Centenial

“This is Turk Mangan, and today I am interviewing my great-grandfather Abel Thompson, for Media Arts 101. Today my great-grandfather turns 100 years old.

Happy birthday, Grandpa. How are you feeling today?”

“I’m good. Happy to be here.”

“So, you know I’m recording this for my class and I have five questions to ask you.”

“Shoot.”

“Ok. You are 100 years old today. What’s the secret of your long life?”

“It’s not a secret. There is no secret. You live to be 100 by either a curse or dumb luck. I knew people who supposedly lived better lives than me and they are gone. I knew people who did stupid things and they out-lived some of the better ones, for a while I guess. I guess they’re gone now too. You live your life. You do the best you can. You get what you get.”

“What was the best thing you’ve seen over the span of your lifetime?”

“Your great-grandmother.”

“Ah. I meant over the last 100 years, in the world.”

“I know. My answer’s the same. Humans have done some incredible things over my time. I’ve seen some amazing things. I’ve seen some terrible things. For all their brains, humans aren’t very good at what matters. It’s hard to find somebody who will go through the mess with you, who will put up with you. If you do, and you don’t screw it up, it’s magic. It beats anything.”

“What’s one thing you never got to do that you always wanted to do?”

“Deep sea diving.”

“Really?”

“Sure, why not?”

“I don’t know. I guess that’s just never come up.”

“What else is there? I’ve done a lot of stuff. My to do list is pretty short these days. Of course, I never shot anybody either.”

“That was a joke, boy.”

“Oh! Right! Of course. Uhm … How long would you like to live?”

“I think I’m pretty much done. A lot of people I knew are gone. I hate to think of them all having any kind of fun without me. When you get to be this old, there isn’t much use for you. I don’t have much use for me. I paint a little, but mostly people near my age spend most of their time waiting, waiting for their bus they call it. They don’t have any idea when it’s going to come, but they will be ready. I don’t see much good in that. Waiting is boring. Being 100 is boring. If 100 were the new 50, we’d have more to talk about.”

“I see. My final question is, how would you like to be remembered?”

“That’s a trick question.”

“How so?”

“Who is doing the remembering?”

“Well … people, us, your family.”

“Most the people who knew me are gone. You will remember me as being old, and probably a bit crazy. Being remembered is only part of it, and it’s a useless part if you only get the bits and pieces. Hell, I don’t remember many of the details. I guess they don’t matter. If I’m to be remembered, I guess I’d want people to know that I was just man. I did the best I could. If I did anything right, it would be reflected in those I leave behind. That would be enough.”

Turk reached over and clicked the recording panel to off. The two sat together for a long while, mostly in silence as he pulled together his gear. 

“Grandpa?”

“Yeah.”

“Would you mind if I stayed and we could just talk for a while?”

One thought on “Centenial

  1. loomiswebb

    Jeff Meyers is one of the most talented Authors and Illustrators it has ever been my pleasure to work with. Jeff’s work has also been featured on Bedtime-Story.com, the number one children’s story site on the web, since the mid-1990’s. He has a particular gift for poignant stories, and I think this is truly one of his very best.

    Reply

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