The Speech I Want to Hear at my 100th Birthday Party
A coworker died a while back, and over the next few days chit-chat at the water cooler revolved around the last conversation we’d had with her, the last thoughts she expressed about life and death, how and why we would miss her. And I wondered. What will others say about me when I’m dearly departed? A friend immediately piped up. “She was a very kind person.”
Looking back at that particular time in my life, my friend was verbalizing a healthy dose of wishful thinking, expressing hopes for some future as yet unseen. Meaning, Ex Number One had left me about a year before, and I was still so enraged that I couldn’t see straight. “Kind” was not the word I would have picked. Yet here it was, coming from a friend who thought more highly of me than I did of myself.
Through the years my friend’s voice has replayed inside my head. “She was a very kind person.” And I’ve wondered. If I wasn’t very kind at the time she said it, could she see potential for it somewhere in the depths of my soul? Was she telling me it was possible to learn and develop kindness as I traveled through life’s journey? Was she applying Stephen R. Covey’s advice to begin with the end in mind?
If so, what end were we talking about here? The end my life? That opens up a few interesting ideas for my quirky imagination to play with. Let’s start simple and assume I live to be 100, and can still hear and understand everything. These are big assumptions I know, but a hundred is a nice round number.
Staying with the practical for now, I’ll probably be living in a rest home as I approach my 100th birthday. Forty percent of people that age are. So my “big day” will likely begin the same as any other — with someone coming in to change my diaper and, since it will be Thursday, give me a bath. Then I’d be settled “comfortably” into my padded wheelchair and taken to the dining room for a big bowl of hot cereal and pureed peaches — my favorite. After that, I’ll be tucked back into bed for a much-needed nap. Getting up and eating breakfast is hard work nowadays.
After too short a time, I’m awakened suddenly by a perky voice attached to a blurry face looming inches from mine. “Happy Birthday!” It’s Cindy, my…