is often very disorganized and he hallucinates frequently. But Dad had a great time at the party, cracking jokes, bantering with the guests, and loving his birthday cake.
He is generally a happy guy. His wife, 20 years his junior, devotes herself to his well-being. It’s taking a big toll on her health and emotional well-being, but there’s nothing else she would consider doing.
Fifteen years ago we celebrated his 75th birthday. There were more of his friends there then. I remember thinking, “Celebrations just don’t get any more memorable than this. What a positive statement for someone probably entering the final stage of life.”
Five years later we had an even bigger party for his 80th birthday. I’m sure it never occurred to any of us then that we would be one day celebrating his 90th.
For a male born in the US in 1920, life expectancy was 54 years. The life expectancy for his grandsons, born in the 1990s, was 74 years. The senior home care clients of Family Resource Home Care tend to be in their 80s and 90s. In 2007, Hallmark sold 85,000 “Happy 100th Birthday” cards.
A 90th birthday. Celebrations just don’t get any more memorable than that, do they?