Henrietta Hay Column April 24, 2009

On a 95th birthday, one’s attitude is more important than actual age

What’s it like to have been around on this planet for 95/100 of a century ? Actually, it is quite amazing.

Living a long life is not unlike a journey. You start off having no idea where you are going and you end up trying to remember where you have been.

I know I am the same person who walked into that first-grade room at Lowell School in Englewood in 1920 and started a wonderful journey.

I was lucky. I had good genes, loving parents, a happy childhood and a good education, balanced between an athletic “C” and a Phi Beta key.

I had my years of domestic life following my husband from job to job and raising two little boys to be fine men. I worked 25 years in the Grand Junction/Mesa County Library. They were very good years.

At the age of 75 I retired from the library and started doing what I have wanted to do since I was a kid: write. I am very grateful to The Daily Sentinel for putting up with me all the times I disagreed with the paper.

Now I have a comfortable home in the Commons, no housework, a much-loved family, wonderful friends, Mercury the Wonder Cat, and good health for my age — except that I can’t see or hear much. And life is still exciting.

I wonder what made me the person I am — whatever that is!

Certainly part of it is the century in which I have lived. Technologically it has been the wildest century in history. My generation helped create it and has had to learn how to live in it.

I am fascinated by the variety of reactions my generation has to the changing world — from “It’s been great,” to “Give me the good old days.”

We went from horse and buggy to automobiles to airplanes to the moon. And beyond.

Perhaps the greatest change of all has been in communication. Radio, television, global communication and the World Wide Web truly changed the world.

We have lived through two major wars and several smaller ones.

Now the United States has a population of some 300 million, compared to 76 million in 1900.

We now have a large and highly diverse population.

This has brought major social and cultural changes. Some of those have been hard to understand and accept.

The influence of all these changes on me has been great. But the greatest influence of my senior years has been my passion for the cause of women’s equality. Starting in the 1970s, I have been deeply involved in the Second Women’s Movement. It has been the most exciting thing I have ever been involved in.

In the course of working on changing society’s attitude toward women, I have made wonderful friendships that have lasted through the years.

I have loved the technological revolution. I am a gadget person. I had the first computer Radio Shack had, the TRS-80, and today I have a Mac Mini with more than 1 G of memory. My only regret is that I am too old to justify owning an iPhone.

I find, in living with people of my generation, that the century has changed each person differently.

So what does it feel like to be 95?  I can speak only for me. It feels fine. I have had an exciting life, including both mental and physical activities.

I am not naive. I know that death is not too far away. But I don’t know when or how so I don’t worry about it.

In spite of all the problems of the world, and the personal ones we all have, I have managed to keep a positive attitude.

I have my column, which I love doing, even when I am swearing at it. It keeps my brain busy, and I intend to keep it going as long as I am able, and the Sentinel will print it.

I don’t have an iPhone, but I have my gadget, my Mac computer, to work on and play with and swear at.

I have a pleasant and comfortable place to live and nice people around.

Age in itself is not especially important.  Our attitude toward it is what counts.

Henrietta Hay can be reached by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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