My great-grandmother is 103 years old.
Born on July 10, 1907, Margaret (Kish) Rauer is the daughter of Hungarian immigrants Paul and Margaret (Bognar) Kish. When I studied abroad in Budapest in 2006, one of my most emotional memories was calling Great Grandma to wish her a happy 99th birthday (in Hungarian). She responded fluidly to my stumbling attempts to communicate in her second language. In the past few years, her mind has not kept up with the remarkable health of her centenarian body. But every once in a while, she gifts her family with a momentary nugget of clarity. My parents felt pretty lucky when she started singing to my mother’s piano work last year.
This week, however, she entered Hospice care.
It is difficult for me to fathom what the world will be like when the year comes that I would be 103. Two-thousand eighty-nine. Maybe we will have moved on from personal automobiles powered by fossil fuels. Maybe we will stop fighting wars. There are four times as many humans on the planet in 2010 as there were in 1907. Can Earth support 24 billion people? Will we be living on Mars? Hopefully there will be large-format touch screens everywhere. And iPhones will have good antennas. And someone will figure out how society can ensure reasonable healthcare costs for all people. And diversity will come standard. We won’t talk about globalization anymore; it will just be part of the fabric. As will a warmer climate, which seems likely.
What is not likely is that I will be around to see 2089. But if I do make it, I hope that I have a helped create a family as loving as the one that Great Grandma started. And I hope I’m still cool enough to sing karaoke with my grandchildren.
I love you, Great Grandma Rauer. Szeretlek, Nagyanya.