The first of December I celebrated my Godfather’s 100th Birthday. It was more than just a party they actually made it more of an event.
We learned we laughed, we shared. Oh, yea and we waited. Waited for everyone to get there which were mostly older people. At 100 years old you can imagine your friends aren’t in their 20’s. Once we all sat down and collected ourselves after the hellos. Our family and guest called for a toast and a prayer. We all sat in silence as he announced he didn’t know what he was doing and nervously gave his disclaimer. We laughed and watched him continue. Once he was done our very own centenarian was ready to speak.
However, his voice was still in clear and understandable condition. I’ve never met anyone that old so I didn’t know what to expect of his health. To my surprise, he seemed to be in great shape. Except for the fact that he was in no hurry to get anywhere.
He began to speak and that is when I realized what we were all in for. My eyes opened wide and I was a little child at story time. This was not just a party it was an event. We were in the presence of someone who had lived much longer than anyone of us. Longer than anyone we’ve known and his words were gold.
His accomplishments were succeeded by his ability to tell the story with so much excitement, precise detail, and without any hesitation.
He told us about his childhood, his teenage years, and his days in school. He told us about his decision to teach children and all the choices he made along the way. My Godfather-like my father is from Haiti, he loved helping those in need and made living teaching kids as a sports instructor. He later went on to assist with the red cross in many travels across the world. This is when the international federation of Red Cross would later request his help for a mission in Africa. He was a successful mediator, use of a human border in the conflict between Niger and Benin.
It was more than just a story, it was an example of how someone lived their life of 100 years. He was in better shape than most people half his age and he only seems to be concerned with what actually matters. I’ve always thought I had nothing in common with him and I felt distant because he was so much older than me but in all actuality, I look up to him. He’s so carefree, he’s accomplished what he set out to do and is still so put together in his mind, sharp, witty, he’s still laughing and has truly lived a remarkable life.
I was in a trance watching him make jokes and describe the events with such detail which to me seemed to be an impossible task. I would expect someone his age to have forgotten so much, clearly, my opinion on living to 100 was off.
For a long time, I feared old age but this changed my perspective, I learned life is a story and you create the details of that story every day with every choice you make. If you are lucky you will live to tell the story you have created, an opportunity most of us don’t always get. We spend so much time focusing on things that don’t actually matter to us we become ashamed to tell our own stories and that may be the worst thing to experience if we live to be 100. Being there in his presence made me reconsider what actually mattered to me and how if I was in his position would I tell my story. A question I had never thought of until that day.
My perspective on life and what we do with it has changed. From now on I want to live my life. If I’m lucky enough to see 100; I can tell my story to those that want to listen. Listen with the same level of excitement as we did.