Cricket lovers will understand this expression. The nervousness of a batsman or batswoman making it to ninety runs, hoping to score a century, not out. The anxiety of hitting the ball and getting singles. 91. 92. 93 etc. Each one more difficult and nerve-wracking than the last. I imagine this is what it must be like in your nineties, although some whose health is not the best may not wish to reach their century.
When Dad was heading for 90, he resisted plans for a 90th birthday party on the basis that he might not still be here. This is a recurring theme, so convinced is he that his life span is all but over, all indications to the contrary. But a party was had and it was a wonderful celebration at our home on our patio and under a marquee – high tea, with proper bone china cups (tea always tastes better from bone china), mum’s collection of tea spoons, with an endless supply of cake, sandwiches, and scones. Most importantly, many family members and friends were present for the celebration.
It’s not often my dad is lost for words, but on this occasion he was, no doubt emotional that mum was not there to celebrate with him, but also to see so many people there that day, celebrating with him and wishing him well.
That was 5 years ago, and this year, like then, Dad, even six weeks beforehand, resisted any celebration of his 95th, on the basis that he might not be here. This year’s birthday was a much simpler affair – a morning tea after church, dinner with us at home, and then dinner out a few nights later on his actual birthday.
He still has the same gorgeous smile, and enjoys the many bottles of scotch he receives as gifts. That sounds worse than it is. He enjoys one glass of scotch late in the afternoon and his birthday and Christmas presents of scotch last him for months! There are very few novel gifts one can purchase someone who has everything he needs.
Imagine what someone of his age has seen:
Living through the depression
Transport moving from bicycle to car – and now the news talks of driverless cars!
Plane flight going from a luxury to everyday
Man landing on the moon – and passenger space travel a real possibility
A World War and the horror of that war, and its aftermath
Television as entertainment in addition to the ‘wireless’
Computers and mobile phones (no phones attached to the wall now!)
The abdication of King Edward VIII, the coronation and death of King George VI, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth – he may well see Prince Charles become King
The fall of the Berlin Wall
Twenty-three Australian Prime Ministers (four of those in the last 10 years alone!)
Twenty Queensland Premiers
I can’t work out how many elections in which he has exercised his democratic right to vote.
So much change and development has occurred in his lifetime, and with the pace of change accelerating, he is sure to see much more change in years to come.
The one thing that has not changed is his vocation and he recently celebrated 65 years ordination to the priesthood.
So here he is in his 96th year – will he crack the ton and get his letter from the Queen? Or perhaps it will be King Charles? Time will tell, but every run he adds to his score will be celebrated.