Lynn Hall column: Celebrating another year in a lifetime of change

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 10, 2019

Later this month, my dad will be turning 96. His mother lived to be 93 and since she was born in 1899, I thought she must have lived through the most amazing century ever. She was alive to witness the Wright brothers’ first flight all the way to space travel and a moon landing. How could we ever have more advancements in one lifetime than that?

Obviously, I was shortsighted. My dad has certainly seen some amazing advancements as well. I remember him telling us the story of growing up in west Texas and while he and a friend were out playing in the front yard of his home one day, a pilot flew overhead and then turned around to drop down lower to the ground in order to yell — “Which way to Lubbock?” The two boys pointed him on his way.

Now we have GPS systems on our phones, in our cars and even on our wrist that know exactly where we are and can direct us any where we’d like to go.

And about those phones … my grandparents — when they got a phone — were on a party line. Three sharp rings signaled the call was for them, but everyone else on the lines was certainly able to listen in. Now my 96-year-old father has an iPhone that will place and send calls, send and receive text, allow for Facetime calls, plot his drive to the grocery store, serve as a calculator, flashlight and game console and even play movies and television shows if he has that service. I’m not saying he uses any of those — he still thinks that beep when he gets a text message means he missed a call — but it’s there at his fingertips.

I don’t mind explaining all of these “new-fangled” devices to him because he’s a brilliant man, and being able to tell him how his phone (and occasionally his computer) work is a nice change of pace from all those years he was the one doing all the instructing. (I still cringe when he asks me something that involves math.)

Now that I’m well into my senior years, people tell me all the time that it must be reassuring to have a parent and grandparent who had and have had such long life-spans. It would be except that my father is in such better shape than I ever was or will be. He goes to the Y every day it’s open and does his hour-long workout. He’s the local “poster-child” for the importance of exercise and fitness at all ages. A few months ago, he got dehydrated and ended up in the hospital for a couple of days. People at the Y were calling the house non-stop wanting to know where he was. My sister and I live out of state from his home, but we know if anything happens, it will be reported immediately. If the “old guy” doesn’t show up at the Y by 2 or 2:15 every day, someone there will notice and send out an alert.

My sister and I both have tried our best to get Dad to move closer to one of us, but he still lives in the same house he and my mother purchased when they moved to Kentucky in the mid-1970s and he refuses to budge. It’s a big house and he uses very little of it, but it’s home and all of our incredibly valid arguments about why he needs to be close to us, have failed to change his mind. So, we take turns, traveling up … or in her case down … to check on him.

We’ll be doing that again in a week or so to celebrate another birthday. I occasionally complain about the five-hour trip and how boring the small town he lives in is, but I know without a doubt, when we don’t have to make that trip, I will be heartbroken.

Happy 96th, Dad.