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Monday is my grandmother's 100th birthday. Sunday is the soiree of the century. Literally. Hundreds of people are invited. While it won't be Bilbo Baggins' eleventy-one party from the start of The Lord of the Rings, it will be plenty big enough.

I'm not privy to the preparations past that my Sunday will begin, persist and end around this celebration. My mother comes in tomorrow. Supposedly my brother as well. MKK and I have a date night tomorrow and we are not surrendering it for anything (as the babysitter flaked out on us last weekend for her birthday dinner).

Oh, and I get to work tomorrow to get a presentation on the state of long term care coverage in the United States completed by Wednesday.

And I have to figure out how to schedule the boys' 5K training runs around the Soiree of the Century, Cub Scouts (they're both in it now) and Pod #2's new sport, soccer.

Ah, but on to the topic du jour.

My grandmother was a premature baby, in an era when premies did NOT live very long. If I recall the math rightly, she was less than two pounds at birth.. small enough to rest atop a down pillow. I won't attest to precisely how early she was. Clearly she was capable of breathing.. how well I do not know.

She was not expected to live more than a couple of hours.

Then she was not expected to live more than a couple of days.

Then she was not expected to live more than a couple of weeks.


The assumption was sickly birth, sickly child. She caught the flu at age seven.

Do the math. This was the 1910s.

She got over it. Hundreds of thousands of people did not.

Consider what that era was like. Cars were trolley cars, for most people. Automobiles were the airplanes of the time, toys of the rich. Air travel was space travel. Indoor plumbing and electric lighting were just coming into the norm. Gas or steam heat was the norm.

There was no tweeting at work nor texting in the classroom. Sorry, kids of all ages.

My grandmother lived for close to 60 years before I was even born. It will be close to 2030 before I am at that point. We might even be close to launching a Mars Mission by then. But I digress.

Consider that immense block of time. 60 years. Some trees sprout and die in that time. Not oaks, perhaps some smaller maples. Definitely dogwoods.

It's over a half a century that I only know from movies, from history books, fictional accounts set in that era from everything from World War I and the Spanish Flu through the Tea Pot Dome Scandal and the Great Depression, World War II and the Cold War and the start of the Space Race. Prohibition, Women's Suffrage, Repeal, WPA, the New Deal, the invention of the suburb (and white flight), Desegregation, Civil Rights....after that I am part of the historical fabric.

So I marvel at all that my grandmother saw. And felt. And railed against. She is a fine extemporaneous ranter. She'd fit in here just fine were it not for arthritis and macular degeneration of both her eyes.

Ah, yes... that's the thing. For the past 20 years my grandmother has been effectively blind. She also has very, very slow-moving cancer. Oh, and she is prone to falls lately.

Two Thanksgivings ago, she was .... absent from her own skull. She looked not old but dead. We all thought - she is leaving us.

Then I had my own rather well-known disappearance into the healthcare system.

While not the very first think I asked, I asked MKK - Is Grandmother still alive?

She answered "Oh, yes - better than ever! It turned out she was reacting strangely to her medication. They put her on something else and she is as sharp (and quarrelsome) as ever!"

I don't see my Grandmother often enough. She has been a force of nature. No challenge to her longevity has ever overcome her, not from Day Zero of her existence.

My mother says she might well live to 110.

This is my 70+ year old mother without one gray hair on her blonde head, who might well live as long (though she protests she does not wish to do so). We'll see.

60 years. My father died a week before his 60th birthday. That was 15 years ago. So the number 60 means a lot to me that way as well.

He did not live to meet MKK. She was coming within the month just for the introduction that never was to be. He never saw his grandchildren.

My Grandmother, though - she knows them both. Two of her great-grandchildren... the oldest of which headed off for college this year. (The boys will be a while yet, thank goodness. Need to clear up some equity on the home to cover the loan for that, else send them the armed forces.)

She cannot see, but she watches television all the time. She grew up at a time when racism was an easy tool, as routinely exercised in defense of status and identity as someone might turn an eggbeater or place some milk in an icebox. To her credit, she tried to fight it down near us when young.. though the facade broke down.

Then, somewhere along the way... something changed.

The Republicans made it easy for her. Their outrageous accusations against Democrats in general rankled her. After all, she was Solid South!

Later on, much later on... she heard even more outrageousness against a young senator from Illinois running for President.

I prudently chose not to broach the topic of politics in her presence in 2008. I figured her displeasure with Republicans would take the day over 90+ of enculturation but I did not want to jinx it. After all, North Carolina was a battleground state.

So imagine my shock, my delight and my joy when she said "I think that young man will make a fine president - much better than that idiot McCain. What WAS he thinking picking that floozy from Alaska?"

I can't wait to hear what Grandmother has to say about Sarah Palin this coming Sunday, now that the former governor is, shall one say, a topic of juicy gossip yet again.

Happy Birthday, Grandmother. I could write for as long as you have lived in the attempt to get this right but for now let me say, I love you. And I am very glad we both came back to the living about the same time last year. Happy birthday, and as many more as you care to share with us.

And now for the Top Comments!

from Its the Supreme Court Stupid, good advice to all:

In this thread in Blue Aardvark's 4 Bannings Diary, TomP hits the nail precisely on the head on what is a important:

Regardless, we all need to get together (whether we like each other or not) to fight Perry and support the President's re-election and Dems in the house and senate (Warren, Nelson is on his own).

Election season is coming and we need to bury hatchets, and not in each others.

I know not all see it that way, but I will unify with those who do.

From Dragon5616:

In jotter's High Impact Posts today, blue aardvark offered this wonderful simile, which broke me up.

From JanF

smileycreek, after missing where she was supposed to weigh in on the new J Town Norms, shared a story about a college exam she once took.

From figbash, on the topic of cultural memory and media disruption of that valuable source of strength.

Brilliant analysis. May be the best on this subject that I've read on Daily Kos.

From me

Luthien Tinuviel. I'd rec something just for the Middle Earth handle but this really does sum up the true nature of Republidelphia for all mankind

Once you're out of the womb, Pubs don't care about protecting you.

From the mighty Eclectablog's posting on Republicans think protecting children from lead poisoning is job killing.

I swear, they're out to kill everyone including their own kids. If it was just themselves I would probably not mind but they want to kill my children, too, so I kind of have a problem with them.

... moving right along....

We're not supposed to rec diaries but I am quite sure any comment I pick from gchaucer2's confessional, for lack of a better term is a transparent ploy....

... except there are lot of great comments, some of them very wrenching.

vc2 reminds us that long after slavery was abolished a Congolese man was on display in the Bronx zoo in 1906.

The appropriate response is the WTF you just said out loud.

FogCityJohn on how racial stereotyping begins early and persists, echoing points made by the diarist about "the lizard brain". The multiracial world of today and old-style "black/white" thinking clash, and often.

blue aardvark with practical advice on how to get over it

... and from iTeachQ's diary, doc2 reminds us that super-destructive Republicans don't elect themselves into office.

Voters do that.

And with that we are on too....

The One True TOP MOJO

As of yesterday, of course. You've been told time and again so you know it by now, people. :)

  1) oh kelley, what a beautiful diary.  Life is so by racheltracks — 99
  2) That reminds me of a promise to MB by KelleyRN2 — 96
  3) Once again, by Cali Scribe — 93
  4) A site design suggestion, weird as it may seem by Oke — 93
  5) thanks kelley by RiaD — 89
  6) I read just the first few paragraphs... by David Kroning II — 88
  7) Hylasbrook died? That's shocking to by slinkerwink — 86
  8) Jesus Has Updated Those Commands. by Gooserock — 84
  9) {{{Kelley}}} by triciawyse — 81
10) it's unamerican. by papa monzano — 77
11) In every age, it seems that there are a lot of by Zoltan — 74
12) How can it be that by pasadena beggar — 73
13) I don't have any details, I'm sorry. by KelleyRN2 — 72
14) The Anti-science Conversation by webranding — 69
15) Thank you, KellyRN2.   by Common Sense Mainer — 68
16) Love and condolences to her survivors by Dallasdoc — 67
17) Here I sit in Houston by Mosquito Pilot — 65
18) It's a truth by blue aardvark — 64
19) Good post, OPOL. by TomP — 63
20) He doesn't even mention Wall Street anymore by david mizner — 62
21) Goddamned churches didn't step up. by Bob Johnson — 62
22) It ain't going to happen, unfortunately.  n/t by Ray Pensador — 61
23) Geithner never should've been hired in first place by RFK Lives — 60
24) Obama can't run from this anymore.  The chorus by praenomen — 58
25) Once Carville starts sounding like a DFH.... by jds1978 — 58
26) Like an "In Memorium" by grannycarol — 57
27) I am currently involved in an email by triciawyse — 56
28) I don't believe they actually know very much about by One Pissed Off Liberal — 54
29) I Have To Admit I Am Slow by webranding — 54
30) Something better change soon.  Many economists by HoundDog — 54
31) Disruption had become the point around here by Dallasdoc — 54
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